Knowing how to eat right is not something you are born with, it takes practice. Managing a wholesome diet program is a learning process that anyone can master whether at home or on the road. It’s not exactly news that healthy eating has its advantages. What constitutes healthy eating though?
How to Start Healthy Eating
Eating right is one of the kindest things you can do for your body. Without it, you risk high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other forms of chronic illness. Maintaining a healthy diet will give you energy and make eating overall more satisfying. There are three things to keep in mind.
- Balance – A healthy diet includes all the major food groups. Meals should be a balance of grains, proteins, vegetables, fruits and dairy.
- Variety – Mix up your foods and don’t be afraid to try new things. Proteins do not always have to be meats. Legumes and nuts are beneficial, as well. You will be more likely to stick to a healthy meal plan if you keep it interesting.
- Moderation – Eat when you are hungry, but stop when you are full. If you are craving sweets, treat yourself, but keep portion sizes reasonable. Any food is okay once in a while if you eat it in moderation.
The Healthy Eating Plate
Many may remember when healthy eating meant consulting the food pyramid. Eating right has not changed, but the tools available to learn from have gotten better. The Healthy Eating Plate is a visual reference to teach individuals about portion control.
If you imagine a dinner plate, a healthy meal consists of one-quarter whole grains, one-quarter healthy proteins, and one-quarter vegetables. Add an extra scoop of fruits. If you follow the healthy plate when setting up meal plans, you won’t go wrong.
When cooking or for salads, stick to healthy oils such as olive and canola. The Mayo Clinic advises you to avoid oils that contain saturated fats as they can raise cholesterol levels and put you and your family at risk for heart disease. Avoid cooking in lard, butter, coconut, palm or any tropical oils.
What to Do on the Road?
Eating while traveling can be a challenge when you are trying to stick to a healthy diet. There are some tricks to staying true to form when on the road.
- Breakfast – Go with what you know when ordering breakfast at a restaurant. A stack of hot cakes with butter and syrup obviously is not healthy. A vegetable omelet and side of wheat toast is, however. Instead of eating a pastry that is full of sugar, you can get a sweet fix from a bowl of whole grain cereal and fruit.
- Portion control – Restaurants are notorious for having huge portions. Consider ordering a couple different dishes for the whole family and having a buffet. This way, everyone gets a taste, but the portions are not outrageous. Ordering extra sides of vegetables will help fill up space.
- Take the extra to go – Another way to manage portions is to ask the server to pack up half the meal before bringing the plate to the table. This way you will not be tempted to overeat.
- Munch wisely – Take healthy snacks with you when you travel. You can load up a cooler with fresh-cut veggies, whole fruit and snack-size bags of nuts to keep hungry travelers happy.
- Treat yourself every once in a while – Do not be afraid to splurge a little while on vacation. Keep the portions small and share with as much as possible.
Eating right and exercise are two key elements to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Obesity is almost an epidemic in the United States. A smart eating strategy for the home and road will go a long way towards breaking that cycle.