Healthy eating takes commitment and knowledge, but it doesn't have to be a challenge. A well-rounded diet includes whole grains, low-fat dairy, lean protein and lots of fruits and vegetables. To maintain a healthy weight, women should avoid excess calories from sugars, fat and alcohol and balance healthy eating with an active lifestyle.
Start the day off right with a healthy breakfast to set the stage for healthy eating all day and to help control your weight, improve your concentration and lower your risk for some chronic diseases. A study published in the “American Journal of Epidemiology” reports that eating breakfast can help reduce weight gain in middle-aged adults. The Mayo Clinic recommends a breakfast that consists of whole grains, low-fat protein, low-fat dairy and fruits and vegetables. Eating a meal with different food groups ensures that you get the complex carbohydrates, fiber, protein and healthy fat you need to make you feel satisfied until your next meal. One healthy eating secret is to incorporate eggs into your breakfast. A new study from Louisiana State University showed that people who ate eggs in the morning consumed fewer calories at lunch than people who ate cold cereal. Try an egg sandwich on a whole-grain bagel with fruit juice, an omelet with veggies and low-fat cheese or yogurt with berries and flaxseeds, if you aren’t able to eat an egg.
Pack Portable Snacks
When you pack snacks, you have more control over what is going in your body over the course of a day. You are also less likely to give into unhealthy temptations or overeat at your next meal when you get the valuable nutrients your body needs. For easy, non-perishable snacks try nuts, whole-grain crackers with peanut butter, low-fat popcorn and fresh or dried fruit. A healthy eating secret is to stash the snacks in your purse, car or desk drawer for whenever you feel hungry.
Avoid Processed and Refined Foods
Some fad diets claim carbohydrates are bad, but that’s simply not true. Many carbohydrates provide your body with the fuel it needs to function all day and also give you valuable nutrients. Choose whole grains, vegetables, fruits and beans over processed or refined carbohydrates. Refined and processed carbohydrates include items like white bread, white rice, pastries, candy and pasta. Unrefined, whole-food carbohydrates help you feel fuller longer after a meal. Long term, this healthy eating practice can reduce your risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Savor Your Food
With a fast-paced lifestyle, it’s easy to multitask while eating or eat quickly while on the go. But not paying attention to your meal can result in overeating, since you aren’t paying attention to what you eat. Dr. Lynn Rossy, health psychologist and founder of the Mindfulness Practice Center, promotes the BASICS of mindful eating to support your body’s health. BASICS stand for: B – breathe and belly check for hunger and satiety before you eat, A – asses your food, S – slow down, I – investigate your hunger and satiety throughout the meal, C – chew your food thoroughly and S – savor your food (ref 6). While going through that process for every meal may not be realistic, Dr. Rossy’s point is to be mindful of what, when, how and why you are eating. Doing this may change your entire relationship with food.
- Eat Right Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Healthy Eating for Women
- Mayoclinic.com: Healthy Breakfast: Quick, Flexible Options to Grab at Home
- Fitness Magazine: Good Eggs: 6 Easy, Healthy Recipes
- Eat Right Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Healthy Eating for the Hectic American
- University of Missouri Tasting Mindfulness: BASICS of Mindful Eating
- Harvard School of Public Health: Carbohydrates
Poppy Carpenter graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. In addition to teaching journalism to junior high students, she also covers health and fitness for "PUSH Monthly" and Angie's List.