A healthy diet could be considered “Step One” of any serious fitness and health plan. “You are what you eat” isn’t just a quaint saying. If you expect your body to function properly and allow you to get the most out of life, you need to give it what it needs to make that happen. It needs the fuel to power your body through its day. It needs the right mix of vitamins and minerals to keep your mind sharp and to help stave off illness. Finally, it needs water to help deliver energy to your cells and carry waste products to the body’s filters to be expelled. With some simple planning and an exercise program, you can do this for yourself while helping your body avoid fitness and health pitfalls associated with obesity. This is the first in our two-part series on the subject.
Healthy Diet Formula
Finding a formula for a healthy diet is not as difficult as many make it out to be. From one perspective, it’s common sense. I mean, how difficult is the concept “eat more of what’s good for you and eat less of what isn’t”? Surprisingly, many people do find that a difficult concept. We are inundated day-in and day-out with images of foods that ARE NOT a regular part of a healthy diet. Commercials on TV and advertisements online or in print invade our senses and use psychology to try and get us to make poor food choices. Resistance can be difficult. But, it’s not like the Borg from Star Trek. Resistance is not futile. In fact, Resistance is a requirement of any sound fitness and health plan.
Job one is to have a plan. Be aware of the food groups and the proper portion of each that are recommended for consumption daily. There are a lot of different ways to group foods. I have to be honest, I fall back on how they were described when I came of age. Today, things can get confusing with the way food groups are described. I find the best descriptions as follows:
If you search, there are a lot of different recommendations for the best combination of these groups. The one that speaks to me is to consume four fruits, four vegetables, three meats, two dairy, and two grains daily. Your first reaction is probably “That’s a lot of food”. Well, that’s part of our collective problem. We eat, generally, too large of portions. The key is to eat smaller portions, more often.
Having a plan is simply the first step. You also have to have a “diet” of regular exercise or physical activity. Statistics show that the main problems people complain get them off their diet plan are a busy lifestyle and stress. Establishing time to regularly exercise must be made a part of your lifestyle. You have to make time for it and commit to doing it no matter what. Strangely enough, you will find committing to your exercise plan will go a long way toward reducing the stress that comes from other parts of your life.
Keys to Executing Your Healthy Diet
The key factor in executing your healthy diet can be summed up in one word: commitment. That line from the movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” that starts out “Life moves pretty fast” is more relevant today than it has ever been in the past. Every New Year, people across the world swear that this is the year they’re going to commit to that diet and exercise program. People who own gyms and those that sell diet plans know that. That’s why around that time of year the number of commercials and advertisements for gym and diet plans skyrocket. Advertisers are hoping to cash in on the public’s newfound desire to act healthier. They also know that a certain percentage will not be committed and can be re-targeted next year.
Even those with a strong commitment can be done in with another challenging factor: boredom. Eating the same foods over, over, and over again gets old fast. The same applies to an unimaginative exercise program. But, there are no reasons to succumb to these pitfalls. The variety of prepackaged diet foods available is significant. A person could plan their food consumption using just prepackaged foods and not eat the same meal twice during the year. That doesn’t even take into account the variety of healthy, nourishing foods that can be easily prepared from recipes in diet books or those available online.
Along those lines, don’t be afraid to get creative. Maybe you are a sucker for Italian food and love lasagna. Have you ever considered fixing it with zucchini slices for the noodles, lean meat, and reduced-fat cheese? When I was first told about that recipe, I blanched. But, after trying it, I can honestly say it was delicious. Your healthy diet is only limited by your imagination. Mix it up. Don’t be afraid to try something new or a new way.
How Do You Know You Are Eating a Healthy Diet
The best indication you’re eating a healthy diet is that you look and feel good. I mean, that’s what it’s about, isn’t it? Establishing and adhering to your healthy diet plan (and regular exercise) will go a long way toward keeping you from getting sick and maintaining a positive opinion about yourself. So much of our susceptibility to illness and other maladies is affected by what we eat and do that they shouldn’t be ignored. You need to be thinking about them always.
In this first part of our two-part series on a healthy diet, we covered the importance of coming up with a healthy diet plan. Your plan needs to include the five food groups (meats, fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy) in the right proportions. You need to mix things up so you don’t succumb to boredom and be afraid to get creative with your food preparation. In part two of our series, we get into some specifics and also cover some of the things which are not part of a healthy diet. Please make sure you check out part two so that you have a complete understanding of what it means to plan and execute a healthy diet.