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Getting Started: Perhaps you’ve heard the old adage, “You are what you eat?” In many ways, the choice of food that you ingest does indeed affect at least your physical body in many ways. Take a look at these guidelines from the NIH (National Institute of Health) for 2016. Their recommendations focus on eating patterns that you are able to maintain over a lifetime, rather than a fad diet which may give fast results but is unsustainable.
Dietary Sugar: Avoid foods which have added sugars. This includes processed foods, baked goods, sugary drinks and many snack foods. Instead, opt for foods which have natural sugars, such as fruit and natural no-sugar-added yogurt. Look at the ingredients on the Nutrition Facts and avoid products that contain high-fructose corn syrup, fructose, dextrose and honey.
Dietary Fat: Not all fats are equal. While your body does need fats to function well, certain fats, such as saturated fats and trans fats can wreak havoc in your arteries and raise your bad cholesterol level. These fats are found in butter, cheese, fatty meats, burgers, pizza and many desserts. Instead, opt for healthy fats found in nuts and vegetable oils such as olive oil.
Sodium (Salt): Most processed and packaged foods have added sodium. Avoid instant foods. Instead, choose fresh ingredients and take the time to prepare your own food from fresh vegetables and meats. Season with herbs and spices rather than salt.
Interestingly, a healthy diet is also very good for your heart. If you have hypertension, heart disease or high cholesterol, then following these guidelines will also benefit you by lowering your blood pressure and lowering the bad cholesterol in your blood.
Exercise: Although eating healthy foods is a part of the equation for weight control, exercise is also a component. Regular exercise, even as simple as walking 20 minutes several times per week, will make your healthy eating even more effective in helping you to control your weight. Eating well and exercising regularly is a winning combination!
Your diet should consist of primarily vegetables and grains, with some added protein and lesser amounts of fruits and dairy. These are large categories, so try to make choices within the categories that are healthy. For example, choose a green, leafy vegetable such as spinach or kale instead of a starchy vegetable such as corn or potatoes. Proteins include not only meat, fish and poultry, but also some grains and beans, such as quinoa or edamame. With a little forethought, you can have a wide and flavor-filled variety of food!