Start Here: 11 Rules for a Healthy DietWritten by Daisy Whitbread, MScN
What makes a healthy diet? What eating changes can I make to be healthier in 1 month? 1 year? 5 years? 20 years? These questions have been answered by a variety of diet gurus, experts, and books. Each promising fast results, weight loss, and a longer life.
While there may be a variety of healthy diets, there are a few general rules which can be followed for a healthier diet and life in the long term.
These rules are part of what drives MyFoodData.com, a guide to the healthiest, most nutrient-dense foods, to incorporate in your diet. Below are 11 rules everyone can follow for a healthier diet.
#1: Choose Whole Foods Over Processed
If you simply choose whole foods over processed foods your diet will become much healthier. You will automatically cut out sugar and oil. No matter if you are vegan, vegetarian, or paleo. Choose whole foods. Exceptions to this rule include processed foods such as soy milk, tofu, and chocolate.
#2: Choose Smaller Portions and Eat Less
Excluding anyone who is underweight or otherwise wants to gain weight, everyone else will experience a healthier life by simply eating less. Choose smaller plates, make a rule not to give yourself a 2nd serving. Create a ritual like chewing gum, taking a walk, or brushing teeth soon after eating to avoid post-meal snacking and unhealthy weight gain.
#3: Avoid Refined Sugar
Sugar has been linked with obesity, type II diabetes, and even cancer. Sugar is addictive and should be avoided. While easy to say, avoiding refined sugar can be a challenge in our modern society. Sugar has found its way to a variety of processed foods, including soy milk, chocolate milk, peanut butter, etc... See the list of high sugar foods to avoid, and check product labels for the amount of sugar before buying foods.
#4: Avoid Trans-Fats
Trans-fats are a mostly man-made fat designed to keep products fresh for longer. Typically only found in processed foods, trans-fats have been linked with an increased risk of cardiovascular (heart) disease. Check food labels and avoid anything with the words "partially hydrogentated" like "partially hydrogenated palm oil".
#5: Avoid Excess Sodium
Like sugar, salt and sodium is addictive and added to a variety of snacks and foods. Check the list of high sodium foods to avoid, and inspect product labels and for the amount of sodium before buying products.
#6: Eat Nutrient Dense Foods
A sure way to reduce calories while feeling healthy is to only eat foods that provide the most nutrition per calorie. These include fresh herbs and dark leafy greens. See the full list of the most nutrient dense foods per calorie for more info.
#7: Try New Foods
So many people equate eating healthy with sacrifice and restriction, but it does not have to be. Make it a point to try new foods each week. From fruits to vegetables and whole grains, there are likely new foods you haven't tried. Check our list of super foods for new ideas.
#8: Experiment With A New Diet
Make a 1 week to 30 day test where you try a new diet. Maybe eat only plain oatmeal every day for a week. Or only eat salad each day for lunch for 30 days. Notice how these diet changes make you feel. Keep experimenting till you find a diet that makes you feel the best.
#9: Drink Plenty of Water
Staying properly hydrated is important for your health, and helps your body to maintain a proper balance of nutrients in your body. Aim to drink at least 1 gallon (2-3 liters) of water a day.
Warning: Too much water can be bad for your health, so avoid pushing yourself to drink too much water.
#10:Keep a Healthy Social Perspective on Your Diet
Eating with others is a great way to enjoy food while not over-eating. If you tend to binge eat on your own, try make your eating more social. If you are at an event with a lot of refined or unhealthy foods, stay conscious of being healthy and keep portion sizes small. Remember the importance of sticking to a healthy diet at all times.
#11: Subscribe to this Website
OK, #11 is just a shameless plug for you to subscribe to MyFoodData.com (its free). Getting health articles and information delivered to your inbox can be a great way to keep up with healthy eating. If you don't subscribe to this website, consider finding a good healthy eating website or magazine you do enjoy.