Choosing the Right Foods

Food is not only one of life’s necessities, but it can also be a great source of joy and pleasure.  With so many varieties of foods and so many ways to prepare them, eating should never become boring and tedious.  We should look forward to mealtime with excitement rather than with apathy or even dread.   

Too often in today’s society, however, people seem to be in a hurry.  They eat on the run instead of taking time to sit down and savor their meals.  They frequently subsist on large quantities of high-fat, high-calorie fast food, or they skip meals altogether.  Good nutrition has been put on a back burner.  Such  poor eating behaviors can eventually create real physical and/or psychological problems. 

Is it any wonder that many Americans suffer from obesity, while others suffer from anorexia or bulimia?  Sadly, eating disorders and obesity go hand-in-hand with low self-esteem.  More importantly, though, they increase the risk of additional health issues.   Eating disorders can result in such conditions as malnutrition, severe anemia, dehydration, muscle atrophy, and even death.  Obesity has been linked to life-threatening conditions such as high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

Even when we want to eat sensibly, we have the tendency to indulge in larger portions of our favorite dishes, while we eat insufficient amounts of other foods.   In turn, we most likely do not always take in adequate amounts of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. 

Eating should be a healthy, enjoyable experience…not a stressful or destructive one.  Yes, healthy eating does require some planning, time, and effort, but it’s worth it in the end.
 
Choosing the Right Foods for a Healthy Life
Developing good eating habits in your home should be a top priority for the sake of every household member.  What constitutes a healthy, balanced diet?

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, you should “make smart choices” from all the basic food groups in the food pyramid.  The USDA goes on to describe a healthy diet as one that

  •  “emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products;
  • “includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts; and
  • “is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars.”

If you happen to be a vegetarian, it is essential that you get plenty of protein from other sources, such as nuts or beans.  If you crave desserts and junk food, it is okay to indulge occasionally, but don’t go overboard.  You can eat a healthy diet without completely depriving yourself of your favorite treats.  Moderation is the key.

In addition to choosing the right foods, it is important to monitor the portion sizes.  You should try not to consume more calories than your body needs for fuel.  Obviously, someone who is very active will require a higher caloric intake than one who leads a sedentary lifestyle.

For a Healthier You
As you adopt healthy eating habits, don’t forget to enjoy the sensuous pleasures that can be derived from food.  Sit down and relax at mealtime.  If possible, eat with other family members or friends, and avoid such distractions as work and television. 

Take the time to chew your food slowly and to really smell and taste each bite.  Not only will you derive more joy from eating, but you will be more conscious of what you put into your mouth.  You’ll give your brain a chance to send a signal to your stomach to let it know that you have eaten enough.  In this manner, you will have more control over the amount of food you consume.

Through conscious eating of a healthy, balanced diet, your overall well-being should improve.  You may look better and feel better, too.  You may notice that you have more self-confidence, more energy, and a more positive outlook on life.  The benefits derived from consuming the right foods are definitely worth making a healthy diet part of your lifestyle change. 

Note: The guidelines set by the U.S.D.A. are intended for the average public over two years of age.  Individuals with certain health conditions should follow the advice of their doctors regarding what they should eat.

For weight control and optimal health, a regular exercise program is also recommended in conjunction with a proper diet.  Before beginning any exercise program, however, it is wise to consult with your medical professional.   

As the old saying goes, “you are what you eat.”  Eat healthy and be healthy!

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