Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Creating a balanced diet

It's fairly common knowledge that you and your kids are supposed to be eating a 'healthy balanced diet'.  That’s great, but what does it actually mean?  How exactly is a healthy balanced diet different from what most people tend to eat?

You ultimately have to decide what the best nutrition plan is for you (based on your lifestyle, goals and budget), but there are some fairly universal truths in this area.  For one thing, a healthy balanced diet is filled with as many 'real foods' as possible.  That means foods that haven’t been filled with chemicals, including artificial colors and flavorings, and are water-rich in content.  If it comes in a box or a can, no matter how 'all natural' it is, you’re probably better off limiting your intake of it.

Developing and committing to a healthy balanced diet is a lifestyle change, and it can take some practice.  Here are some great suggestions to get you started on your way to a healthy balanced diet.  A good way to start is to slowly eliminate packaged food and move to meals that you create.  If convenience is a factor, there are millions of recipes available (online and everywhere else) that will allow you to prepare your own meals quickly and properly.  Another idea to keep in mind is the 'mason jar' concept.  These recipes allow you to fix your meals ahead of time - for maximum convenience - while still staying on your healthy balanced diet.  There are plenty of options that will allow you to put together your favorite foods once (on the weekends, for example) and then enjoy them for up to a week without any further effort or temptation.



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Another thing to keep in mind is to never deprive yourself of any particular food group altogether.  This doesn’t mean that you should be chowing down on unhealthy snacks and high-fat foods. It does mean that you shouldn’t limit yourself to fruits, vegetables, and lean meats all the time, either. It is okay to have a splurge item every once in a while.  Rule of thumb: eat balanced 90% of the time and you will be on the right track.  Focus on eating a wide variety of foods so your body gets all of the nutrients it needs.  Other foods that you should be limiting are refined grains and added sugar.  Added sugar, in particular, can be hard to catch!  Many foods that you buy prepackaged or at restaurants contain added sugar content to help them taste better or to cover up the taste of other additives.  This is one of the reasons why it’s often better to cook at home when possible.  Refined grains process through your body very quickly and are turned into sugar.  Whole grains, on the other hand, will keep the nutritional content of the wheat intact. 

Eat the rainbow!  No, not that popular candy that comes complete with a week’s supply of sugar (and enough artificial colors to take you to the moon and back).  Rather, eat a “rainbow” of fruits and vegetables.  Different colors tend to indicate that the fruits or vegetables have similar nutrients in them.  That means that you should fill your plate with all sorts of different tones when you can.  Not only is it pretty (which, according to research, will make you enjoy eating it even more), it also contains a variety of different nutrients.

Control your portion sizes too.  A good rule of thumb is to start by dividing the portion you would normally eat in half.  To help control your portions, pay attention when you’re eating.  Don’t plop down in front of your television or computer screen; instead, concentrate on the process of eating.  Enjoy the flavor and texture of your foods instead of mindlessly shoveling your meal down before going back for more.  Also, use this old trick: use a smaller plate to help your portions seem larger. Try not to drink your calories with soda and other similar drinks.  You often don’t realize how many calories there really are in your favorite coffee drink or that soda that you drink by the bottle - but it can pack on the pounds fast.  When possible, drink water - and lots of it!  Staying hydrated is one of the most important things you can do for your body.  The only caloric drink that would be highly recommended is a total nutrition shake. These can be used for a healthy snack or meal replacement. Implement these suggestions and you will be on your way to creating a healthy balanced diet that fits your lifestyle. Good luck!


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