Research has shown that a healthy diet coupled with other smart choices such as regular physical exercise, not letting daily stress take a toll on you, and being in an environment that promotes both mind and body balance are recipes for a long, high-quality life.
However, making smart diet choices can be overwhelming in an era where every new product is being touted as a ‘natural’ remedy for an array of chronic health conditions.
There is also the misconception that every food that tastes good is bad for your health. Despite all these complications and fabricated claims, choosing the right high-nutrition foods for your body is actually quite easy and straight-forward.
In this post, we will show you some of the basic factors that you should consider when looking for that high-quality, nutritious diet.
1. Cereals For Breakfast
As you probably already know, cereals come with fantastic health benefits including being a rich source of protein, energy, and minerals. Studies suggest that healthy cereals can help maintain optimum blood sugar levels, support healthy digestion, prevent constipation, and even help manage hemorrhoids.
If indeed cereals can benefit the body in all these ways, then what a better way to start your day than with a heavy, high-quality, healthy cereals breakfast? Breakfast is arguably the most important meal of the day. It acts as a signal to restart your body and metabolism after many hours of fasting and inactivity during sleep.
It is, therefore, essential that you choose a healthy meal for breakfast with adequate protein, vitamins, and minerals. However, common breakfast cereals are packed with tons of potentially harmful ingredients, such as artificial sweeteners and colors.
When looking for healthy breakfast cereals, go for the ones with high proteins, low carbohydrates, and high fiber. Cereals with other ‘foreign’ ingredients such as artificial sweeteners, colors, and GMOs should be avoided at all costs.
2. Go for Whole-Grained Bread Instead of Refined Bread
Another way that you can use to improve your diet is by going for whole-grained bread as opposed to the refined one.
Numerous studies have linked refined bread to multiple health complications. On the other hand, research has shown that whole-grain bread can benefit the human body in many ways including a reduced risk of cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
Whole-grained bread is also a good source of Vitamins B, fiber, and other essential minerals, such as iron, zinc, manganese, and magnesium.
3. Check Your Eating Speed
It is not all about your choice for food, but your eating speed will also determine how likely you are to gain weight.
Different studies have shown that fast eaters are up to 115% more likely to gain excessive weight than slow eaters.
How is this possible?
According to experts, our eating and getting full is controlled by special hormones. The hormones communicate or send signals to your brain telling them whether you need more food or you are full.
However, it may take between 20-30 minutes before the hormones can send these signals to your brain. Therefore, slow eating gives your brain enough time to receive and process these signals. This has been confirmed by several studies that have shown that slow eaters are more likely to consume fewer calories than fast eaters.
Eating slowly also gives you enough time to properly chew your food, thus aiding in digestion.
4. Consume More Proteins
Often described as the king of nutrients, proteins play a vital role in your body. Apart from helping you retain your muscle mass (muscle mass determines the body’s metabolism rate), proteins may help increase the number of calories burned by your body by up to 90 per day.
As you age or lose weight, you are likely to experience muscle mass loss. Increasing your protein intake will prevent this.
Try to include some proteins in each meal that you consume. Apart from curbing your cravings, proteins will also make you feel fuller for an extended period hence reducing the risk of overeating.
There are many sources of proteins such as eggs, lean meat, beans, peanut butter, nuts, and dairy products.
5. Fruits and Vegetables
One of the best things about fruits and vegetables is that they are low in fat. Apart from adding essential nutrients, fruits and vegetables also add flavor to your diet. Go for colorful vegetables and fruits, especially dark green and orange.
You might want to consider the following fruits and vegetables:
- Leafy greens such as cabbage, chard, bok choy, and romaine lettuce.
- Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower.
- Dark, leafy greens such as kale and spinach.
- Bell peppers, snap peas. Asparagus and green beans.
- Blueberries, cherries, strawberries, grapes, and pomegranates.
- Tomatoes and avocados.
- Citrus fruits, eg, oranges, and grapefruits.
6. Look For Added Sugars
Some healthful foods such as spaghetti sauce and yogurt can contain high sugar volumes.
It is, therefore, crucial that you examine the product to ensure it does not contain harmful levels of sugars.
Please note that, although you may not see the word ‘sugar’ as an ingredient in a product, it doesn’t mean that the product is sugar-free. This is because sugar goes by many names, including dextrose and syrup.
Be careful when it comes to fruit-flavored products, as some of them may not even contain any fruit.
Check the Nutrition Facts and if you notice the term ‘fruit-flavored’ in those candies or popsicles, know that the product contains fruit flavors and not real fruit. Apart from having zero nutritional value, most of these artificial flavors are also harmful to your health.
Making smart nutrition choices should not be as hard as it sounds. The secret here is understanding your limitations. In short, you don’t have to adopt rapid changes at once. Instead of making major or big changes to your diet (which may be overwhelming), start with a few, small, achievable changes.
When choosing any product, don’t forget to read the label to ensure that it meets your desired nutrition needs. Understanding the types of ingredients used will also give you an idea of the kind of oil (such as soy, canola, or palm) used in the product.