What’s a healthy diet?
So, a healthy diet … that’s, like, salad and stuff isn’t it? And it doesn’t taste of anything, and no-one actually likes eating it because it’s really, really boring, right? Spare us, please, and pass the snacks.
If that’s your opinion, then read on! There’s good news on the way. The fact is, a healthy diet doesn’t have to be boring, and it certainly doesn’t have to be tasteless – far from it. And yes, snacks can still be fine. But keeping your diet healthy and balanced does take a little bit of thought, and could mean changing some of your current habits. So why should you bother?
- It’s healthier. The clue’s in the name! A healthy diet is exactly that – one which will keep you healthier for longer. It makes sense that what you put into your body really affects how your body functions. So give it quality fuel, and get quality performance.
- It will help with weight control. Eating well will help to maintain your weight at a sensible, healthy level much more effectively than getting into the cycle of repeated dieting and subsequent weight gain.
- Increase your energy levels. As you start changing your diet to become more healthy, the likelihood is that you’ll also start finding yourself with much more energy. Whilst eating a lot of processed or high-fat food can leave you feeling sluggish or bloated, eating a more balanced diet will leave you raring to go. Take up a sport or head to the gym, and use all that energy productively!
- Feel good, look good. Eating well, exercising and keeping your body in tip-top condition will not just make you feel better, but you’ll look better too.
So far, so good. But what is a healthy, balanced diet?
Eating a lot of fruit and veg is a great start, but you’ll be pleased to know that a healthy diet isn’t all salads and cabbage! It’s really important to eat a whole range of foods, it’s just a question of keeping the different types of foods all in balance.
Starchy foods (like wholegrain bread, pasta, potatoes or rice) should make up the basis of most of your meals, along with plenty of fruit and vegetables. Aim for around 1/3 of your total food intake to be starchy, and this will help you to feel full for longer. Protein is also important, in smaller quantities – both dairy protein (milk and cheese) and non-dairy (meat, fish, beans and eggs). Finally, small quantities of fats and sugar do need to make up a part of your diet – but most people eat far more of these than they need to! A lot of fat and sugar comes into the diet from snack foods – so why not swap the mid-morning biscuits for a piece of fruit? Also, make sure you drink plenty of water – 6-8 glasses a day. If you aren’t drinking enough liquids, this will soon show in your skin and your eyes – both are sure giveaways if you’re dehydrated or over-tired.
Healthy eating isn’t going to turn you into a supermodel overnight, but you’ll soon notice that you’re not only feeling better, but looking better as well. Eating plenty of vegetables and keeping well-hydrated will very rapidly improve your skin tone, as well as giving that indescribable ‘inner glow’ which comes only from good health. The vitamin C you’ll be taking in through your increased levels of fresh fruit and vegetables will be hard at work, boosting your immune system and helping you to form collagen – a vital part of keeping your skin in good condition, and fighting the appearance of wrinkles. The B vitamins are all beneficial to your hair, helping to make it strong, thick and shiny. Dairy products are a great source of calcium – essential for strong bones, nails and teeth – whilst seafood is a good source of the essential fatty acids which play an important role in brain function and development. They may even help to fight off heart disease.
For many people, looking good is all about what you do on the outside – the clothes you wear or the make-up you put on. But that will only take you so far. For real and lasting beauty, you need to also think about what you put into your body – keeping yourself healthy and keeping yourself beautiful go hand in hand.