A rich and balanced diet is part of a healthy lifestyle. Eating foods that contain the right amounts of vitamins and minerals is the key to long-term health and vitality. So how to you achieve balance in your diet and what are the best healthy eating habits to adapt?
1. Healthy Portions
You have eaten a healthy amount of food when you feel 80% full. It takes 20 minutes after we finish eating for our bodies to register that we are full. Therefore, to avoid overeating we should stop eating when we feel 80% full. We can also avoid overeating by not eating too fast. You should eat 5 smaller meals a day instead of 3 large ones. Eating smaller portions more often can help if you are trying to lose weight, and improves your metabolism and digestion. It means you won’t get sudden drops or highs in your blood sugar levels and instead have a constant flow of energy that is vital. So eating less but more frequently is the best eating habit to establish.
2. Eat Consciously
If you eat in front of the TV or whilst reading or working, you are not concentrating on the process of eating. Eating should be done in a peaceful environment where you are consciously eating. Try not to rush eating, slow down so you can really appreciate all the flavours of the meal. If you spent a long time preparing the meal, then eating slowly will let you truly appreciate the time that went into creating the dish.
The process of chewing releases stomach enzymes that digest our food. This is really important for good digestion.
4. Improve Your Digestion
Your gut serves a very important purpose for keeping your weight under control, having a good immune system and generally making sure you stay healthy. Because many people consume refined foods that contain very little fibre and water, end up with weak and slow digestive systems. This type of poor diet leads to an array of medical complications including constipation and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
A slow digestive system is one of the reasons people get skin allergies due to toxins being absorbed into the system.
Your good bacteria are essential and live in harmony with your body by breaking down food and helping to kill off bad bacteria. But refined and processed foods that are high in sugar promote the growth of bad bacteria and in turn kill off the good ones.
You can solve this problem by eating more fresh fruits, vegetables and probiotic yogurts that contain live beneficial bacteria. Spices such as ginger, cinnamon, cumin, pepper and turmeric help to stimulate your digestive system and aid digestion. Also ensuring you drink plenty of water throughout the day is important to maintaining all round health.
You must ensure that your diet is packed full of essential nutrients. Nutrients such as minerals and vitamins also act as antioxidants. They are vital for all bodily functions and energize the system. Fats and oil are extremely important too, as we need the right amount, the right kind and the right balance of fat in our diet. Omega 6 fats are commonly available in many foods like sunflower oil and soy oil. Omega 3 fats are essential for our brains and to protect the heart. Omega 3 fats are only available in a few foods like fish, flax oil and walnuts, however Omega 6 fats are available in multiple foods that we consume. Therefore, we need to seek out and ensure we consume the rarer Omega 3 fats, in order to get the proper balance of good fats in our diet.
Hydrogenated trans fats are the bad fats which should be entirely avoided. By having a balanced diet and variety of fresh and starchy vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips and swedes, snacking on small portions of low-fat dairy products, nuts and seeds, you can start to ensure you are getting most of the nutrients you need. Fish is the best source of Omega 3 essential oils and is a high-quality protein.
Unfortunately we can no longer guarantee that the food we buy contains adequate quantities of nutrients. Farming methods have changed and factors such as acid rain have leached vital nutrients from the soil. This is why having good vitamin and mineral supplements is vital for your long term health.
– Vitamin D3 – our body does not make enough as we have low levels of sun light. It can only be produced in the presence of sunlight. Try to have at least 400 IU daily of Vitamin D3, which is the best kind of Vitamin D for your body.
– Omega 3 fatty acids from fish oil or flax oil (vegetarian)
– A good multi-vitamin and mineral supplement
6. Increase your Magnesium Intake
Magnesium is a mineral that our bodies need as much as we need calcium. Magnesium helps your bones to absorb calcium, strengthens and protects your heart, helps to regulate blood pressure, and relaxes your muscles. You should aim to get an equal balance of magnesium to calcium in your diet. If you take magnesium supplements, you should take them at a different time of the day from calcium so they don’t compete for absorption. Foods rich in magnesium include apples, apricots, avocados, figs, seeds, tofu, watercress and wheat.
Slowly adapting the above methods into your diet over time will ensure the best transition from your current diet. As your body is accustomed to your current eating habits, you don’t want to completely change your diet overnight, as you will most likely see only negative side effects. Many people make the common mistake of taking on a whole new diet within a short period of time and do not truly feel the positive benefits of a healthy diet, therefore returning to their old unhealthy eating habits.