A service of apple and grapes mashed and mixed into well-whipped yogurt, looking like purple and white whirls in a bowl, is as attractive and delicious as any fruit flavored ice cream. Still the former is more nutritious and healthier than the latter because it is sweetened naturally and served with real fruits rather than the flavor extracts. That is the discretion which can make a vast difference to our health and well being. A strong, well nourished body that is energetic all day long – this is what all of us want and this is possible just by choosing the right food and eating healthy.
Discerning the difference between healthy and unhealthy foods is the key to better health. We must know that every food choice we make has a direct bearing on our health.
- Buy Whole Foods: Unprocessed foods are not only more nutritious when compared to processed foods, they are also cheaper in most cases.
- Look for Colorful Foods: Color in food is an indicator of vitamin, mineral and phytochemical content. Red and pink grapefruit, for example, contain the heart healthy, cancer fighting, phytonutrient called lycopene. White grapefruit does not.
- Cut Down on Fats and Fatty Foods: You should be careful to avoid not just oil and butter, but also hidden fats in foods like meat, cheese, eggs, nuts, cake, chocolates etc. Hidden fat should not exceed 30 to 40 grams per day.
- Salty is Unhealthy: Cheeses, preserves, snacks, cooking aids like stock cubes, mustards and concentrates are very salty. Using too much of these is not good for health. Too much salt of salt not only leads to fluid retention, but also increases the risk of developing high blood pressure. Use herbs and spices instead of salt in cooking and be very sparing with salt.
- Wet Your Whistle: Drink about 8 to 10 glasses of water per day, it is calorie free, fat free and a vital part of your everyday diet. Water helps flush your systems, especially the kidneys and bladder, of waste products and toxins. You can squeeze in a bit of lime to help the taste.
- Small Changes, Big Benefits: Baked instead of fried; lettuce, tomatoes and onions instead of cheese in sandwiches and burgers; lemon, garlic, onion, rosemary, curry powder, cayenne pepper instead of salt as seasoning; lemon juice drizzles instead of high-calorie gravies, dips sauces and salad dressings; whole wheat bread instead of white bread. These changes can give you huge calorie savings.
- Dessert: You can have dessert, but just don’t overdo it: Low fat yoghurt, fat free sorbets can be better alternatives to syrup-rich ghee packed sweets; a sliver of cake and not a chunk can satisfy your sweet tooth; frozen grapes and bananas, a scoop of ice cream and not a triple scoop sundae etc. Make moderate choices as opposed to high calorie sweets and pastries.
- Five Small Meals: Five small meals will kick-start the metabolism. A second breakfast is on and so is an afternoon snack. Just ensure you keep portion sizes down so that your total energy intake does not exceed the required level.
- Make Tasty and Nutritious Food: Cook for a short time with less fat or water. This helps retain flavor and nutrients of the food as most of the vitamins and minerals are partially soluble in water or fat and are sensitive to heat, oxygen and light. Also, store your fruits and vegetables in a cool, dark place, and use them as quickly as possible.
- Less Animal Protein: Animal protein has a higher biological rating than vegetable protein but can be harmful on the long run. Combine your vegetable protein with other protein rich foods such as milk, milk products and cereals.
Making a few simple, healthy and nutritious changes in our diet can have a profound and positive impact on our health, well being, energy levels and even our life span.