Healthy eating has been humanity’s concern for hundreds of years. As with any discipline with such a lengthy history, there are hundreds of misconceptions, myths, and outright lies being circulated not just in casual conversation and social media, but even in publications professing to be an objective and professional source. It’s only natural to wonder what foods are good for you, which are bad, and what, exactly, is the right balance to strive for.
First, let’s get one thing out of the way: there’s no ideal, one-size-fits-all perfectly healthy diet.
But Aren’t Diets Key to Good Health?
In common use, diet brings to mind images of fasting and celebrities bringing themselves to the point of near-starvation. It’s synonymous with sacrifice and suffering – and if you buy into the myth of a super diet, then it might as well become a reality. These “fad diets” have nothing to do with proper health and nutrition, and everything to do with trying to liberate you of your money.
[Also Read: Benefits Of Spices]
As FamilyDoctor.org explains, the easiest ways to spot these fad diets is to look for these tell-tale signs:
- Promises of helping to lose weight excessively fast. If you’re losing above two pounds per week, you’re only dehydrating yourself and wasting money.
- Testimonials from customers and experts that contain extraordinary claims. In many cases, these are either fake or colored – usually through the use of monetary incentives.
- Simple conclusions from complex research. You cannot condense the findings of a years-long study into a single sentence.
- Limit your food choices. A good, balanced diet requires a variety of food types and sources.
If you desire a good diet, then short of visiting a nutritionist, it’s best to familiarize yourself with the subject and create one for yourself. It’s a fun, horizon-expanding exercise – not to mention, you can only benefit from it.
Not All Sources Are Equal, However
Of course, there are sources and then there are sources. One of the most pervasive and iconic elements of diets is the Food Pyramid, created by the United States Department of Agriculture. This icon of healthy eating has spread worldwide, beyond the borders of the United States and entered the common consciousness.
However, it is not a good reference for planning your diet. Fortunately, there are those who work on creating reliable sources of information for your dietary planning needs, like the Harvard School of Public Health, whose updated Pyramid of Healthy Eating is an excellent point of reference for planning.
But What Do You Need to Eat?
For a balanced, healthy nutrition, you need to ignore conventional wisdom and stick to the facts. The three basic building blocks of your nutrition should be:
Whole grains: Oatmeal, whole wheat bread, brown rice, and similar contain starch, which is an essential source of energy, still encased in grain layers. This delays digestion and helps manage stable levels of blood sugar and insulin, also reducing the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Healthy fats and oils: Fats are usually demonized, due to equivocation. However, there are fats and then there are fats. The good ones are unsaturated fats, present in olive, canola, soy, corn, sunflower, peanut, and other vegetable oils. They are also found in nuts, seeds, avocados, and fatty fish. Healthy fats are a good source of energy, improve cholesterol levels, and reduce the incidence of heart disease.
Vegetables and fruits: The more the better, assuming plenty of variety. The laundry list of benefits is extensive and includes lower blood pressure, lower risk of contracting gastrointestinal disease or vision loss, lower cancer risk, and so on and so forth. Note that not all vegetables are grown equal – potatoes, due to their high starch content, should be used carefully.
These three elements are the foundation of every healthy diet. You can then easily build on them with your favourite nuts, seeds, and beans (which are excellent sources of protein, fiver, vitamins, and minerals), as well as fish, poultry, and eggs (great sources of healthy fats, when enjoyed in moderation).
Of course, even with the most careful planning, you can run into situations where you simply can’t fulfil your every nutritional need – particularly when it comes to vitamin intake and other micronutrients. This is where supplementation comes in: Health supplements that provide you with a concentrated dose of vitamins and other essential nutrients are good for ensuring a healthy diet and meeting your body’s needs. As such, you can buy health supplements online at BigChemist without worrying about whether it’s the right thing to do. If it ensures that you don’t run short on a critical nutrient, it’s good.
Of course, as with all diets, finding inspiration for cooking your own dishes or even figuring out what you should avoid can be difficult. Thankfully, the popularity of Indian cuisine abroad has created a wealth of sources that can help narrow down your choices. Sites such as Livestrong are a good starting point for cutting down on unhealthy foods (even if it requires letting go of staples like cheese, cream, or basmati rice) and picking the right foods (lentils, chickpeas, and leaner meats). Keep in mind, however, that moderation is key to a healthy diet. Even the unhealthiest of foods can be eaten without worry if you don’t go overboard with the size of your meal.