Healthy Eating Isn’t All About Physical Benefits

December 20, 2012 by  
Filed under All you need to know, Featured

The importance of eating healthily is known to us all. Without the right diet, it is hard to live the life we would all like to, keeping energy levels high and being able to do the things we enjoy. However, it is not all about the physical benefits of a healthy diet. Eating the right things can have a beneficial effect on your mental well-being too.

The truth is that mental health and physical health are interconnected. If you are eating too little, or too much of the wrong thing, then you are going to suffer mentally for it as well as physically. Your brain requires nourishment every bit as much as your body, and a lack of protein in your diet can result in the onset or aggravation of depression.

If you suffer from depression, then one of the main negative effects of the illness is a lack of energy, a situation which affects your ability to fight the condition. Eating the right things is important, and while often depression sufferers will feel that they do not want to eat at all it is important that they make the effort. Rather than eating “comfort food” – which is rarely very comforting – getting some fresh fruit and veg, as well as carbohydrates from pasta or potatoes can help.

Drinking plenty of fluid is also important for mental health. Ideally, five glasses or more of water a day will prevent you from becoming dehydrated and depriving your body and mind of the fuel that is so important. Having the energy and the sharpness to send the symptoms of depression packing is essential, and your diet will play a big part in this.

A Global Solution To The Healthy Eating Question

December 20, 2012 by  
Filed under All you need to know

Many people feel that the problem with healthy eating is simply that it is not interesting enough – while salads and vegetables are all well and good, there is little sparkle to them. And while this is a view that is easy to sympathise with, the honest truth is that there are plenty of interesting options if you know where to look. Sometimes all you need is something a little bit different.

Geography, weirdly, is something that has a bearing on typical diets. In many western countries, the climate is cold and rainy, and we are conditioned to eat heavier foods that are not so easily digested – we are expected to have a little more “meat on our bones”. And so conversely, trying cuisine from a hotter climate might be the key.

India, for example, is a country where the weather is invariably hot, and spice is a major ingredient in the cuisine of that country. Partly this is because it grows there and is easily affordable, and additionally spice in a diet makes it more readily digestible and doesn’t add fat. Good Indian food is a very worthwhile option in a healthy diet.

Of course, any food if eaten to excess will cause you to gain weight. But mixing up your diet to give it an international flavor will keep things interesting, give you a range of nutrients which will be good to your body and will get you thinking about food in a different way – which will be beneficial in the long run.

Eating Disorders – The Horrifying Truth

December 20, 2012 by  
Filed under All you need to know

Although it is generally accepted that the only truly reliable way to avoid weight gain is to eat healthily and exercise, the truth is that for many people, this seems like a hell of a grind. It takes a lot of effort, and it can be a while before you see substantial results from it – so taking a short cut becomes more attractive.

The most disturbing “alternative” to eating healthily is eating disorders. Most commonly, anorexia is chosen by people who feel that healthy eating still has too many calories involved. Although associated primarily with teenage girls and young women, anorexia is not limited to that section of society.

Bulimia, a disorder from the same family as anorexia, is becoming more and more common. Bulimia sufferers will eat where anorexics starve themselves, and will often binge to the point where they are uncomfortably full before inducing vomiting to ensure that food is not digested. While both anorexia and bulimia do allow sufferers to lose weight and keep it off, they carry very real dangers.

Although being slim is considered to be the glittering prize by many, it is at a price. If you are not eating the right nutrients, or are purging them through vomiting, it is impossible to keep clear, healthy skin and hair, and your energy levels will go through the floor. It is also unlikely that anorexics or bulimia sufferers will get to a point where they feel thin enough, and many can go to the point of killing themselves through malnutrition.

Can Food Be Healthy And Fast?

December 20, 2012 by  
Filed under Featured, Healthy Eating Tips

Fast food is, and will no doubt continue to be, one of the most secure industries in the world. The simple truth of the matter is that sometimes, we look for the quickest option when we are on the move. So it does not appear that fast food will disappear from the high street any time soon. From a healthy eating point of view, the question has to be whether we turn a blind eye to it or find healthy fast food. Does healthy fast food even exist, though?

Well, if fast food is a secure industry, then healthy eating is one that compares with it. While many of us need to eat on the move, there are certainly enough people around who don’t want to compromise on their healthy eating plan. There are options for healthy fast food, even if we tend not to define it as such.

The best fast and healthy option for many of us is a sandwich. Certainly, the number of sandwich chains around the country is testament to how much people enjoy a good sandwich, and the advantage is that sandwiches are readily customizable. Admittedly, not all sandwiches are healthy, but it is up to you how you have them. A chicken salad sandwich on wholemeal with no mayo is certainly healthier than a burger and fries – and the level of variation compared to burgers means that it is a choice that need not get boring. Most sandwich shops also do wraps, pasta salads and other variations too.

Why Do We Crave What Is Bad For Us?

December 20, 2012 by  
Filed under Healthy Eating Tips

The old cliché that if something is delicious it must be fattening has a lot to answer for. Take any list of favorite foods, and there is little doubt that the majority will be things that are bad for us. We instinctively crave foods that, on balance, are not the best option for us – they are unhealthy, lack nutrition and often they don’t really fill our stomachs very well – but we keep going back, for whatever reason. Why DO we crave foods that are bad for us?

There is no doubt that there is a certain charm to food that is not particularly healthy. That charm is not always in the way the food tastes. Sometimes it is a convenience thing – if you’re at a football game the chances are that the options for a snack do not include a healthy casserole, but will include burgers, hot dogs and various other foods that won’t do your waistline a lot of good. Sometimes it can be something as simple as the way a food smells – find someone who doesn’t enjoy the smell of fried onions and you may just have found alien life.

As often as not, we just crave the unhealthy food because it is simple. We’re used to it, we don’t need to sit down to eat it or pair it with just the right side dish. It’s easy and it tastes good. What we need to do is to get to the point where we find a healthy option to be just as hassle-free. For many people, the best option in this case is a sandwich – just as long as there is not too much butter on it, anyway!

Surprise Yourself By Taking Chances

December 20, 2012 by  
Filed under Healthy Eating Tips

How many times have you had the following conversation? You’re trying to persuade someone to do something, and they say “No, I don’t like that”. You ask them how many times they have actually done that thing and they eventually admit they never have, but still maintain that they know they wouldn’t like it. That is the way that many of us behave when it comes to food, and especially healthy food.

The bare fact about eating healthily is that it involves expanding your range a little. Many of us will bellyache about trying a new food because we like what we are used to. The things that we have eaten for years were new to us once too, and the issue is one of being set in our ways. If you try something new every once in a while, you can become better acquainted with variety, and pick the new things that you really like.

There is no point in banging your head against a brick wall trying to develop a taste for something you know you do not like. However, you’ll never know if you like something until you actually try it. This is particularly true of international cuisine. It may look different, but millions of people eat it regularly, so it can hardly be poisonous. Taking a leap of faith and trying a different food is not going to be the death of you, so why not try something different once a week and surprise yourself with how much you enjoy it?

Sometimes You Have To Think Small

December 20, 2012 by  
Filed under Healthy eating

Often getting a healthier diet is not just about what you are eating, but how much of it. For example, there is no real reason to stop eating foods like pasta or cheese – but a mound that fills the plate is always going to be unhealthy.

Many of us make the mistake of eating until it is uncomfortable to eat more. This is never going to work out well because we go on eating after we are satisfied and all of a sudden we have overloaded our digestive system. The digestive system is not like a muscle, that will get more powerful with every workout. We need enzymes to digest food, and when they are overworked it causes a deficiency.

In this respect, eating healthily can be as much a matter of making small changes as doing anything radical. Even a seemingly cosmetic change like using smaller plates can be helpful. We are conditioned to think that empty space on a plate is a bad thing. All that really matters is how we feel after eating. If after a meal you don’t feel hungry, then the meal has done its job.

In France, a country with less of an obesity problem with most, the diet is far from boring. The major difference between there and many English-speaking countries is that they eat less food at a sitting. The French do not eat until they can eat no more – rather they eat until they have eaten enough, and enjoy the food for its taste. In this respect, there is a lot we can learn from them.

Many Small Sacrifices = One Big Difference

December 20, 2012 by  
Filed under Featured, Healthy eating

Healthy eating is not something that necessarily follows an easy pattern. It would be great if we could simply flick a switch and change our habits to make our diet healthier, but as we have free will and free choice, we will always be tempted to do something that may hurt us long-term. This means that we are reluctant to make a huge change – what if it fails, and we have gone to so much effort for something to fall apart?

Instead of making one big change, there is a lot to be said for starting small and making several little changes that will be easier to maintain. Those smaller changes may seem to be nothing, but they add up. When you get up tomorrow morning and you have a choice between bacon and eggs and toast and cereal, think about what your body actually wants – there are more nutrients in the latter, and they won’t cause a mid-morning crash.

When you are offered “fries with that” if you go for a burger, say “no thanks” and enjoy a small treat that doesn’t cause you to feel like you’ve transgressed. When you are asked how you would like your eggs, don’t say “fried” or “I like mine with a kiss”. The latter is bad for you and the second isn’t funny. Try having them scrambled or poached – in all honesty there is more taste and less fat from having them this way. Small changes like this soon add up.

Knowing The Risks Of Restaurant Eating

December 20, 2012 by  
Filed under Healthy eating

Few of us can really say that we would not enjoy the chance to eat in a good restaurant more often, and there is no reason that we should turn our backs on restaurant eating once we go on a diet. However, the truth of the matter is that eating in a restaurant is not a risk because there are no healthy options or even that they are limited, but that we know so little about the healthy option.

When we take care of the cooking of food ourselves, we know exactly what is going into it and how it is being prepared. In a restaurant we leave it up to the chef. When you look over the menu in a restaurant, it is a good idea to have a healthy option or two in mind, and then ask the waiter when ordering how exactly the food is prepared.

Different restaurants will have different policies for how the food is cooked. Sauteed vegetables are usually healthy and delicious, but the difference between frying them in vegetable oil and fat is quite marked. Asking a few questions before committing to an order is never a bad idea, as long as you are polite and reasonable in doing so.

There may be some concern that the serving staff will lie to you or tell you what they think you want to hear in order to make you pipe down and order – but if you are reasonable and polite to them, they will be likely to reciprocate, and take on board your specifications on how you would like something to be cooked.

Beware The Demons In Disguise

December 20, 2012 by  
Filed under Healthy eating

If eating healthily was as easy as it should be, then the diet industry – books, DVDs, diet plans themselves and exercise equipment – would be in the doldrums. The fact that it is thriving to this day is a sign that, as much as we would like to think it, dieting is not easy or straightforward.

We like to think of pasta as being the healthy option – many of us will replace fries with a serving of pasta when we are trying to lose weight – but unless we are careful, we can end up gaining more weight for the addition of pasta to our diet. A lot of it comes down to what we eat with that pasta. In some cases it is a thick, creamy sauce or a salad dressing that contains a bunch of calories. And even plain pasta can be a weight gain nightmare if we don’t get the exercise to work off those carbs.

Very often it is not what we eat but how we cook it that is the issue. Many of us will, for example, quite enjoy a nice steak every once in a while – as long as the fat is trimmed. But how we cook it affects how good it is for us. If you are frying it in oil or butter, then it will become unhealthy very quickly. If, however, you grill it or sear it in a pan, there is certainly no harm to enjoying it.

One of the most enjoyable quick meals is a chicken breast with baby potatoes. Now, boiled potatoes can hardly be a diet destroyer, can they? Again, it depends what is done with them. If they are tipped out of the pan and have a mound of butter melted over them, they’re as much a risk as fries. If they are drizzled with a little olive oil, then they’re more than fine.

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