Take a look at your eating habits. What you eat, where you eat, and why you eat are all important questions you need to ask yourself. Do you value your health? You need to eat a variety of foods that give you the nutrients your body needs. Eating better and being more active can make you feel better and think more clearly.
Being happy with whom you are and what you look like is important for a healthy body and mind. You don’t have to be an athlete, supermodel, or movie star to like who you are and to stay fit and healthy.
You can take charge of your health by making small changes in your eating and physical activity habits. These changes will help you feel and look better now and be healthier for the rest of your life!
What do you eat?
If you eat a lot of burgers and fries or pizza loaded with toppings – plus an extra helping of dessert – your diet is probably not balanced.
Get the most nutrition out of your calories.
There are a right number of calories for you to eat each day.
This number depends on your age, activity level, and whether you’re trying to gain, maintain, or lose weight. You could use up the entire amount on a few high – calorie items, but chances are you won’t get the full range of vitamins and nutrients your body needs to be healthy.
Choose the most nutritionally rich foods you can each day – those packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other nutrients but lower in calories. Pick foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains more often.
Where do you usually eat?
If you eat in places such as your room or in front of the TV, you may want to change that habit. Eating while doing other things makes it easy to lose track of how much you’ve already eaten.
By eating meals and snacks at a table, you can pay more attention to what you’re eating so that you don’t overeat.
Why do you eat?
To see if you need to change your eating habits, let’s look at why you eat. For most people, reasons to eat are:
- Time of day
- Food looks tempting
- Everyone else is eating
- Boredom, frustration, nervousness, or sadness
The best reason to eat is because your body tells you that you are hungry. If you are eating when you are not hungry, try doing something else to get food off of your mind.
Eating right is vital to weight loss and reducing the risk for death or disability due to chronic diseases such as heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes, stroke, and osteoporosis. In fact, it has been estimated that dietary changes could reduce cancer deaths in the United States by as much as 35 percent.
A large gap remains between a healthy diet and what we actually eat. Unfortunately, poor eating habits are usually established during childhood. And more than 60 percent of young people eat too much fat, and less than 20 percent eat any servings of fruits and vegetables.
Losing weight isn’t just about eating healthy.it’s also about physical activity. Regular physical activity is important for your overall health and fitness. It also helps you control body weight by balancing the calories you take in as food with the calories you expend each day.
Fruits and vegetables provide essential vitamins and minerals, fiber, and other substances that are associated with good health. Low fat diets rich in fiber-containing grain products, fruits, and vegetables may reduce the risk of heart disease and some types of cancer.
However, fats, oils, and sweets provide calories and little else, and should be used sparingly. Drinking enough water is also essential to keeping hydrated, converting food into energy, carrying nutrients through the body, and removing waste.
Don’t Give In When You Eat Out And Are On The Go!
It’s important to make smart food choices and watch portion sizes wherever you are: at the grocery store, at work, in your favorite restaurant, or running errands.
Try these Weight Loss tips:
- At the store, plan ahead by buying a variety of nutrient – rich foods for meals and snacks throughout the week.
- When grabbing lunch, have a sandwich on whole – grain bread and choose low-fat/fat-free milk, water, or other drinks without added sugars.
- In a restaurant, opt for steamed, grilled, or broiled dishes instead of those that are fried or sauteed.
- On a long commute or shopping trip, pack some fresh fruit, cut-up vegetables, string cheese sticks, or a handful of unsalted nuts – to help you avoid impulsive, less healthful snack choices.
You may be eating plenty of food, but not eating the right foods that give your body the nutrients you need to be healthy. You may not be getting enough physical activity to stay fit and burn those extra calories.
Eating right and being physically active aren’t just a “diet” or a “program” they are the keys to a healthy lifestyle. With healthful habits, you may reduce your risk of many chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and certain cancers, and increase your chances for a longer life.
Most packaged foods have a Nutrition Facts label. For a healthier you, use this tool to make smart food choices quickly and easily. Try these tips:
- Keep these low: saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, and sodium.
- Get enough of these: potassium, fiber, vitamins A and C, calcium, and iron.
- Use the % Daily Value (DV) column when possible: 5% DV or less is low, 20% DV or more is high.
Check servings and calories. Look at the serving size and how many servings you are actually consuming. If you double the servings you eat, you double the calories and nutrients, including the % DV’s.
Make your calories count. Look at the calories on the label and compare them with what nutrients you are also getting to decide whether the food is worth eating. When one serving of a single food item has over 400 calories per serving, it is high in calories.
Don’t sugarcoat it. Since sugars contribute calories with few, if any, nutrients, look for foods and beverages low in added sugars. Read the ingredient list and make sure that added sugars are not one of the first few ingredients. Some names for added sugars (caloric sweeteners) include sucrose, glucose, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, maple syrup, and fructose.
Know your fats. Look for foods low in saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol to help reduce the risk of heart disease (5% DV or less is low, 20% DV or more is high). Most of the fats you eat should be polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Keep total fat intake between 20% to 35% of calories.
Reduce sodium (salt), increase potassium. Research shows that eating less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium (about 1 tsp of salt) per day may reduce the risk of high blood pressure. Most of the sodium people eat comes from processed foods, not from the saltshaker. Also look for foods high in potassium, which counteracts some of sodium’s effects on blood pressure.
If you eat 100 more food calories a day than you burn, you’ll gain about 1 pound in a month. That’s about 10 pounds in a year. The bottom line is that to lose weight, it’s important to reduce calories and increase physical activity.
Sodium is a part of salt. It also is a part of mixtures used to flavor and preserve foods. You can make a few simple changes to help you and your family eat less salt and sodium.
When you shop:
- Buy fruits and vegetables for snacks instead of chips and salty crackers.
- Read food labels. Buy foods that say “reduced sodium,” “low in sodium,” “sodium free,” or “no salt added.”
- Choose fewer regular canned and processed foods like sausage, bologna, pepperoni, salami, ham, canned or dried soups, pickles, and olives.
When you cook:
- Each day cut back a little on the amount of salt you add to foods. You will soon get used to eating less salt.
- Use spices instead of salt. Season your food with herbs and spices such as pepper, cumin, mint, or cilantro.
- Use garlic powder and onion powder instead of garlic salt and onion salt.
- Use less bouillon cubes, soy sauce, and ketchup.
When you are at the table:
Take the salt shaker off the table.
Try these spices instead of salt to season food.
For beef… try bay leaf, garlic, marjoram, basil, pepper, thyme, cilantro.
For chicken… try marjoram, oregano, rosemary, sage, tarragon.
For fish… try curry powder, dill, parsley.
You will be amazed at how good your food will taste! Choose two or three things you will do to eat less salt and sodium.
- Make homemade soups with less salt.
- Check food labels when you shop. Buy foods marked “low sodium,” “reduced sodium,” “sodium free,” or “no salt added.”
- Season your foods with spices instead of seasoned salt and bouillon cubes.
- Take the salt shaker off your table.
- Eat fruits like mango and orange without adding any salt.
Eat less salt and sodium!
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.