Part One of Staying Committed to a Diet: The Basics of Healthy Eating

A healthy diet is one that includes mostly whole, non-processed foods, as shown in these photos.

A healthy diet is one that includes mostly whole, non-processed foods, as shown in these photos.

One of the biggest difficulties of changing your lifestyle is actually committing to the daily habits that improve one’s health. It takes a lot of effort to be consistent with a new way of living, and this is especially true if you aren’t always thinking of the reasons for why you want to change. Another roadblock to staying motivated and committed is the huge amount of dieting advice and information out there.  I’m taking a class called Cultural Aspects of Food, which examines how different cultures use different foods, and recently we dissected how our ancient ancestors ate.  Popular diets such as the Paleo Diet (which I’ve discussed before) claim that our ancient ancestors were healthier due to not consuming grains and having a diet consisting of mainly vegetables, fruits, meat, fish and healthy fats. Although I can’t disagree with that fact that the above listed food groups are healthy, most dietitians and researchers agree that a diet that includes whole grains has so many benefits, some of which include providing b-vitamins, fiber, and phytochemicals.

Besides the Paleo Diet, it’s so easy to be convinced to try the newest diet craze. Everyone wants a miracle cure but the most important thing to realize when trying to disseminate diet information is that there is no instant cure or miracle way of eating. Consistently eating healthy (and healthy has many meanings which I will discuss a little later), making exercise a priority, and limiting consumption of alcohol are some things that will always produce a healthier outcome.

So what is healthy eating? Healthy eating for most people means intake of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein, healthy fats (non-hydrogenated plant sources, such as nuts, and fish oils), and fat-free or low-fat dairy (if tolerated). Eliminating a food group will not necessary bring better health unless there is an underlying disease/disorder, such as Celiac Disease (discussed in a previous post), so always use caution around diets which advocate for elimination of random foods or diets that claim that a certain food is a miracle cure for disease (no food has all-healing properties). Although this advice may seem contrary to my last post on gluten-free eating, I’m mainly gearing this towards people who have no food intolerances and do not suffer from Celiac Disease. As always, before changing your diet, you may want to consider talking to your doctor or visiting a Registered Dietitian to help you based on your specific health needs and goals.  Stay tuned for my next post of this series where I’ll discuss some ways to stay motivated, now that you know which foods to eat!

-Jess

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