Understanding Proper Nutrition
Let's take a look at how we can strive for a healthier diet — for ourselves and our families as we learn about smarter food choices that support proper nutrition.
Most of us are already aware that proper nutrition and exercise can help us maintain a healthy weight. However, what we should remember is that the advantages of a healthy diet clearly extend beyond weight loss.
Nutrition is crucial for our growth, development, and overall health and well-being. Furthermore, eating healthy food helps us prevent illnesses while also improving the quality and length of our lives.
How Nutrition is Key to Our Health
In essence, nutrition entails receiving the food and nutrients you require for good health and growth. Meanwhile, nutrients are the fuel that allows the body to break down food and then use it to repair and grow cells and tissue, which is what our metabolism is all about.
In order to stay healthy and thrive, our bodies need these seven kinds of nutrients:
Many of these nutrients help with energy production, while others help with digestion and hydration. Aside from these, they can also be critical factors that help strengthen our immune system, delay the onset of aging, and support our mental well-being.
What Comprises a Healthy Diet?
With all this information about the latest diet trends or the newest superfood ingredient, planning a healthy meal plan may seem overwhelming. However, proper nutrition is basically about eating a well-balanced diet, which is easier than you might believe. In fact, leading a healthy lifestyle can be quite simple and enjoyable.
Keep in mind that vitamins are only one part of our nutritional needs; fiber and healthy fats are also important. Here are some strategies recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for getting your entire family to eat healthier:
Increase your fiber intake.
The fiber in your diet is not only essential in digestion and regular bowel movement but also makes you feel fuller for extended periods of time. It also aids in blood sugar regulation and cholesterol reduction.
To incorporate more fiber in your diet, start the day with a high-fiber breakfast — such as whole-grain oatmeal with pecans or macadamia nuts sprinkled on top. Prepare sliced raw vegetables and keep them in to-go baggies for your snacks. Steaming vegetables (instead of boiling them) is also a better way to ensure nutrients are well-retained.
Opt for healthy fats.
Not all kinds of fat are bad for our health. In fact, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids are beneficial to your brain and heart. That said, trans fats, which raise the risk of heart disease, should be avoided. Sources of beneficial fats include olive oil, seeds, nuts, certain types of fish, and avocados.
For a healthier alternative, you can replace processed oils (such as canola or soybean oil) with cold-pressed oils such as extra-virgin olive oil or sesame oil. Twice a week, try to include fish with healthy fats—such as salmon or tuna, in your meals.
Reduce the sodium in your diet.
Balance is key to good nutrition, and this involves avoiding excessive amounts of certain components like sodium (salt). Sodium causes an increase in our blood pressure, which raises the risk for heart disease and stroke.
As much as possible, look for products that say "low sodium" when shopping for groceries. Try to avoid processed foods, as these may also have high sodium content. Instead of salt, squeeze fresh lemon juice, add a dash of no-salt spice blends, or fresh herbs to bring flavor to your dishes.
Go for variety.
Vegetables and fruits come in a variety of colors and textures. They can be enjoyable to eat as well—all we need to do is choose properly, prepare efficiently, and display imaginatively. Choose largely from what's in season, with a few exceptions from what's less common and more expensive.
Ultimately, we can make our mealtimes more meaningful by making the right nutrition decisions, both for ourselves and for our household. From there, we can make healthy eating a regular habit.