health foods

Healthy, Balanced Diet Through Good Choices

Most of you have made a New Year’s resolution and chances are it has to do with living a healthier lifestyle. For some, that may mean exercise and for others, diets. Personally, I don’t like that word, because it has developed a negative connotation. Everyone has a diet. However you eat, that is a diet. But when someone says they are going on a diet, everyone usually associates that with heavy food restrictions, being hungry, and fighting food temptation. It has completely flipped health on its head and made us dread being better. So let’s change the language a bit and be more strategic. What we should all strive for is a healthy, balanced diet, which doesn’t have to be such an extreme lifestyle change.

Truth is, we all know how to be healthier, but we overthink it or doubt ourselves. Developing a healthy, balanced diet is about making smart decisions with food. It doesn’t have to be heavily regimented, even if some people think they need that. Even in myself, there is a frustrating resistance to change for the better despite the fact that it is so obvious. All the ingredients are there, so tangible and not even particularly hard. I’m not trying to trivialize anyone’s struggle with food, since everyone’s situation is different, but speaking generally, we all keep putting things like this off when it is as easy as just eating one thing over another, this more than that.

Of course, there are a lot of perceived nuances to what is healthy eating and what is not, given persistent changes in the science of nutrition and how it conflicts with what we thought we knew. For example, the food pyramid that hung in our school cafeterias growing up, by today’s standards is pretty wrong. The USDA has since improved on that with its MyPlate campaign, which provides a nice visual representation of what your food intake should look like. However, it does not provide enough of an explanation of the kinds of food included in each category. The Harvard School of Public Health developed its own plate, in response to flaws of the USDA’s MyPlate campaign, which is based wholly in research and provides greater detail.

MyPlate

USDA’s MyPlate


healthy eating

Harvard University School of Public Health’s Healthy Eating Plate


In my opinion, this is theperfect resource to get you started on that healthy, balanced diet. There is still so much there that you can enjoy eating. It doesn’t suck the joy out of those meals you look forward to every day, or hold you to some ridiculous standards. Changing takes time and the results will not be overnight, but if you stick to this in some reasonable way (moderation people) and perhaps add some exercise to the equation, you will feel much better both physically and psychologically.

Here, let me help you. Say you don’t have time to cook and there are three takeout menus in front of you. One for Burger Chateau, one for a Wok Inferno and another for Pure Pita. Now, all three options are craveable and delicious destinations to curb your hunger pangs, but you want to make a smart choice. So, given that red meat is high in saturated fats, which is unhealthy, lets take burgers out of the equation. Wok Inferno may have plenty of poultry and vegetable options but the killers are the rice and noodles, which are refined grains. Refined grains raise blood sugar and make weight difficult to control. Now if you have a Chinese food place like Low Fatt Chow, which serves brown rice (whole grain), things are looking up for you. I’m partial to Pure Pita given its variety of veggie and whole grain options.

Now, let’s say it’s date night and you’re significant other is in the mood for Italian, so you head on over to Roman Nose. You’re thinking, well if we’re getting Italian, I can’t escape the draw of pasta, looks like this is going to be a cheat day. On the contrary my friend, Roman Nose gives patrons the option of ordering whole grain or gluten free pasta, so while you’re whole meal may not be the healthiest thing you’ve eaten all week, at least you are not eating those refined grains, getting you one step closer to a healthier you.

And that’s how it starts people. All these little choices will add up and eventually you won’t even have to think about them.