Everyone is aware that they should eat more healthily. So, why are they having such a hard time doing it?
Most people can recite the recipe for healthy eating: more fruits and vegetables, less red meat and processed meals. It appears to be quite straightforward. Nonetheless, Americans continue to struggle to maintain a healthy diet.
The top cause of mortality continues to be heart disease, while obesity rates have increased from 30.5 percent in 2000 to 42.4 percent in 2018. Adopting a healthy diet can help with both of these issues. Only about 22% of Americans follow the American Heart Association's dietary guidelines.
Therefore, if we understand how to eat healthfully, why isn't everyone doing it? Part of the problem stems from people's erroneous assumptions. Many people continue to believe that healthy food is excessively restricted – low fat, low calorie, low sugar. Then there's the impression that healthy foods are too expensive and complicated to prepare.
The underlying message is that good eating requires too much effort and that nutritious food is unappealing, "explains Teresa Fung, an adjunct professor of nutrition at Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Making the necessary changes
How can you dispel these misconceptions about healthy eating? To begin, assess your current food habits. For a week, keep track of what you eat at each meal and snack, including the quantity and timing. "An honest assessment can provide a clear picture of where you need to improve," Fung explains. Following that, make some minor adjustments to help close gaps and broaden your present healthy eating habits. The following are some suggestions:
Avoid being excessively ambitious. You do not have to make numerous big dietary adjustments concurrently to benefit from them. For three to four weeks, alter one aspect of your diet, Fung advises. "Once it becomes a regular part of your diet, go on to another area and repeat." For example, if you drink soda three or four times a week, reduce your intake to twice a week and replace it with a blend of seltzer water and juice on the remaining days. Eventually, limit soda consumption to once a week and finally eliminate it entirely.
Consider dedicating a day to vegetarianism. Once a week, spend the full day as a vegetarian, eating only fruits, vegetables, and whole grains (with the occasional serving of low-fat dairy or eggs), and avoiding processed foods. Fung explains that "this can assist you in recognizing the types and quantities of foods you should consume without feeling compelled to do so constantly." You might be surprised to find those vegetarian selections are more appealing than you anticipated. Increase it to twice a week, or even more frequently, if you get more comfortable.
Develop positive behavior. For example, if you already consume a daily portion of whole grains, you can incorporate another one into an everyday meal by swapping something less beneficial for it. This makes selecting nutritious foods feel more natural and less like hard work.
Prepare for something new. If dealing with recipes, ingredients, and cooking is intimidating, try making one new meal per week to help make dinner preparation less intimidating. "There are numerous simple, healthy recipes available on the Internet," Fung explains. Choose something that incorporates items you enjoy and involves a few steps or minimum cooking skills.
Enlist the assistance of your friends and relatives. Everyone has a favourite food, so solicit recommendations from others. "This can alleviate boredom associated with consuming the same types of meals."
Experiment with new cuisine. At your next grocery store visit, purchase something you rarely, if ever, eat. When dining out, order a dish created with new food for you. Additionally, explore more international meals, such as Greek and Indian. "The more you try, the more you can broaden your palate and expose yourself to healthy meals," Fung explains.
Additionally, keep an adventurous spirit when it comes to healthy food. "Healthy eating is not a one-day endeavour," Fung explains. Make it a pleasurable part of your life by being willing to experiment with different foods, ingredients, and meals, all of which may help make healthy eating enjoyable.