Healthy Eating

Define “healthy.” I am not sure there is a clean cut definition for every one . We are each unique, which makes our nutritional needs unique. Therefore the definition of healthy may vary by individual. There are some clearly defined markers of healthy eating as defined by their associated mortality effects. General healthy eating guidelines usually include, “low-fat,” “high fiber,” and “low sugar.” This section provides 8 steps to guide you through “Healthy Eating” and toward “Healthy Living.” Each principle is appropriate for everyone, though the application may vary with the individual.

1.) Take Responsibility:

Don’t trust Oprah, your doctor, coach, personal trainer, new anchor, parents, or friends to tell you how to eat. Find out for yourself. So much misinformation regarding nutrition lurks in trustworthy places. These sources may have no ill will towards you and may be speaking to the best o their knowledge and experience, but that does not mean you should believe it.

With so much information available today, it is important that you learn to be a savvy “media consumer.” When you are exposed to a new nutrition or health concept you should first consult with an established health professional group that is nationally recognized. Such groups, like the American Dietetic Association, will provide reliable, up to date information that is evidenced based. Ensuring that your nutrition habits have been tested and approved through research is important. And it is equally important that the proof was proven multiple times by various researchers whom used double blind placebo testing methods and were not founded by a group with a conflicting interest in the outcomes.

Next time someone, even a professional, offers you advice, ask them for their source of information. Then check it out yourself for legitimacy. After all, it is YOUR health, and no one else has control over your health other than you!

2.) Be a Leader:

Don’t rely on what food crosses your path. Take an active role in planning what you eat. Even if you don’t prepare the food, you can take ownership for planning what is put before you to eat. Whether you are eating out, dining at home, or in the office, you can take initiative for the foods that will be present. If you don’t, it is easy to fall prey to another office party of donuts and juice, or a fast food run on the way home, or splitting pizza and nachos with the group. Don’t’ feel you have to eat less nutritious foods because that is what the kids will eat or friends are craving or your co-workers like it. Speak up! Be a leader! Voice what you feel is important in a friendly manner. If those around you do not follow, plan your food separately and be a consistent example of health. Perhaps you will eventually influence them with your health habits.

3.) Look Local:

More than 80% of cancer is environmentally related. If our country was able to identify the sources, they would cure it. With all the politics about the environment , it is difficult to know what to believe. For certain we know that our environments have changed and they are impacting our health much more. Many things have “improved’ in the way we grow and get our food over the years. While these changes have made getting our food more convenient, it may not be making us healthier.

This is why looking for a local, sustainable, organic farm, similar to how food originally was harvested, may benefit your health. Besides benefitting you health, supporting local agriculture supports your local economy and environment. I most communities you will find the freshest local fare at roadside stands and farmer’s markets. Even more convenient, you can check on line to see if you can take part in a “CSA,” which his your local Crop Sharing Association. This allows for you to purchase a share of the harvest at a local farm. Your share may include diary, eggs, meat, nuts, grains, or produce of the season. Most individual cannot even tell you which produce belongs to what season. This is because large grocery chains provide every variety of produce year round from other countries. Today, food is grown in larger quantities in less places but transported much farther than ever before. Food is always best when harvested in season. Therefore stock up on food sin season and freezer quantities for later in the year when they are not available. Such methods will restrict you to eating what is in season which may not have been a consideration before.

These methods may be less convenient and more costly than shopping your major local chain grocer. However, you can feel more responsible about the food you are eating and they should taste fresher too! This is also can be applied to many local restaurant entrepreneurs who insist on using local seasonably foods on their menus. If you are eating out, look local too! (

4.) Eat Your Needs:

No one else’s body is quite like yours. What is nourishing to your body might be detrimental to another‘s health. The genes you carry may increase or decrease your risk for certain diseases. Those same genes also determine how you utilize energy or your metabolism.

Your unique nutrition needs change over time. This may be due to the normal process of ageing, such as adolescence or menopause. Or it could be due to a life change like pregnancy or increased activity level 9like a new sport interest). Asking your physician to check certain values annually may help you identify any needs that may arise in your health. Helpful lab values to request might include: body weight, Blood Glucose, Lipid Profile, Blood Pressure, Complete Blood Count (CBC), Metabolic Panel, Iron and Ferritin levels, . What you eat affects all of those values. You may also wish to see professional assistance, such as a Registered Dietitian, to determine your unique nutrition needs. Once you have determined your personal nutrition needs, match your food choices appropriately.

5.) Include Variety:

There are countless types of food that can be prepared numerous ways. “Bubba Gump Shrimp” comes to mind as an example! Yet a surprising number of us fall into ruts of eating the same thing almost every day. Such a habit limits the nutrients you make available to your body which can inhibit your health. Foods are often limited due to conveyance or preference. In the United States, convenience can no longer be an excuse for eating the same thing daily. When it comes to preference, put some thought into what it is you don’t like about the food; texture, flavor, the way it makes you feel. Remember that your taste buds change as you age and your preference may change too. Be adventures and try a new food the next time you eat for the sake of your health!

6.) Try Balance:

The most important part of practicing balance with your nutrition is avoiding extremes. Although exact nutrition needs may vary, a majority of people should consume carbohydrate, fat, and protein in a 4:2:1 ratio. Nutrient ratios far from this balance may lead to nutritional complication such as obesity, hypertension, or heart disease. Fad diets often call for people to abandon this balance. Balance means no exclusions and no extremes when it comes to nutrients.

Another component of balance in nutrition is called, “Food Synergy.” There are some foods that work best in your body when balanced by another food at consumption. Probably the biggest example of this is the combination of protein and carbohydrates. Your blood glucose remains more even when the effects of ingested sugar are tempered by the power of protein. Another example is the paring of Low Biological Protein Foods with a grain in the same day. Synergy can also be seen by increased absorption of calcium when consumed with Vitamin D and Magnesium food sources. Numerous more examples of balanced nutrient intake having a synergistic relationship could be named. To find out more, ask your Dietitian.

7.) Practice Moderation:

There are no bad foods except those that are old and moldy! Even sugar is healthy. In fact, your brain requires specifically sugar in order to function. Consuming some foods typically considered as “junk” food might aptly be renamed “Mental Health Food.” Food is pleasurable and it does activate various sensations in our body. “Mental Health Food” is food that makes us happy and we should include in our diets in moderation despite their nutrient content. Allowing yourself some pleasure in moderation is considered healthy, even when it comes to food. Research even shows that when individuals include a small amount of “Mental Health Food” in their diet, they are more successful with losing weight and maintaining their weight. Too much of any food, even broccoli or water, is unhealthy and could even be dangerous to your health. For all foods you choose to include in your diet, moderation should be practiced.

8.) Make It!

The more you are able to limit processed foods the healthier you will be. Fresh is best when it comes to food. If time is a limitation, try hiring it out to a personal chef, assigning cooking nights to household members, or cook in bulk when time permits and freeze it. Besides ample preservatives, processed foods are notorious for outrageous sodium levels. It is not uncommon for one frozen dinner entrée to contain more than a full day’s allowance of sodium. Processing of food can also decrease the original nutrients in a food, like Vitamin C which is a very unstable nutrient.

Have you ever checked the nutritional information of some of your favorite restaurants? Chances are that if you have, you are no longer ordering the same foods you used to enjoy. It is appalling how restraints, grocery stores, or some caterers can alter the nutritional content of a dish for the worse. Most recipes eaten out can be made at home for less than half of the calories, fat, and sodium and with twice the taste. Preparing food at home also allows you to manipulate the serving sizes and food combinations.

* Click HERE for Healthy Dining Out Tips (

* Click HERE for more tips on how to “Make It!” (link to Meal planning and preparation web page)