Tuesday, January 15, 2008

9 tips for healthy eating

Eat a variety of nutrient-rich foods. You need more than 40 different nutrients for good health, and no single food supplies them all. Your daily food selection should include bread and other whole-grain products; fruits; vegetables; dairy products; and meat, poultry, fish and other protein foods.

Maintain a healthy weight. Excess body fat increases your chances for high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, some types of cancer and other illnesses. But being too thin can increase your risk for osteoporosis, menstrual irregularities and other health problems. Regular exercise is also important to maintaining a healthy weight.

Eat moderate portions. If you keep portion sizes reasonable, it's easier to eat the foods you want and stay healthy.

Eat regular meals. Skipping meals can lead to out-of-control hunger, often resulting in overeating. When you're very hungry, it's also tempting to forget about good nutrition. Snacking between meals can help curb hunger, but don't eat so much that your snack becomes an entire meal.

Reduce, don't eliminate certain foods. Most people eat for pleasure as well as nutrition. If your favorite foods are high in fat, salt or sugar, the key is moderating how much of these foods you eat and how often you eat them. Identify major sources of these ingredients in your diet and make changes, if necessary.

Balance your food choices over time. Not every food has to be "perfect." When eating a food high in fat, salt or sugar, select other foods that are low in these ingredients. If you miss out on any food group one day, make up for it the next. Your food choices over several days should fit together into a healthy pattern.

Know your diet pitfalls. To improve your eating habits, you first have to know what's wrong with them. Write down everything you eat for three days. Then check your list.

Make changes gradually. Just as there are no "superfoods" or easy answers to a healthy diet, don't expect to totally revamp your eating habits overnight. Changing too much, too fast can get in the way of success. Begin to remedy excesses or deficiencies with modest changes.

Remember, foods are not good or bad. Select foods based on your total eating patterns, not whether any individual food is "good" or "bad." Don't feel guilty if you love foods.

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