Good Nutrition is the First Step to better Health and a Longer Life
Importance of a Healthy Diet
From fast food joints to aisles and aisles of junk foods, unhealthy foods seem to be everywhere. Even worse, many perceive these foods to be tastier than their healthy counterparts. This can make it difficult for people to make smart choices about food. Whether you're thinking about overhauling your diet or just need a bit more motivation to keep up your current efforts eat eating healthy, it's smart to keep focusing on the benefits of healthy diet. Remembering why you are eating healthy can make it easier to make better choices.
Basic Bodily Functions
Your body needs a variety of nutrients just to function normally. It needs calcium to build strong bones, protein to repair muscles and iron to make red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body. You get all of these nutrients by eating a wide variety of nutritious foods. Junk foods may be convenient, but they don't usually have necessary vitamins and minerals, and when you fill up on junk foods, you won't be able to eat the healthier foods. Even when you are smart about eating healthy foods, it's still a good idea to take a multivitamin daily to be sure your body is getting everything it needs.
Many common sicknesses can be prevented or reduced by eating nutritious foods. For example, a diet that doesn't incorporate a lot of fruits and vegetables can cause high cholesterol, which increases the risk of heart disease. According to the President's Council on Fitness, Sports, & Nutrition, poor diet also relates to high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and some types of cancer. (http://www.fitness.gov/eat-healthy/why-is-it-important/) While good nutrition isn't a cure-all for disease, it's an excellent place to start. Simply replacing some foods with better choices is a step in the right direction. For example, you might choose brown rice instead of white or have a small salad as a side dish with your sandwich instead of chips.
Eating healthy foods can also give you more energy and help you think even more clearly. Many people don't even realize they're living in a fog until they make changes in their eating habits. You might start by eliminating refined sugars from your diet for a short period of time and make note of the changes. Some people are surprised to find that having a green smoothie in the morning gives them even more energy than their coffee used to.
Maintaining a Healthy Weight
While it's true that it's possible to be healthy and overweight, or unhealthy at a "normal" weight, focusing on eating healthy foods can help prevent the weight fluctuations that occur with making poor food choices. Though weight loss and gain is not an exact science, it's definitely true that junk foods often have a higher calorie count per volume, which usually causes people to gain weight. On the other hand, healthy foods like fruits and vegetables have fewer calories. This means that a person can easily feel up on a low-calorie food like broccoli for few calories. Anyone who wants to reduce calorie intake without feeling hungry will find that focusing on fruits and vegetables can get the job done. In many cases, weight loss occurs naturally when someone eliminates junk foods from their diet.
Setting Good Examples
When kids come into play, it becomes even more important to eat healthy foods. While everyone jokes about children only eating macaroni and cheese, pizza and hot dogs, this is detrimental to their health. Many young children are already struggling with obesity, and some of the types of health problems that are more typically found in adults are starting to show up in younger children. Whether you have children of your own or you are a beloved friend or relative, eating healthy foods sets a good example for the kids you love. Show them how much you love to eat healthy foods, and try preparing them in different ways. These can both help kids to try out new foods.
Eating healthier foods is often a learning process. Someone who goes "cold turkey" or tries to follow an eating plan that forbids certain foods may find themselves reverting back to bad habits when they feel deprived. In most cases, it's best to incorporate small changes and to try to make healthy choices most of the time. It's OK to have cake or pizza sometimes, but balance it out with salads, smoothies and foods made from whole grains.