Good nutrition is one of the keys to a healthy life. You can improve your health by keeping a balanced diet which means that you should eat lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy and a source of protein.
If you answer yes to any of the questions below, talk to your doctor about your health. You may need to improve your eating habits, for better nutrition.
- Are you overweight?
- Do diabetes, cancer, heart disease, or osteoporosis run in your family?
- Do you have a health problem or risk factor, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol?
- Did your doctor tell you that you can improve your health with better nutrition?
- Do you have questions about what foods you should eat, or whether you should take vitamins?
It’s not always easy changing our eating habits, but it helps if we first focus on small changes. Below are suggestions to improve your health.
Find the strong and weak points in your diet. Do you eat enough fruit and vegetables every day? Are you having enough calcium? Do you eat whole grain, high-fibre foods? Are you eating too much protein? Is your diet high in saturated fats?
It’s important to put yourself on the right track, but if you’re not, it can be simple enough to add more of the right foods to your daily diet, while cutting out some of the wrong foods.
Keep a track of your food intake by writing down what you eat and drink every day. This record will help you assess your diet, allowing you to see if you need to eat more or less from certain food groups. Almost everyone can benefit from cutting back on unhealthy fats.
If you eat a lot of fat, try cutting back. Unhealthy fats include things such as dark chicken meat, poultry skin, fatty cuts of pork, beef and lamb and high-fat dairy foods made from whole milk, such as cheese and butter.
There are a number of easy ways we can cut back on unhealthy fats. Bake or grill, instead of frying; take off the skin before cooking chicken or turkey. Try eating an oily fish, once or twice a week and replace meat-based proteins with other sources of protein, such as soy, beans or eggs once or twice a week too.
Reduce any extra fat. Use low-fat or nonfat versions of dairy foods but keep an eye out for added sugars. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables with your meals and as a snack. When you eat out, be aware of hidden fats and larger portion sizes.
Staying hydrated is important for good health. Sweetened drinks add lots of sugar and calories to your diet and caffeinated drinks such as tea and coffee are diuretic, so cut down or better still, cut them out altogether. Drinks lots of water instead.
Make exercise as part of your daily routine, such as taking the stairs instead of taking the lift, getting off the bus a stop or two before your destination, and walking the rest of the way. These habits can help you lose or maintain weight.
It is important to make small steps, rather than going ‘cold turkey’ this helps us avoid dramatic weight loss. Try to set realistic goals by making some of the small diet changes listed above, or walking daily.