Healthy Eating, Better Living
Aside from physical activity, stress management, and proper sleep, good health is heavily influenced by healthy eating. This includes but is not limited to the quantity of food that is ingested, but also the nutritional content of these foods and your personal eating habits. Healthy eating has so many medical benefits, which include reducing the likelihood of heart disease and obesity, as well as social benefits, such as eating with your loved ones and building healthy habits together.
Firstly, it is important to incorporate a variety of different healthy foods into your diet. While this ensures that you do not get tired of eating the same things over and over again, food variety is extremely important for the purposes of nutrition. Plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats should be a large part of most meals and snacks. These foods are rich in vitamins and minerals, fibre, and protein, which are needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle. A highly varied diet filled with healthy foods can result in wide-spanning health benefits that range from improved cognition and mood, better bone, heart, and gut health, and ongoing maintenance of a healthy weight.
Building on top of the previous point, it is also important to know what foods to limit and avoid. High-sodium foods, when eaten in excess, can negatively affect your heart health by increasing blood pressure. Added sugar is converted to food energy and later stored as fat when it is not completely used up. Consumption of fats, especially saturated and trans fats, leads to cholesterol and plaque buildup in blood vessels, increasing the likelihood of heart disease, heart attacks, and stroke. Highly processed foods often contain a combination of these, resulting in negative health outcomes for individuals who consume them frequently.
Developing good eating habits is often an ‘underrated’ component of healthy eating. In fact, there is a wide array of evidence to show that eating at a slower pace may help you feel full earlier. The advantages are two-fold, as digestion and nutrient absorption are improved, and early satiety decreases the likelihood of stomach upset associated with overeating. While appetite regulation and understanding when you feel full is challenging in itself, healthy eating habits come with sustained efforts to adhere to them. Increasing mindfulness when eating is a lesser-known habit that is not tried as often as other methods, but the simplicity of it definitely warrants a try!
Lastly, it should be noted that enjoying food and eating well should come with a sense of enjoyment. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the challenges of developing healthy eating habits, as it requires a certain degree of an ‘overhaul’ of your current habits. Change and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone can be scary, but there are many ways to manage this. For instance, cooking for yourself and for others allows you to discover and try new recipes, revamp existing ones to become more healthy, and unwind after long days. If cooking is not for you, the same can be said for eating out. Both of these also allow you to adhere to cultural traditions and include others in mealtimes, making eating more enjoyable.
In conclusion, the nutritional and social benefits of healthy eating are multifold. Eating well necessitates paying attention to nutritional labels, considering healthier alternatives when shopping for food, and including others that help you develop healthier habits and improve your quality of life. Although it will take hard work and patience, healthy eating truly does result in happier, healthy living that is dictated by you.
- Canada H. Welcome to Canada’s food guide [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2022 Apr 10]. Available from: https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/
- Hawton K, Ferriday D, Rogers P, Toner P, Brooks J, Holly J, et al. Slow Down: Behavioural and Physiological Effects of Reducing Eating Rate. Nutrients. 2018 Dec 27;11(1):50.