The Ancient Greek physician Hippocrates (460-370 BCE), often referred to as the Father of Medicine, said: “If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have the safest way to health.” In other words, a healthy lifestyle is prevention and is better than cure.
Nutrition is the study of nutrients in food and the relationship between diet, health, and disease. A healthy diet is all about putting the science of nutrition into practical action so that we nourish our bodies in the best possible way. I’d like to tell you about some insights and reading materials that have helped me to do this.
Quite simply because we want to be healthy and strong, and live a long, healthy life. Good nutrition is important from the earliest days of our lives, but it’s never too late to start focusing on it.
The problem with changing any part of your lifestyle is knowing what to change first. There are a few simple no-nos that experts have suggested are a good start.
Many diets involve cutting out the white foods: white flour, white rice, salt, sugar, dairy produce, potatoes. White flour is stripped of all nutrients and is high in calories, which means if it’s consumed in excess, it will result in added weight.
Too much salt causes the body to retain water, which increases weight and can lead to high blood pressure. Too much white sugar leads to weight gain, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Milk and dairy products are not too good for many adults. They can cause bloating and gas because the body doesn’t have the tools to process them. Yogurt is better.
As the Harvard School of Public Health explains, potatoes have a high glycemic load – in other words, they are high in a type of carbohydrate that is digested quickly and causes blood sugar and insulin to rise quickly, then dip. Potatoes can add weight if they are not eaten in moderation.
If you manage to reduce your consumption of all these ingredients, you will have gone a long way to decreasing the presence of junk and processed foods and beverages in your diet, meaning you’ll be living a healthier lifestyle.
It all begins with breakfast. A muesli of raw oatmeal flakes, raisin All Bran flakes, mixed nuts, and blueberries, topped with yogurt, gives energy for the day. Have it with a large mug of warm boiled water infused with 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, a teaspoon of clear honey, and a large dash of lemon juice, and you’ll be keeping the doctor away.
For lunch, consider having a balanced plate that contains enough protein and the right amount of carbohydrates and fat. Crackers and a little cheese, plus fruit and yogurt and some nuts, is one simple option that fits this bill.
For dinner, the experts tell us it’s advisable to eat raw food in the form of a vegetable-based salad: spinach, lettuce, cucumber, mushrooms, red onion, sweet peppers, broccoli, avocados, and root vegetables such as carrots. As dressing, olive oil and balsamic vinegar add further healthful vitamins. This salad can be accompanied by a small portion of sweet potatoes, brown rice or wholegrain pasta. To add protein, we can have fish, or a little meat. Eggs are also healthy in moderation.
For dessert, try fruit salads with a good variety of fruits, perhaps alongside frozen yogurt. Nuts can be added. Sugar can be replaced by natural honey.
We need to keep hydrated by drinking enough water (6-8 cups a day). To deal with that sweet craving, eat 3-5 dates, 5-6 grapes, or honey on a cracker.
Dietary guides tend to recommend not snacking between meals. However, if we have to, go for things like nuts, celery sticks, carrots, crackers, broccoli, apple slices, and kale chips.
We can keep our weight in good balance with our height by eating in a more mindful way. One technique that helps us become attuned to our body’s actual needs is to learn how to be comfortable with the feeling of being a bit hungry, which is a question of habit formation.
We don’t necessarily need three meals a day; perhaps two would be sufficient. Many people like to fast one day a week. We can experiment to find out what suits us personally. The caloric intake you need will depend on things that are unique to you, such as the particularities of your own metabolism and how many calories your daily routine burns.
A 4 oz. glass of wine has 100 calories. A 6 oz. glass of wine has 150 calories.
So be aware of your alcohol intake.
There are so many books on good nutrition. Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating (2017) contains everything you need to know. It suggests that dark chocolate can be used as dessert. This ought to be enough to persuade chocolate lovers to buy the book. Outline, the Science and Art of Longevity (2023) by Dr. Peter Attia is a New York Times #1 bestseller, and it is excellent.
There are a lot of different diets out there. What works for you? Where do you find information on healthy diets and eating habits? Are you aware of the nutrients your body needs?
Tags Healthy Eating
Eating organic Whole Foods and organic/grass fed/pastured lean proteins is my go to. I eat minimally packaged foods. I eat carbs in moderation. Sugar and junk foods are highly addictive and inflammatory to the body (I know because I’ve been there). I am 67 and am at a good weight, take no prescriptions and have no chronic health issues (so far). I take quite a few high quality supplements because our food is no longer chock full of vitamins, minerals or nutrients as they once were. My diet is a combination of the Dash and Mediterranean Diet but I do have my cheats like croissants and pizza. Lots of spices and herbs and fish 2-3 times per week and beef only 1-2 times per month. I have 2-3 meatless days per week. It works for me and I feel healthy.
I agree with the comment about potatoes. They have received so much bad press and presenting them as a food that may not be desirable can be misleading and add to further concern about their consumption. Although the statement is true, you need to be careful what you publish, as it may mislead your followers. I love Mayo Clinic and what they publish; however, I would, also, encourage you to, again, perhaps rely on publishing information from the nutrition experts in this country, the dietitians who are specifically trained in all areas of nutrition. Eatright.org is the website.
Contrary to popular belief, potatoes are not the enemy. They are very healthy foods, containing nutrients that are needed for our bodies. On the island of Crete, where some of the healthiest people on our planet live, and in our many other locations on our planet, they are a healthy part of the diet. Cauliflower and inner bananas are also white in colour. Eat a wide variety of fruits of vegetables and plenty of them. As for crackers, they often have excess salt, or other ingredients that contribute to the glycemic index. Not that they can’t be included in a healthy diet. The key is moderation.