1/10/2019

It's Time to Reconsider Your Eating Habits



We’re in the first month of the new year and chances are that you’ve made some resolutions to improve your overall quality of life. For many of us, this means being a little more conscious in regards to the foods that we use to fuel our body. Nowadays, it’s ridiculously easy to slip into extremely unhealthy diets. Fast food outlets seem to lie at every corner and convenience food is more readily available than ever. Sweets, cakes, and other treats that should be occasional become daily snacks. It’s not all too surprising that obesity is on the rise and that increasing numbers of people are experiencing health problems as a direct result of what they’re eating. The good news is that there is opportunity for change. While there are more options when it comes to unhealthy food options, there are more healthy options infiltrating the market too. So, let’s take a moment to reconsider your eating habits and to guide you in the right direction!

Creating a Balanced Diet

The first step that you need to take when it comes to creating a healthy diet for yourself is to focus on creating a balanced diet. So many people make the mistake of trying to cut different food groups out completely in a bid to lose weight or be healthier. But the truth is that our bodies need a combination of a host of different foods to function well. After all, different foods provide us with different benefits and help our bodies to function in different ways. The good news is that researchers and nutritionists have come up with main food groups that we need to incorporate into our meals and snacks each day.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are your body’s main source of energy. So, no matter what fad diets might say, it’s important that you do get them into your system. If your main focus is weight loss, sure, you might want to reduce the amount of carbs that you eat. This will encourage your body to use fat for energy. However, if you are already of a healthy weight, skimping out on carbs could be a bad idea - your body will start to use proteins instead, which can impact your strength and muscle growth. Foods that contain plenty of carbohydrates also tend to be our main source of fibre, so by cutting carbs out completely, you could experience digestive issues.

Protein

Protein is important for pretty much every cell in your body. It is used to build and repair tissues and it can also be used to create enzymes and hormones. Now, there are plenty sources of protein out there, but try to opt for the healthier sources. Fish contains plenty of protein and you can find great recipes to incorporate into your diet at www.citarella.com. There are also plenty of plant based proteins, which we will discuss in a moment.

Dairy

Dairy isn’t one of the most essential food groups for many of us. But it can contain protein and a wide range of vitamins and minerals such as calcium. If you opt to cut dairy out of your diet due to lactose intolerance or ethical preferences, you can source calcium from leafy greens, legumes, dried fruit, and tofu.

Fruit and Vegetables

Make sure you get your five a day! Five portions of fruit and vegetables can make sure that your body receives all of the vitamins and minerals that it needs to flourish. Fruit and veg are another great source of dietary fibre too.

Fats and Sugars

Fats and sugars tend to get a bit of a bad rep. This is understandable. But you can eat them in moderation. Fat is a source of essential fatty acids that our bodies cannot make themselves. It also helps our bodies to absorb vitamins A, D, and E. We don’t actually need any sugar in our diets. But it can serve as a sweetener for an occasional treat.

Portions

Once you’ve got to grips with the basics of forming three meals throughout the day that cover all of the food groups into our diet, it’s time to start focusing on portions. Many of us eat portions that are much larger than we should really be eating. So, it’s time to start implementing some portion control into our lives. A good place to start is to figure out how many calories you should be eating on a daily basis. This differs depending on who you are, but some guidelines to follow could be:

  • 2000 Kcal per day for women
  • 2500 Kcal per day for men
Remember that this is only a guideline. If you are particularly active, if you are elderly, or if you are unable to exercise as much as the average person should (one hundred and fifty minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week or seventy five minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise each week), you may have to follow different rules. Feel free to ask your GP for more specific recommendations for you as an individual.

Meal Times

When it comes down to it, meal planning will largely depend on your own schedule. But you should try your best to eat three main meals, spread out evenly throughout the day. These are, of course, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It is also fine to have small snacks between meals if you’re feeling hungry. Just try your best to keep these snacks healthy. Consider a piece of fruit, some carrots or other raw vegetables dipped in hummus, or reduced sugar cereal bars.

Vegetarianism and Veganism

There are dietary choices out there that you can make that benefit more than your own bodily wellbeing. Vegetarianism and veganism are options that benefit you and others. Cutting meat and animal products out of your diet can encourage you to make healthier food choices at the same time as helping animals and helping the environment.

Health Benefits

Let’s start by looking at the health benefits of becoming vegetarian or vegan. Various studies have shown that eating meat - red meat in particular - can be extremely detrimental to your overall health and wellbeing. People who cut meat out of their diets tend to have a lower risk of developing heart disease and type two diabetes. This is because meats tend to be high in saturated fats. Veganism also tends to help maintain healthy kidneys and boosts insulin sensitivity. Just remember that becoming vegetarian or vegan doesn’t automatically make you healthy. If you survive on a diet of plant based junk food, like pizza, vegan cakes, or chips, you will quickly get out of shape. You also need to make sure that you replace the good aspects of food groups that you cut out. Make sure to get protein from nuts, tofu, seitan, chickpeas, nutritional yeast, and lentils. You can gain calcium from leafy greens, such as spinach and kale. If you become vegan, you’ll also have to source vitamin B12 from vitamin supplements.

For the Animals

The meat industry is a nightmare for animals. While we all know that meat is sourced from animals and that animals have to die for our meat consumption, many of us choose to turn a blind eye to this. But maybe it would be a little more difficult to do this if we opened our eyes to how animals are treated in the lead up to their slaughter. They tend to live in small spaces, they are killed before they reach maturity (as there’s no point paying to feed an animal that won’t get much bigger), and they have painful processes carried out on them. Chickens tend to be declawed and have their beaks cut to prevent them from pecking one another in enclosed spaces. Piglets are neutered while conscious. All of this without anaesthetic! You can learn more about this aspect of the meat industry by watching documentaries like Cowspiracy and Earthlings, and by reading books like Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals.

For the Environment

It has been claimed that taking on a vegan diet is the single biggest way that anyone can make a positive impact on the environment. We are becoming increasingly aware of the ways that human activity are destroying the planet that we live on - we are polluting the oceans, we are destroying habitats through deforestation, we are creating sufficient gases to promote the rate at which the polar ice caps are melting. However, going vegan could reduce an individual’s carbon footprint by an astounding seventy three percent. If everyone went vegan, global farmland use would reduce by seventy five percent - that’s the equivalent amount of land as the entirety of the US, China, Australia, and the EU combined! Just remember that livestock for consumption produce sixty percent of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions when the products that they produce only provide eighteen percent of the calories consumed worldwide and thirty seven percent of the protein consumed worldwide.

There really is a lot to think about when it comes to your diet. So, if you’re planning on leading a healthier and better lifestyle, why not mull over some of the information that we have just been through! You don’t have to make major changes all at once. Instead, you can slowly implement change into your lifestyle at a speed that you feel comfortable with!

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