We all know that exercise is extremely important to our health and that healthy eating should accompany our plans to improve and maintain our well-being. In the health industry, there are millions of different types of diets, eating plans and theologies that tell you how, when and what you should eat.
A lot of dieting advice often contradicts the advice of others. One person tells you to reduce fat content and eat more carbohydrates, while someone else tells you to reduce carbohydrates and increase fat content. Some say that we should eat small meals regularly, while others say that we should spend a lot of time not eating anything at all (intermittent fasting). Others promote the use of supplements, while others promote eating single-ingredient foods exclusively.
Another aspect that makes healthy eating relatively difficult (especially for beginners) is price. Unfortunately, healthy food seems to be a lot more expensive than unhealthy food.
While I’m not going to give you another eating plan, I would like to outline a few basics that you can carry over into whichever eating plan you are currently using. If you aren’t following an eating plan right now, these tips are a great way to make a few changes that could improve your overall well-being.
1. Drink more water
This is a simple tip that my readers might be tired of me advocating, but the average person does not drink enough water. This leads to disastrous effects in your body over the long-haul. Did you know, for example, that not drinking enough water makes your more tired than you should be? Drinking water is also one of my top natural detox methods.
Dehydration leads to many unhealthy cravings. In the above article about how reduced water intake induces fatigue, cravings for cigarettes were significantly reduced when people drank a glass of water every time they wanted to smoke. Dehydration can also lead to cravings for caffeine and sugar.
Are you tired of drinking plain water all the time? Try adding lemon juice for added benefits.
2. Eat raw
It might sound like I don’t like different dieting methods because I said that they contradict each other in my introduction, but I am actually a big fan of many of them. For example, I am currently practicing intermittent fasting and plan to switch over to eating regularly in the next few months. Most diets have their unique pros and cons, but one of the few things that I never change is the consumption of raw (uncooked and unprocessed) fruit and vegetables every day. We need to eat raw food every day.
Our bodies are dependent on these foods for a variety of micro nutrients (vitamins, minerals, trace elements, fatty acids, antioxidants, plant compounds, tannins and etc). The availability of so many different types of multi-vitamins proves to me that scientists aren’t 100% sure about which micro nutrients we need every day and which ones we don’t. The best way to make sure that your body gets all the ‘mini nutrients’ that it needs it so make sure that you eat at least 5 fruit and veg every day. If this sounds like a lot, but try making fruit the new snack at your desk or, like me, finishing them all off in one go as a separate meal of its own.
Can’t afford pre-cut pineapple and mango slices? No problem! Simple foods like a carrot, a tomato and a slice of cabbage works just as well to fulfill your daily quota.
3. Reduce refined cards and processed foods
The first two tips looked at adding what your body needs to your daily diet. This one talks about avoiding what damages your body. Preservatives are good at increasing shelf life because they are good at killing. They kill bacteria that would spoil food. The truth is that they kill us too – they just take longer to do so because we are bigger organisms. This is why processed foods like processed meats are so closely linked to diseases like heart failure and cancer.
There are also a ton of other unhealthy nutrients hidden in processed foods like sugar, sodium and partially hydrogenated oils. Have you heard of the term ‘empty calories’? This refers to the fact that a food has the ability to be stored in your body as fat, but actually has very little nutritional value. Many micro nutrients that were present at the beginning of manufacturing processes get destroyed during the process. This happens for a variety of reasons like extreme heat and added ingredients like preservatives and colorants.
Variety is needed because our bodies need a whole host of micro nutrients. “You can trace every sickness, every disease, and every ailment to a mineral deficiency”, famously said Dr. Linus Pauling. Additionally; iron, calcium, iodine, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin B12 and vitamin D are among the 7 most common nutrient deficiencies in the world, among others. If you look at the symptoms of these deficiencies (along with the deficiencies of other nutrients), you will find that almost all disease can be traced back to the way that we eat.
By adding variety to the foods you eat, you allow your body to stock up on a variety of nutrients. This helps to prevent the chance of a specific nutrient deficiency. Eating the same food over and over again might be convenient, but your body will suffer because of it.
Moderation could be seen as a ‘how-to’ on the above tip (don’t eat too much of one kind of food), but also explains the fact that too much of a certain nutrient can cause harm. Over-toxicity of most nutrients can harm your body. This is why is it very important never to exceed the recommended doses of vitamins – unless prescribed to do so by a doctor.
A very good example of this is sodium. Did you know that your body actually needs sodium and that if all the sodium in your body vanishes, you would die? It is not the sodium that is unhealthy, but rather that we get too much of it.
Too many carbohydrates are thought to contribute to diabetes, too many fats are thought to contribute to heart failure and too much protein is thought to negatively impact kidney function. It is even possible to drink too much water! Even the tips in this article should also be taken into account with moderation.
For these reasons, extreme diets that don’t take moderation into account could be dangerous and very hard for you to stick to.
Bonus tip: Give yourself time to adjust
This is one of my favorite tips. As a personal trainer, my exercise plans look very different between a beginner and someone who has been exercising with me for years. Eating habits should be seen in the same way. Eating more fruit and veg, for example, might not feel like real food to a person who is used to eating a lot of processed food. New foods will take time for you to adjust to in terms of taste and preference. If you eat a carrot every day for long enough, your taste buds will change and you will start enjoying it. You will start seeing it as a food instead of a punishment.
For beginners especially, I don’t believe in the all-in-or-all-out approach. I know of many people who try to start a new diet in the first few days of a new week, month or year and fail because they put too much pressure on themselves to change drastically in a short period of time. Baby steps that last longer are more beneficial than large steps that make you fall.
I hope that you enjoyed reading my post. Even better, I hope that you could take away something positive from it. As always feel free to like, comment on, share or reblog this post. Have a great day!