Experts agree the key to healthy eating is the time-tested advice of balance, variety and moderation. In short, that means eating a wide variety of foods without getting too many calories or too much of any one nutrient. These 10 tips can help you follow that advice while still enjoying the foods you eat:
✔ Eat a variety of nutrient-rich foods. You need more than 40 different nutrients for good health, and no single food supplies them all. Your daily food selection should include bread and other whole-grain products; fruits; vegetables; dairy products; and meat, poultry, fish and other protein foods.
✔ Enjoy plenty of whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Do you eat six-11 servings from the bread, rice, cereal and pasta group, three of which should be whole grains? Do you eat two-four servings of fruit and three-five servings of vegetables?
✔ Maintain a healthy weight. The weight that's right for you depends on many factors, including your sex, height, age and heredity. Excess body fat increases your chances for high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, some types of cancer and other illnesses. But being too thin can increase your risk for osteoporosis, menstrual irregularities and other health problems. If you're constantly losing and regaining weight, a registered dietician can help you develop sensible eating habits for successful weight management. Regular exercise is also important to maintaining a healthy weight.
✔ Eat moderate portions. If you keep portion sizes reasonable, it's easier to eat the foods you want and stay healthy.
✔ Eat regular meals. Skipping meals can lead to out-of-control hunger, often resulting in overeating.
✔ Reduce, don't eliminate certain foods. Most people eat for pleasure as well as nutrition. If your favourite foods are high in fat, salt or sugar, the key is moderating how much of these foods you eat and how often you eat them. Identify major sources of these ingredients in your diet and make changes, if necessary.
✔ Balance your food choices over time. Not every food has to be 'perfect'. When eating a food high in fat, salt or sugar, select other foods that are low in these ingredients. If you miss out on any food group one day, make up for it the next.
✔ Know your diet pitfalls. To improve your eating habits, you first have to know what's wrong with them. Write down everything you eat for three days. Then check your list according to the rest of these tips.
✔ Make changes gradually. Just as there are no 'superfoods' or easy answers to a healthy diet, don't expect to totally revamp your eating habits overnight. Changing too much, too fast can get in the way of success. Begin to remedy excesses or deficiencies with modest changes that can add up to positive, lifelong eating habits.