Poor nutrition has been linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and many other diseases. We can reduce our risk by choosing well-balanced meals. Balance, moderation and variety are the keys to eating well to maintain a sound mind and body.
This is the age of fast foods and eating out - the obvious consequence of fast-paced life, extreme work pressure and long and erratic hours of work and travel. Home food has become a rarity, a great challenge but worth adopting nonetheless.
The first and, perhaps, the most difficult part of switching over to a balanced diet is to make up your mind to do it. Once you've accepted the challenge, start by making a plan. Planning is the first part of the program and the most decisive one since it sets the direction. Those who fail to plan invariably plan to fail. So, you must plan your meals at the beginning of the week. Make sure you include whole grain cereal, whole-wheat toast, fruit, low-fat yogurt, 100% juice, and skim milk for breakfast. In order to avoid the temptation to go to the fast food joint, pack your lunch the night before with leftovers from dinner, a veggie or tuna sandwich with low-fat mayo, fruit or soup. Have lots of ready-made salads, minus the dressing, for a quick and easy dinner. Keep the fridge full of vegetables with low fat dip for easy snacking for the kids.
To beat the strenuous work schedules, prepare meals that can be stored in the freezer such as casseroles and pasta dishes so that all you need to do during week days is to take a dish out of the freezer in the morning, and heat it when you come back from work. And, dinner is ready in 35-45 minutes without much effort.
Eating healthy should become a way of life. However, you will need an extra effort in the beginning, which basically means proper planning and strict discipline. Remember, old habits die hard and the effort you put in is to break old habits not to prepare healthy meals. You will need to overcome the temptation to drift back into the old routine. You might find it rigorous to prepare meals and grocery shopping may feel like a chore. But, if you are determined, you will start enjoying it within a few weeks. When you discard a bad habit and adopt a good habit, you will feel strong and more in control. And the results will be so encouraging that you will not need any other motivation to continue.
By providing healthy meals to your family you not only improve their health but also educate them about leading a healthy lifestyle. You become a good role model for your family that will go down from one generation to the next. This way you can correct the health problems inherited from parents and end the risk for your family's future generations.
The goal here is to enjoy nutritious and tasty foods. Remember, moderation is key so do not be too obsessed or restrictive as you may sabotage your success resulting in binge eating. Many of you can probably relate to forcing yourself not to eat a certain type of food such as a cookie, only to find a whole box devoured later. Have the cookie to prevent overeating down the road.
Planning your meals is very important. Make sure you include protein, whole grains, fresh fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. According to the RDA, your daily intake of carbohydrates should be 55-70%, fats 20-30% and proteins 15-20%. The World Health Organization suggests 40-50 grams of fiber daily. Basically, you should plan a varied diet because it is essential for good health. Concentrate on foods that are high in vitamins, essential fatty acids, antioxidants, unrefined carbohydrates, high fiber, low in sugar, low in fat, low in sodium, and limit alcohol consumption. Eating well and limiting your use of salt, sugar, caffeine, fats, can reduce stress and disease. American Cancer Society has stated that as much as 60% of cancer is related to diet.
By changing your eating habits you can live a healthy and less stressful life. All you need to do is to make a plan and stick to it. If you include your family in the process of planning, it will be easy to follow the plan. So, start eating well today in order to manage stress and reduce risk of disease. It will help you control weight and feel more energetic.