In the past, people may have thought that with advancements in technology and medicine, people will be healthier and will eat more nutritious food. They may have thought that the 21st century will bring most nutritious food on the table, but in reality, the present eating habits of many people are far worse today as compared to past diets and eating habits. As you can see, there is a steady rise of many chronic diseases and ailments connected to the heart, brain and the cardiovascular system. Diabetes, hypertension, obesity, stroke, heart ailments and cancer are on a steady rise and most of them are linked to eating unhealthy foods, sedentary lifestyle and having bad eating habits. This holds true for first world countries, specifically the United States have the highest number of obesity, cancer and diabetes cases.

                                                                                    When America shifted from eating organic and natural foods to processed, sugary, salty and fatty foods, almost everyone became addicted to unhealthy foods and gave rise to the fast food culture. And with the fast food culture comes the uncontrolled weight gain. With the strong influence of western culture all over the world, many countries are also beginning to shift their traditional diet to a more western style of eating. Fast foods are sprouting everywhere like mushrooms, making it more tempting for anyone to have a midnight run for a quick burger or fried chicken fix. Healthy eating and good nutrition are almost ignored today.

Why Is Good Nutrition Important

                                                           The food choices that you make each day will surely affect  your health today and in the future. Good nutrition is an essential part of having a healthy lifestyle. If combined with regular physical activity, your diet and nutrition can help you reach and maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risks of developing chronic diseases.

Bad eating habits have contributed to obesity in the United States, 33.8% are obese and about 17% of children and adolescents aged 2-9 are obese. A poor diet can also be linked with major health risks and death, even among people with healthy weight. By having smart food choices, anyone can protect themselves from these different health issues. Having a healthy eating plan that incorporates healthy foods from different food groups can jump start your road to good health. During the 1930s, Dr. Weston Price studied a number of indigenous cultures around the world. Although these cultures have no knowledge of nutrition data, Dr. Weston found that almost everyone who were eating entirely according to their culture and the way their ancestors did were immune to chronic diseases.

 Scientist, experts and medical practitioners who have served these indigenous populations have confirmed that ailments and diseases such as diabetes, obesity, cancer, gastrointestinal issues and arthritis did not manifest or occur until  people started to incorporate sugar, white flour, vegetable oils, refined foods, canned foods and other processed foods in their diet. And from their the taste for these kinds of foods will be strong and will become a habit that can lead to an unhealthy lifestyle.

Starting A Healthy Eating Habit                  
            Healthy eating is not about depriving yourself of the food you love or following strict nutrition philosophies that  are being unrealistically thin, it is about feeling good, maintaining the mental health, having more energy and keeping the body as healthy as possible. This can be achieved by developing  good eating habits and learning some nutrition basics and use them that will work for your advantage. You can also expand your range of healthy food choices and learn to plan ahead to develop and create a healthy and tasty diet. Follow these tips to develop good eating habits.

1.      Set yourself for success. Think of planning a healthy diet as different,  small and manageable steps rather than a big drastic diet change. Approaching the changes slowly and with the right commitments will have quicker and steadier results. You can simplify by thinking about your diet by variety, color and freshness. This will make it easier to make healthy food choices. Try to focus on finding foods and recipes that you love and incorporate fresh ingredients. Your diet will slowly become healthier. Changing everything at once will eventually lead to cheating, thus small changes are important. As you become used to these small changes, you can continue to add more healthy food choices to your diet.

2.      Moderation is the key. Many people think that eating healthy is an all or nothing gamble. But most people don’t know is that moderation is the key. One of the primary goals of healthy eating is to create a diet that you can maintain for life and not just for a short time. Try to think of moderation  as balanced eating. Although there are many fad diets going around today, you still need a balance in protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, fiber and minerals to sustain a healthy body. Eating in moderation or having a balanced diet means eating less of the unhealthy stuff. Try not to think of certain kinds of food to be off-limits. When you ban or take-off certain types of foods, it will be natural to want those foods more and then feel that you have failed once you gave in to temptation. Start by reducing the portion sizes and avoid eating them as often as before starting eating habit changes. Once you get used to eating them, your craving will be less. You can also try to think of having smaller portions. Try to use a smaller plate and think of the realistic serving sizes. If you’re not satisfied at the end of a meal, add more vegetables or eat a fresh fruit.

3.      It’s not what you  eat, it’s how you eat. Healthy eating is not just the food on your plate, but also how you think about food. Healthy eating habits can be developed and earned. It is also important to think about food as a source of nourishment rather than something to have in between meetings or if you’re on your way to pick up the kids at school. Eat with a good company will many emotional and social benefits especially for kids. This will develop a bond between people because eating is one way of breaking boundaries and inhibitions. Take time to chew your food and enjoy every minute of your mealtime. Savor every bite and feel the joy of eating. Don’t skip breakfast and eat small meals throughout the day to maintain a healthy metabolism. This will keep your energy up and your mind alert.

4.      Enhance your diet with fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are a healthy diet’s foundation. They are low in calories and are packed with vitamins, fiber, minerals and antioxidants. Deeply colored fruits and vegetables have higher levels of minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. Having five portions a day will greatly improve your health. Antioxidants and other nutrients from fruits an vegetables also helps protect us from developing certain types  of cancer and other chronic diseases. Food supplements may be very handy, but nothing beats the natural goodness of fruits and vegetables.

5.      Eat more whole grains and healthy carbohydrates. Choose food with healthy carbohydrates and with high level of fibers like whole grains. Whole grains provide energy and are rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals, which help protect the body from cancer, diabetes and coronary heart disease. Many studies have proven the benefits of whole grains. Whole wheat, brown rice, barley, bran and millet are good examples of whole grains. Oats and bran are good sources of healthy carbohydrates.

6.      Enhance your diet with the right kinds of fats. Food rich in omega-3 have anti-inflammatory properties and helps in nourishing and maintain the health of your brain, heart and skin. It also helps in preventing the development of cancer, diabetes and other cardiovascular ailments. It also alleviates the symptoms of the mentioned diseases. It helps in preventing Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and depression. Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, herring and sardines are the popular species. Krill and squid are also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, in fact calamari has higher levels of the essential fat as compared to fish. Try to lower your consumption of bad fats such as saturated and trans fats.
There are no magic or shortcuts in building a healthy eating habit. Stick with the gradual change of  plan and everything will fall into place.

 Article by  Roselen Fernandez

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