HEALTH & WELLNESS

What is a healthy eating plan?


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By Cheryl Haining<  

Healthy eating is important for everyone, from babies to the elderly. Learning to eat well is more than just eating a variety of foods so that your body gets the proper nutrients. It is also about enjoyment of foods and maintaining a healthy weight. Anyone can eat for good health. It involves two simple steps. First is to eat foods from all the different food groups. The second step is to eat a variety of foods from each group every day. Sounds simple, however so many people are not following a healthy eating plan. Busy lifestyles, availability of fast food, advertising and a lack of understanding of what healthy food is, all work against people trying for healthier eating. Unhealthy eating can cause illness and weight problems. Type-2 diabetes is increasing dramatically and is directly linked to the increase in obesity. Heart disease and some cancers are also linked to obesity.

A study by the Medical Journal of Australia found that 56% of Australian adults are considered overweight or obese. This is a 61% increase in obesity since 1991 Un-treated obesity poses significant, even life-threatening health risks. Everyone understands the importance of having car and home insurance. Have you considered the importance of nutritional insurance? This means eating the foods that will protect you against future disease, and understanding the benefits nutritional supplements can provide.

If you are currently not following a healthy plan you will be surprised that you are most likely not eating enough. You may need to increase the amount of food you consume.

Daily Food Suggestions
Fruit 2-3 servings, Vegetables 5-7 servings, Protein 3-6 servings, Whole grains 2-3 servings, Dairy 2-3 servings

Antioxidant Super Foods
Antioxidants help prevent cellular damage. Eat plenty of foods rich in antioxidants such as almonds, berries, citrus, carrots, spinach, tomatoes, and bell peppers.
1. Top your cereal with almonds or berries; add tomatoes to sandwiches, soups or stews; layer your whole grain bread sandwich with slices of peppers and fresh spinach.
2. Pack a snack bag of nuts, baby carrots, grape tomatoes, and bell pepper slices for a nutritious pick-me-up between meals.
3. Protein snack bars carry easily for quick energy and a tasty treat.

Calcium
Calcium is the super nutrient that keeps bones and teeth strong. Now research shows that low-fat dairy also helps people lose weight! The best sources of calcium come from the cow.
1. Start your day with a protein-rich breakfast. Add a bowl of whole grain cereal topped with skim milk and fresh fruit for a breakfast of champions. 2. Snack on low-fat yogurt or cheese between meals for an energizing treat. 3. Calcium-fortified juices and cereals are excellent alternatives to meet your three-a-day requirement.

Fiber
Fiber does wonderful things for the body, from lowering cholesterol levels, keeping you regular, and perhaps preventing certain cancers. Grandma called it roughage and we need plenty of it each day.
1. Read food labels to find whole grain breads and cereals that will provide three or more grams of fiber per serving. A bowl full of bran or high-fiber cereal is a great start to meeting your daily needs.
2. Eat whole fruits and veggies for a healthy dose of fiber. Aim for five to nine servings a day. Juices don't contain as much fiber as whole fruit.
3. Dried beans and lentils are loaded with fiber and protein, so add them to soups, stews, salads, eggs, and salsas.

Soy
Soy is a super nutrient and excellent source of protein. It can lower cholesterol, which can help prevent cardiovascular disease.
1. Tofu takes on the flavor of foods that it is cooked with. Try a stir-fry of colorful veggies and cubed tofu with a light Asian sauce for a quick meal. You can also find cereals at the store loaded with both soy and fiber. Serve with skim milk and you'll get three super nutrients for breakfast.
2. Take a soy protein bar for a quick snack or lunch during the day. Soy nuts are another great portable snack option.

Water
Most of us don't get enough of this precious stuff. As a result, we may look peaked and feel fatigued. Our bodies are composed of more fluid than anything else, so water is a vital nutrient to maintain our well being.
1. Fill up a two-litre water bottle each morning and keep it with you for quick and refreshing drinks throughout the day.
2. Don't rely on thirst; this sensation diminishes with age. Drink often and choose from nutritious liquids, including 100% fruit and vegetable juices, skim or low fat milk, broths, water, and herbal teas.

Never skip meals. It is important for your metabolism to eat three meals a day in addition to two snacks.

By following a healthy eating plan you will maintain your body in optimal fitness. You will decrease your risk of developing life style diseases. Your body will reward you by being in peak condition.

Cheryl Haining is a skin care, body shape and nutrition coach. She has her own successful business. Her mission statement is to ensure everyone reaches his or her optimum body shape, size and condition.