The word diet is often misunderstood. The Oxford Dictionary defines the word diet as:
"the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats".
With this in mind, one should think of a healthy diet not as a tool to lose weight, stay thin or avoid the food you love the most; rather, it should be thought of as feeling well after a meal and keeping a healthy lifestyle. After all, remember that you are what you eat!
FOOD TO ADD IN YOUR DIET
1 - Protein
- Good examples of protein are lentils and nuts such as almonds, walnuts and pistachios (beware of salted or sugary nuts and re-fried beans).
- More high quality protein are found in fresh fish, chicken or turkey, tofu and eggs . When you decide to have meat, chicken, or turkey, invest in 100% organic items (they should be free of hormones and antibiotics).
2 - Minerals
- Fill your meals with lots of vegetable such as green lettuce, tomatoes, broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes, yams, onions, and squash all packed with calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, and vitamins A, C, E, and K.
- Have a regular daily intake of fruit: apples provide fibers, any of the berry family are powerful antioxidants, oranges offer vitamin C, while bananas and mangos are good sources of potassium.
3 - Carbohydrates
- Whole grains and beans are an example of healthy carbs; other include brown rice, millet, quinoa, and barley.
4 - Monounsaturated fats
- They are from plant oils like canola oil, peanut oil, and olive oil, as well as avocados, nuts (like almonds, hazelnuts, and pecans), and seeds (such as pumpkin, sesame).
5 - Polyunsaturated fats
- These are very important to your diet and include Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. They are found in fatty fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and some cold water fish oil supplements.
- Other sources of polyunsaturated fats are unheated sunflower, corn, soybean, flaxseed oils, and walnuts.
FOOD TO REDUCE / AVOID
1 - Unhealthy carbs
- White flour, refined sugar, and white rice that have been stripped of all bran, fiber, and nutrients; they cause spikes in blood sugar levels and energy. Avoid, or limit, other types of refined foods such as breads, pastas, and breakfast cereals that are not whole grain.
2 - Sugary drinks
- Common drink such as soda, contain more sugars than the daily recommended limit
3 - Saturated fats
- Mainly found in whole milk dairy products and red meat.
4 - Trans fats
- They are found in vegetable shortenings, margarine, crackers, candies, cookies, snack foods, fried foods, baked goods, and other processed foods made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.
5 - Processed or Prepackaged foods
- Such as potato chips, nuts, and pretzels usually containing excessive salt that surpass the daily recommended limit. Try slowly reducing the salt in your diet to give your taste buds time to adjust
- Take the habit to read carefully food labels,
- Think of water as an important food to include in your daily diet,
- Consider exercise as the most important daily food. Find a physical activity that you love doing and it will slowly help you to maintain the diet you need to perform it at its best,
- Consult a qualified nutritionist should you be concerned about your tolerance to some food products.