Steps To Start A Healthy And Nutritious Diet
For those who have never learned to eat in a healthy manner and do not understand proper nutrition, starting to live a healthier lifestyle can seem difficult, but it need not be.
With a little knowledge anyone can start on the road to good health.
Healthy eating is essential for maintaining proper body function, having energy and vitality and for living a disease-free life. For those who have trouble with healthy eating, breaking unhealthy habits could possibly be the most difficult aspect of the process. But, for those who really want to live the best lifestyle possible, it is essential to adhere to a proper diet and stick with it for the long term.
A great starting step when you wish to begin a healthy eating plan is to rid your home of bad foods. What are bad foods? A good place to start is with anything that is processed, this includes, cookies and soda. Processed, packaged foods typically have little in the way of the nutrients the body needs.
Keeping junk food and drinks out of your kitchen can help to prevent temptation. Instead, stock your kitchen with healthy snacks, such as, carrot sticks, fruit, cheese, yogurt, and various whole wheat products, like crackers and rice cakes.
For those who have a sweet tooth many nutrition bars are available that have much less sugar than candy and cookies, these include, Atkins Bars in a variety of flavors, including, Brownies, they taste great and have zero sugar.
What do healthy meals include? Lean proteins, and healthy carb sides, including whole grain starches and vegetables. Also, fruit is a good choice for dessert. Overall, a healthy eating plan includes the recommended daily allowances from all the food groups, and when you look at that chart please notice that sugar is nowhere on the chart.
One more step in learning to eat a more nutritious diet, is to take the time to learn which foods are the healthiest and how they work in the body. It’s common knowledge that fruits, vegetables, low-fat and skim dairy products are healthy, but, few individuals fully grasp why. The secret is understanding nutrients.
Once you appreciate how specific nutrients work in the body, you’ll be more prone to make these healthy choices at meal and snack times. Knowledge is power!
Cook At Home
Control the ingredients and the cooking methods and you control your health. Don’t leave it to chance and make sure that you prepare the best meals for you and your family.
When beginning a new healthy diet, it’s also wise to consider a consistent meal schedule. If you frequently eat in a rush or at odd times of day, it is likely you aren’t eating healthy foods. Many people have very busy lives, and eating junk and fast food on the go is typical. It’s important to plan ahead. Rather than grabbing a fast food lunch on the run, take a bagged lunch to work, possibly a tuna salad sandwich on whole wheat or a fresh salad. The weekend is a good time to plan for the week, and prep food that can be used easily throughout the week.
Plan ahead for healthy dinners as well, by cooking ahead of time and using the freezer to its fullest advantage. There are many healthy frozen meals available at the market as well, and be a good alternative for those who really cannot cook. These include, Healthy Choice among others.
Shop The Periphery Of The Market
Did you know that the periphery of any super market has all the healthy foods, while the inside aisles carry all the processed and unhealthy ones. Think about it, the product aisle, the fresh meats, and the dairy products are all on the periphery. Next time you are at the market take a stroll and look around the periphery to see what is there.
Begin with small steps. Even if you merely substitute one soda a day with a glass of water, or one candy bar with an apple, it counts. If you normally eat fast food each day for lunch, try eating a healthy meal instead for half of the time. When you begin with tiny steps, it won’t feel too drastic and you can take your time to find out about healthy foods which you can learn to love in the long run.
The Best Carbohydrates For Healthy Cooking
When it comes to eating healthy for a fit body, carbohydrates are a controversial topic. The most common advice you will hear in your pursuit of a healthy diet for losing, gaining or maintaining body weight is to “cut down” on carbs. Some people do actually cut down extremely on carbs. Unfortunately for them, plants and fruits have a lot of carbohydrates, so do grains. So fruits, grains and vegetables are bad for a fit body?
The answer is a straightforward no. Even though carbohydrates might not be essential, cutting them completely is not recommended. In fact, diets low in dietary fiber, all the components of which are carbohydrates, increases the rate of mortality. Many health organizations recommend various levels (45%-75%) of carbohydrate intake for a healthy diet.
There are different types of carbohydrates; some are indeed evil, others lie on the “cute kitten” side of the evil scale. Learn to differentiate between these two so that you can get the benefits without harming your body.
What are carbohydrates?
The first step in differentiating the carbs that are good for you from the carbs that are not is to know what carbohydrates actually are. Carbohydrates are basically hydrates of carbon. There are simplex carbohydrates (monosaccharides and disaccharides) and complex carbohydrates (oligosaccharides and polysaccharides).
The simple carbohydrates include sugars such as glucose, fructose and sucrose. Foods that contain a high amount of simple carbs should be avoided as they are usually not very nutritious because they don’t have much vitamins, micronutrients and minerals. You can consider them as “empty calories.” Refined sugar falls into this category.
Complex carbohydrates such as starch and dietary fiber are found in vegetables such as broccoli, corn, sweet potatoes, beans and more, along with grains such as wheat, rice, oats, etc.
They take a longer time to break down inside the body and have less impact on blood sugars than “granulated sweets” and simple carbs.
So complex carbs are good and simple carbs are bad?
Unfortunately, it is not that easy. Refined white bread does have complex carbohydrates, but the refining process strips the fiber along with a lot of vitamins and minerals. Fruits on the other hand contain a lot more simple carbohydrates, but, they are still beneficial for health as they offer various vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and phytochemicals.
Confused? Don’t worry; the following guidelines will help you select food items that offer carbohydrates along with maximum nutrition:
Rule of Thumb: Healthy carb foods will have high amounts of fiber, so check the labels to identify them.
Some Of The Worst Carbs
• Sugar – Table sugar, or refined white sugar, is a disaccharide known as sucrose. It is made from cane or beet root and offers no nutritional value. You should replace it with unrefined raw sugar or honey, these offer some vitamins, minerals and antioxidants; however, the number is still small, and use of sweeteners should be avoided as much as possible. Cupcakes, donuts and other such products contain staggeringly high sugar content and should be avoided. Substitutes, such as, artificial sweeteners or using pureed fruit and dried fruit in baking instead of refined sugar is a better option.
Opt for breads and pasta made from whole grains instead of the refined ones. Whole grains have a lower Glycemic Index (GI), which means that they are digested at a slower rate and won’t a cause a spike in the blood sugar.
However, don’t fall into the brown and white trap. Always check the ingredients and the food label for carb and fiber count; many manufacturers add coloring to fool people into buying bread that appears to have been made from whole grains, but, in reality, was not.
Best Whole Grains
• Whole wheat (can be purchased as flour for baking and bread making)
• Brown rice
• Wild Rice
• Whole grain pasta
• Whole-grain sorghum, barley (can be purchased as flour for baking and bread making)
• Buckwheat (can be purchased as flour for baking and bread making)
• Bulgur (can be purchased as flour for baking and bread making)
All vegetables are beneficial; vegetables with a higher amount of dietary fiber, such as, green leafy vegetables are considered to be better, but, compared to not eating vegetables at all, consumption of any vegetable will improve your health.
High Fiber Vegetables
• Brussels Sprouts
Avoid commercial fruit juices as they have a lot of added sugars, which, add empty calories. Eating a fruit or juicing at home is much better for optimum fitness. Similarly, replace candy with dried fruits, dried fruit is not as good fresh, but it’s better than candy. Raisins are loaded with sweetness along with many beneficial compounds.
High Fiber Fruits
• Raspberries – highest in fiber, but all berries are good.
• Canned pumpkin
Nuts and Legumes
Legumes and beans are high in proteins for the development of strong muscles and they have a lot of fiber, which, as previously mentioned, offsets the carb impact.
One great advantage of legumes and beans is that they are affordable and easily available. They can also be included in a number of recipes to create delicious meals for the whole family. Green peas are full of zinc that help fight against the cold germs.
They also contain Leptin that is a chemical substance that alerts the brain that you stomach has had its fill. Therefore including green peas in your meals will ensure you get fuller with a smaller portion for a lean and fit body.
• Navy Beans
• Pinto Beans
• Kidney Beans
• Black Beans
Nuts have a low carb impact because they are high in fiber and naturally low in sugar carbs.
What Is Tofu How To Cook With It
Tofu, also called ‘bean curd’ and ‘soybean curd’ has come to be synonymous with vegetarian food. With its invention presumed to be in China, over 2000 years ago Tofu is a replacement for meat and high calorie containing edibles. There exist three theories around the discovery of Tofu; one of which ties tofu to the Han dynasty ruler, Liu An.
However, there is contention with regard to this theory since tofu apparently featured in Chinese cuisine ever since the 2nd century BC.
The second theory opines that tofu was an accidental discovery, wherein slurry of boiled soy beans happened to come in contact with sea water, then considered impure, which led to its coagulation and into the jelly-like substance that is tofu.
The last theory maintains that the Chinese learnt the art of curdling soy milk by emulating the process of curdling milk by the Mongolians, thus, making tofu.
What is it made of?
It has high protein content, hardly any calories and high mineral content, including, Iron. Tofu is devoid of any animal protein.
Made from soy milk coagulation using certain salts or enzymes, tofu finds usage in savory and sweet dishes. It is made by coagulating pre-made soy milk or freshly prepared soy milk using coagulating agents like calcium sulphate or gypsum, magnesium chloride, calcium chloride or acid coagulant like glucono delta-lactone; or enzyme coagulant called papain. Like curdling of milk, soy milk also gets curdled and results into an almost jelly-like substance with high moisture content. There are broadly two kinds of tofu: silken or soft tofu and firm tofu.
Silken tofu is higher in moisture content. This happens because it is allowed to coagulate within its packaging; hence, it is able to retain its moisture. Firm tofu, however, is drained of it moisture before it is packed. It is placed between wooden blocks that squeeze the water out of it over a period of time. It can be white or a light shade of red, depending on the coagulant used.
Tofu has a very subtle to almost no taste, even if processed using enzymes. It has the ability to absorb the flavor of the spices and the vegetables it is cooked alongside.
What are the health benefits?
• Since it is predominantly devoid of high calories, it is advisable to people of all ages. Its high protein content balances the otherwise increased intake of animal protein which is also inclusive of fatty acids.
• About 10.7% in Firm tofu and 5.3% in silken tofu is made of protein, while only 5% and 2% fat, respectively. It is, therefore, helpful is reducing the level of bad cholesterol in our blood as well as contain the triglyceride concentrations. It does not however increase levels of the good cholesterol.
• It is also a great source for calcium and iron and omega-3 fatty acids.
Using Tofu in recipes
• Tofu is a very healthy source of protein to have in your meals and a great option for vegans and lactose intolerant people.
• A number of quick and easy healthy recipes can include tofu as alternative to poly-unsaturated fats, excess sodium and preservatives.
• Tofu can be used to make delicious rolls, sandwiches, kebabs and even soups.
• Crumble some fresh tofu into your salad for added proteins and a refreshing change.
• You can also add tofu to your smoothies with berries and greens for healthy morning protein rich drinks.
• Grill tofu slices with a choice of sauce for yummy appetizers.
• You can add it to noodles, pasta and even stir-fry them with seasonal vegetables for a nutritious change from the daily fare.
• Add crumbled tofu into extra lean hamburger meat, it allows you to eat less of the fatty meat, and it will make burgers and meat loaf much more moist.