Sunday, 13 May 2012
You probably already know that a healthy diet lowers your risk for heart disease, diabetes and many kinds of cancer, such as breast and prostate cancers.
Science has made it possible to survive different types of cancer, and treatments like chemotherapy and proton radiation therapy, like the treatment provided at IU Health Proton Therapy are growing and becoming more effective. But eating healthy is a step in the right direction towards avoiding the disease.
A well-balanced diet can help you control your weight, think more clearly and give you more energy. So why, on an average day, do only 2 percent of Americansmeet recommendations for a healthy diet as described by the USDA and Department of Health and Human Services in the 2010 dietary guidelines?
Obstacles to a Healthy Diet
One possibility is that you don’t know what a healthy diet is. You probably know that broccoli and apples are good for you, and that French fries are bad (if eaten daily). Beyond that, things may seem a little more confusing because you can’t just limit your diet to broccoli and apples.
Another popular excuse to avoid healthy eating is that, most of the time, unhealthy foods just taste better. You may think that committing to nutritious food and a healthy weight means having tasteless meals and always being hungry. Worse, you might think that you’ll have to give up your social life because you’ll have trouble finding healthy choices at restaurants, parties or other gatherings. With so many restaurants offering health-conscious menu items, you can rest assured that your social life will survive a lifestyle change.
How to Eat Healthy and Enjoy Life
These are a few simple tips that can guide you without making you crazy about the details. They’ll help you through daily life and special occasions.
- When you can, choose fresh food over processed. That means choosing fresh chicken over sliced luncheon meat, fresh grains and proteins instead of canned or frozen meals and, when possible, cooking for yourself instead of eating out. The strategy of choosing fewer processed foods helps you take in more nutrients, avoid cholesterol-raising trans fats and limit your consumption of sugar and salt.
- Drink more water. It’s a calorie-free and filling option to help you control your weight. Plus, it helps prevent fatigue and headaches from dehydration.
- Eat more fiber. The typical American gets less than half of the recommended amounts of dietary fiber. That’s a shame because fiber lowers your cholesterol levels, prevents constipation and helps control your blood sugar levels. Fiber is in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and in foods like whole-wheat bread, oatmeal and brown rice. Beans and nuts are also good sources of fiber.
- Choose lean proteins and healthy fats. Instead of reaching for the sausage, fried chicken, steak or butter, choose lean beef or pork, grilled skinless chicken and olive or canola oil. This can help you limit your calorie and unhealthy saturated fat intake. Fish is an excellent choice because it provides heart-healthy omega-three fats, and fat-free dairy products provide protein as well as calcium.
- Plan ahead for restaurant meals. Think about what you’ll order ahead of time so you’re not tempted to look through the unhealthy options on the menu. When you get your food, pack some of it up to take home so you don’t overeat at the restaurant.
- Be generous. If you’re hosting a party, make lots of healthy food and stick to it. For example, serve cut fresh vegetables with the appetizers, a green salad during the meal and fruit along with the dessert. If you’re a guest, bring something healthy for your host to serve.
Now that you have the motivation and an outline of a healthy diet, why don’t you get started? Use these tricks to enjoy your food, your friends and family, your energy and a longer, healthier life.