What does it mean to eat healthy food? What even is healthy food?
When it comes to living a healthier life it can be hard to know where to start. Is gluten bad? Is dairy bad? Is Diet Coke better than regular coke? Do you only eat salad?
Our goal at Lifesum has always been to make living a healthy life easier, and thankfully, healthy eating is simpler than we often make it.
Here are a few guidelines for what to look for when you’re trying to eat healthy:
Foods with added sugar, foods with fat removed, foods with added antioxidants, fortified foods, modified foods, processed foods – eat as little of these as possible. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you’re restricted to vegetables; you’re fine to eat meat, fish and animal by products; again just make sure that they’re as close to their natural state as possible – free of additives and preservatives and not messed with genetically.
The best way to do this is to do your best to buy organic, GMO-free food, and when buying processed or packaged foods, like rice, or sauces, stick to foods with short ingredient lists and ingredients you know and recognize – I.e. if there are numbers rather than letters, words that end in -zine or -tone, or ambiguous things like ‘chicken flavoring’, skip it.
Healthy meals need to cover all three macronutrients (fat, carbs and protein) in the right ratio. We tend to eat carb-dominated diets, just think about the standard fast food meal: burger bun (carb), burger (protein, fat), lettuce, onion and tomato (carb), fries (carb, fat); but in reality the ratio should be a little different.
According to the USDA, a healthy adult diet should be between 45%-65% carbs, 10%-35% fat, and 20%-35% protein. Naturally this also varies according to body type, and some people have a lower tolerance for carbs, but it’s healthiest to let protein and fat make up at least 50% of your diet, and let carbs make up 50% or less.
Try to think about this with every meal. Do your best to have a plate that’s well distributed, with no singular nutrient type dominating.
There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Too much protein can lead to weight gain, constipation and dehydration. Too many vegetables and too much fiber can lead to bloating and abdominal pain. And too much alcohol can lead to you developing serious health issues like high blood pressure, cancers and strokes.
Go easy on everything and make sure to have variety in your diet. If you’re worried about your portion sizes, always start with less than you think , and if you’re hungry afterwards, fill up on the healthier, lighter things.
Sugar messes with you big time. It leads to drastic blood sugar levels which in turn lead to energy dips and mood swings. Beyond that, excess sugar consumption can cause insomnia, increased food cravings, a weakened immune system and lower quality sleep.
Salt isn’t great either. Too much of it can lead to strokes, heart failure, osteoporosis, and high blood pressure.
When it comes to these too, less is more. Try to eat no more than 1,500 mg of sodium a day, and no more than 25g of sugar (for women) or 38g of sugar (for men).
Don’t forget – salt and sugar aren’t only present in what you add them to. Ketchup for example, contains sugar and salt, sodas (and their diet varieties which don’t contain sugar but contain fructose syrup or other things) and store-bought pasta sauces and salad dressings usually have sugar added to them. Make sure to read labels, and don’t just check the nutrient breakdown, look at the ingredients too.
Any other tips you’ve heard for healthy eating? Check out the Lifesum app for other ways in which you can make your lifestyle healthier.
Be a healthier you!Sign up for Lifesum