Unhealthy eating is probably one of the more challenging lifestyle habits to change when talking about health. One contributing factor is that early food exposures teach our bodies to recognize certain tastes and textures as desirable. Eating broccoli as a kid begets broccoli for brunch as an adult, and those sugary treats we enjoyed as toddlers often lead to a sweet tooth down the road. Adopting a healthy diet is, of course, not only good for children. As adults, continuing on a healthy path or switching to healthier options protects us from chronic health conditions such as heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Healthier foods are loaded with vitamins and antioxidants which strengthen our immune systems and help us avoid the unhealthy fats, sugars and salts that prevent us from living longer, healthier lives.
Eating for Good Health
A healthy diet in a nutshell
There is strong consensus among health organizations about what healthy eating looks like. It has three main characteristics:
· The right food groups
· Proper portions
The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 encourages individuals to follow a “healthy eating pattern” in all stages of life by reducing intake of calories from sugary treats, saturated fats, sodium and alcohol, while focusing on variety and limiting portion size to what fits on an 8- to 9-inch plate. They recommend the consumption of vegetables of all types and colors, fruits (ideally whole/raw), whole grains (e.g. oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa), low-fat dairy (e.g. low-fat milk, yogurt), and a variety of proteins (e.g. legumes, lean meats, eggs, nuts/seeds).
Both the American Heart Association and the World Health Organization also endorse prioritizing the intake of vegetables, legumes, fruits and whole grains. They advise consuming skinless chicken and fish while limiting the intake of red meats, sweet treats, sweet drinks and any processed foods, which are known to contain an excessive amount of salt, sugar and saturated fats. Basically, if it comes in a package and doesn’t look like what your great-grandmother ate, you probably want to avoid it. For more detailed information, please feel free to check out the “Four Pillars” section of our website at www.dailyappleclinic.com.
Creating a “greener” lifestyle
So, it may be time to put the ‘garden’ back in your girdle. You can cultivate a garden plot or develop a deep, new friendship with the produce section at your favorite grocery (or both). You can even grow edibles on your lanai or porch. If you already have a garden, you can pat yourself on the back as an official member of the health harvest team. You can show your pride by planting extra and sharing your tomatoes, onions, carrots, artichokes, cucumbers, spinach, squash, radishes, and garlic with neighbors near and far.
Then, experiment as you add more vegetables to your culinary repertoire - think about new and different types of veggies you could grow on your farm. You might just retrain your taste buds to enjoy some amazing new flavors and crave healthier choices. As social gatherings are all the rage again, why not look for interesting recipes online, invite friends over and become a chef for an evening? Your family and neighbors will love you for it, and you can enjoy your new healthy creations together!
Wishing you a great gatherings and great food!
Be well and take good care.