Why is healthy eating so important?
Many people will see the title of this article and assume that first and foremost, healthy eating means weight loss.
However, this is not the case. While changing your eating habits can certainly help you lose weight, health and weight are not the same thing — otherwise, every thin person would automatically be healthy, no matter how much junk food they ate or how much they smoked!
In fact, eating for weight loss and eating healthily are different things, though they do overlap. Crucially, to lose weight, you need to keep track of how much you’re eating rather than what you’re eating. If you’re eating more than you can burn off, you will gain weight — and that’s true whether you’re eating chocolates or cucumbers.
In this blog post, we’re going to talk about what healthy eating really involves.
1. Variety is key!
If you ever see a diet that recommends abandoning an entire food group — such as no dairy or no red meat — be very careful. There is a reason why we eat a wide range of foods: our bodies need different things from each food group.
If you ditch all red meat, you’ll need to go somewhere else for your iron and protein; otherwise, you’ll end up with a deficiency, which means you’ll be even less healthy than before! Be even more careful when you read about a new “super food”; most of the time, this is just a marketing tactic.
Eating a lot of one thing or none of another thing will not magically make you healthy (unless you have a pre-existing condition, such as lactose intolerance).
One easy way to make sure you’re eating a varied diet is to look at the colours in your meals. If it’s all the same colour, you probably need to change something — particularly if that colour is beige.
2. Eat at least five fruits and/or vegetables a day
This is an oldie but a goodie: fruits and vegetables are extremely important for maintaining your health. They have critical vitamins and minerals that keep your immune system, eyes, and skin in good condition, as well as lots of fibre for your digestive system.
The best way to eat them is fresh, rather than as juices or smoothies; these often come with added sugar and less fibre, so they’re not as good for you. You can also use canned fruits, frozen vegetables, or dried fruit (though this also often comes with extra sugar!).
As mentioned above, you need to get a good variety of fruit and vegetables — try and eat different colours to get a range of different nutrients.
3. Healthy attitude, healthy eating
This is the last and most important thing to remember: mental health is just as important as physical health. Don’t get too caught up in analysing everything you eat or beat yourself up if you only had two fruits today.
Nobody can be perfect all the time, and you can bet that even people in peak physical condition have the occasional treat. Eating out or having a pudding is never the end of the world, as long as it’s infrequent.
Plus, if you allow yourself a treat every now and then instead of being unreasonably strict, you’re less likely to have an all-out binge when your will power finally runs out — so it’s better for you in the long run to give yourself some leeway.
When it comes down to it, the main benefit of eating healthily is that it’s good for you on the inside as well as the outside. If you’re getting all the nutrients you need, you’ll feel better, even if you don’t necessarily look different: when you take care of your body, your body takes care of you.