Posts Tagged ‘healthy eating’

What Does Diet Really Mean?

March 2nd, 2021

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “diet”? Did you immediately think of a restrictive eating regimen that deprives you of your favorite foods? I think most people look at “diet” that way, and because they see it as depriving, they consider diet a bad thing.

For most people, a diet is a tool for losing weight. And according to a survey spearheaded by the International Food and Information Council, 77 percent of Americans are trying to lose weight. But the sad truth is that most of them will fail to achieve sustaining weight loss if they approach their diets in the traditional way.

The better way to look at diet is in the context of overall nutrition. Nutrition is more than eating healthy food. It’s your total nourishment. And diet is more than an eating plan. It’s what you eat and drink every day, as well as the physical and emotional circumstances connected to eating.

Having a nutritious diet is more than eating good food to fill you up. It’s also getting enough nutrients to keep you healthy and full of energy to perform your daily activities at a high level. A side benefit of good nutrition is that you naturally get to and maintain a healthy body weight. (You get even better results when you add regular exercise!)

A critical feature of good nutrition and a healthy diet is variety. Eating a wide variety of foods helps ensure that you get the important vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients your body needs to function properly.

One recommendation is to keep your plate colorful with foods of a variety of hues. The pigments that produce the color in these foods are actually nutritious substances, and these substances can reduce your risk of cancer and chronic diseases, such as heart disease.

Fruits and vegetables are among the most colorful foods. They provide added protection by decreasing free radicals in the body. Free radicals are unstable molecules that damage cells, which as a result, can lead to the development of many diseases.

A nutritious diet includes plenty of fruits and vegetables. It also includes whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy products, and protein in the form of lean meats and seafood. A healthy diet doesn’t eliminate any group of foods, like some popular fad diets today, but instead concentrates on portion sizes.

For help with food choices and portion sizes, consult the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, developed by the US Department of Health and Human Services and the US Department of Agriculture. And don’t’ forget to balance your healthy eating with physical activity.

With a healthy, nutritious diet, you don’t have to deprive yourself of all the foods you love. But think about those foods before you eat them and decide which ones are really important to you.

Consider eating only the foods you absolutely love and avoiding the foods you find mediocre. That way, you can eliminate the foods you can really live without and replace them with healthier options such as fruits and vegetables.

By assessing your eating patterns, you can mindfully include foods you love that might be considered unhealthy. With careful planning, you can eat those foods but in a more controlled manner.

Now you know that diet is not a dirty word, and it’s possible to eat healthy and still have your favorite foods. Here are a few other tips to make eating a positive experience, courtesy of the University of Minnesota:

  • Start small. Pick one thing to change and focus on that until you get comfortable with it, then move on.
  • Acknowledge and honor your hunger. Pay attention to what your body wants. Allow yourself to feel hunger. It’s very satisfying to eat after experiencing hunger.
  • Get rid of distractions. Turn off the televisions, computers, and cells phones. Focus on your food.
  • Lose the “good” and “bad” labels. If you’re putting energy into taking better care of yourself, then you deserve treats, snacks, and junk food from time to time without judgment.
  • Eat with others. Share the pleasure of the food with others. You get valuable emotional support from family members and friends when you eat together.
  • Stop before you feel full. It takes your brain about 20 minutes before it gets the message that your belly is full. But there’s a point before that when your hunger is satiated. Keep in mind that a typical portion is more than you need.

Diets that restrict calories can do more harm than good. Often, people lose weight initially, but the weight loss is usually unsustainable. When they go off of the diet, they generally gain all of the weight back, and sometimes more.

Calorie-restrictive diets are not healthy for your body. You need to eat enough calories for your body to function properly. A nutritious, balanced diet gives you all the calories, vitamins, and nutrients you need. It also helps you, along with exercise, to lose and/or maintain weight by keeping your metabolism operating optimally.

So, eat well and enjoy!

Live Well, Feel Great!

March 9th, 2016

national nutrition month, eating healthy

Public Domain Image

We’re well into 2016, so how are you doing with your resolutions? Fear not! National Nutrition Month is here to give you a boost. All March long, we celebrate healthy eating, not just to lose weight, but to live well and reduce the risk of many chronic diseases.


The theme for 2016 is “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right.” The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, which created the annual celebration, chose this theme to encourage everyone to take time to enjoy food traditions and appreciate the pleasures, great flavors and social experiences food can add to our lives. We can do this while making informed decisions about what and how much we eat.


The word “diet” makes most people cringe because it is often associated with a way of eating that includes eliminating your favorite foods. But “diet” is a more general term, including everything you eat, when you eat it, how much you eat and how you prepare it. So when your doctor recommends a healthy diet, don’t freak out. It’s easier than you think. A few different food choices can make a big impact.


The President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition agrees. The Council says small changes can make a big difference to your health. They offer eight healthy eating goals and suggest you try incorporating at least six of them into your diet.1 These tips can help rejuvenate your New Year’s resolution to eat better – and maybe you’ll lose some weight in the process.


  1. Make half your plate fruits and vegetables – Choose a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. The more color on your plate, the better.
  2. Make half the grains you eat whole grains – Choose whole-wheat bread and pasta, quinoa, oats and brown rice for the best nutrition. Check the food label. The first ingredient should be “whole grain” or “whole wheat.”
  3. Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk – If you can’t hack lactose, try calcium-fortified soy beverages.
  4. Choose healthy protein sources such as lean meats and poultry, beans and peas, eggs, nuts and seeds.
  5. Compare sodium in foods and choose the lower sodium versions.
  6. Drink water instead of sugary drinks such as sweetened soda, energy drinks and sports drinks.
  7. Try adding some seafood to the menu – Seafood has protein, minerals and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
  8. Cut back on solid fats such as cakes, cookies and other desserts that contains butter, margarine or shortening, and processed fatty meats such as sausages and bacon.


Eating healthier is a good first step, but you can go even further if you add physical activity to your improved meal plan. We’ve all heard the recommendations: 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day. With the combination of a healthy diet and regular activity, you can not only lose or maintain weight, you also can reduce your risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer. Good deal!


Eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to give up everything you love to eat. If you make a few changes to your food choices, you can still do as the theme of National Nutrition Month 2016 suggests, “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right.”

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