You are what you eat. This statement is even truer today as it was the first time you heard it according to many dieticians and nutritionists. Combining exercise with a healthy diet has been the golden rule for those who want to live longer, and stay more active in their golden years. But many people do not understand precisely what a healthy diet is.
A Healthy diet is a well-rounded diet, full of nutrition from whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. Every healthy eating pyramid that you see will have these food choices as the base, meaning you should be eating them the most. Red meats, sugars, and carbs are usually at the very top, suggesting you should eat them much less frequently. So in the extreme, think of a salad with lentils as your best friend and a hamburger with a soda as a distant acquaintance you may only see once or twice a month.
Do not buy into the myth that eating healthy has to be complicated or expensive. An excellent way to start thinking about the right foods to eat is to consume food in its most natural form. As foods get processed, many essential vitamins and nutrients are lost. For example, eating a salad made up of leafy greens and several other vegetables is much healthier for you than drinking green juice, just as eating a piece of fruit is much better than drinking fruit juice.
When the dietician tells you to cut out carbs, they are not talking about the ones that come from vegetables or fruit. Those carbohydrates are your body’s primary sources of energy. They want you to cut out the refined carbs and sugars that have been stripped of nutrients, bran, and fiber. Refined carbs and sugars that are found in things like pastries, white bread, and sodas need to eliminate for many healthy reasons besides preventing blood sugar spikes.
So cutting out the carbs is step number one and step number two is to increase your intake of fiber. According to Elisabetta Politi, a registered dietitian at Duke University, the average American is only consuming about half the amount of fiber we need each day. A couple of easy swaps can increase your fiber intake dramatically. For example, swapping a half cup of lentils for a half cup of pasta changes your fiber intake from 1 gram to 8 grams. Another choice is popcorn instead of potato chips, one serving swap here quadruples your grams of fiber. Just make sure the popcorn is cooked only on the stove with some plant-based oil to make it as healthy as possible.