Eat Healthy

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

There are many popular diets on the market today. This article will explain how to eat healthy for life and avoid the fad diets.

Determine how many calories your body needs to function each day.
This number can vary wildly, depending upon your metabolism and how physically active you are. If you're the kind of person who puts on 10 pounds just smelling a slice of pizza,then your daily caloric intake should stay around 2000 calories for men, and 1500 calories for women. Your body mass also plays a part in this: More calories are suitable for naturally bigger people, and fewer calories for smaller people. If you're the kind of person who can eat anything he or she wants without putting on a pound, or you're physically active, you may want to increase your daily caloric intake to 1000-2000 calories, a little less for women. Also consider that the more muscle mass you have, the more calories you need to function. The bad fats are saturated and trans fat, which you do not need any of in moderation. Someone on a 2000 calorie diet should consume less than 20 grams of saturated fat a day, and trans fat can and should be avoided all together. The good fats are plain fat, which you should eat about 30% of your calories in, and poly- and monounsaturated fats.

Don't fear fatty foods.
You need to consume fat from foods for your body to function correctly. However, it's important to choose the right kinds of fats: Most animal fats and some vegetable oils are high in calories and are high in the kind of fats that raise your LDL cholesterol levels; the bad cholesterol. Contrary to popular belief, eating cholesterol doesn't necessarily raise the amount of cholesterol in your body. If you give your body the right tools, it will flush excess cholesterol from your body. Those tools are monounsaturated fatty acids, which you should try to consume regularly. These are the good fats, and they help lower the bad cholesterol in your body by raising the good cholesterol. Foods that are high in monounsaturated fatty acids are olive oil, nuts, fish oil, and various seed oils. Adding these "good" fats to your weekly diet can lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease. Consider sautéing vegetables in small amounts of olive oil, and grabbing a hand full of mixed nuts for a snack instead of a candy bar. There are also various supplements that contain these good fats that you can take daily.

Carbohydrates are important.
You need to eat foods high in carbs since they are your body's main source of energy. The trick is to choose the right carbs. Simple carbs like sugar and processed flour are quickly absorbed by the body's digestive system. This causes a kind of carb overload, and your body releases huge amounts of insulin to combat the overload. Not only is the excess insulin bad on your heart, but it encourages weight gain. Insulin is the main hormone in your body responsible for fat storage. Eat plenty of carbs, but eat carbs that are slowly digested by the body like whole grain flour, hearty vegetables, oats, and unprocessed grains like brown rice. These kinds of food not only contain complex carbs that are slowly digested by the body, but are usually higher in vitamins and other nutrients that are beneficial to the body and they are higher in fiber which keeps your digestive system running smoothly.
Eat larger meals early in the day.
Your metabolism slows down towards the end of the evening and is less efficient at digesting foods. That means more of the energy stored in the food will be stored as fat and your body won't absorb as many nutrients from the meal. Many American families tend to have their big meal at dinner time. The problem with this is your day is basically over, and your body's need for energy isn't as great as it is early in the day. This large meal, late in the day, can also make you feel tired, and who wants to feel too tired to have fun now that the workday is over? Try eating a medium-sized meal for breakfast, a large meal for lunch, and a small meal for dinner. Better yet, try eating 4-6 small meals over the course of your day. That keeps your body fueled for the whole day without dumping a large amount of food into your stomach, which your body might have a hard time digesting.
Don't skip breakfast!
Many people do because they don't feel they need to eat breakfast, or they just don't feel hungry first thing in the morning. Research shows that people who skip breakfast are usually fatter than those who eat a well balanced breakfast. Although you might not feel hungry first thing in the morning, if you skip breakfast you will feel extra hungry come lunch time, making you more prone to overeating for your afternoon meal. In addition, skipping breakfast makes your body think that you are starving. After all, by lunch time, you may not have eaten in almost eighteen hours. For the rest of the day after you skip breakfast, your body will store up most of the energy you get from food, instead of allowing you to burn it, in anticipation of food scarcity. Not only will this cause you to be tired during the day when your body isn't using the food that you ate, but the extra energy stored up will result in weight gain.
Make eating fun.
Avoiding simple carbs and fatty foods doesn't need to be boring. Have fun not only with the food, but with the meal. Eating with family and friends makes the meal more satisfying than eating in front of the TV or in the car on the way home from work. You will also eat more slowly when enjoying your meal, which gives your body time to feel full before you burst a button. There are more creative cooking resources available to us than ever before. You can find great tasting recipes in magazines, books, and right here on the Internet. Eating baked fish three or four times a week can get boring, so do a little recipe hunting to find more exciting ways to prepare your meals.
Buy non-fat or reduced fat foods.
This is done not to avoid getting fat, because eating fat will not make you fat. And it's not about eating fewer calories. It's about control. Control over what kinds of fats you put in your body. For instance, olive oil has many health benefits, so buy non-fat or reduced fat salad dressing and add a table spoon of olive oil to the jar. You'll have a salad dressing that tastes great, and is also better for your health. So buy the non-fat foods so you can replace the missing fat with "good" fats. Remember, you do need to eat a moderate amount of fat each day. Fat is something that can be very deceiving. For example, if your trying to lose weight, you're going to look for food with low fat content. However,there are some foods that have good fats, these fats are like monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat. These fats add calories from fat, and so does trans fat and saturated fat, so they combine, which can be confusing. It's important to look at the saturated and trans fat content. If you see 20 calories from fat on the label, but 0g of trans fat and saturated fat, that means that there is polyunsaturated fat and/or monounsaturated fat. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat are good for you. They protect your heart and increase 'good' cholesterol. It's good to have enough good fats, but all good things have to come to an end.
Give yourself a cheat day.
Cheating doesn't mean pigging all day on all the wrong foods once a week, it means enjoying a food you really love once a week. Have a couple slices of greasy pizza on Sundays, or a big slice of double chocolate cake on Saturdays. This cheat day will help you stick to the change in diet, and in some ways it's actually good for your body. Special occasions, such as birthdays in the family, count as cheat days.
Avoid excess amounts of alcohol.
You know that heavy drinking is bad for your body, but it's also bad for your will power. A heavy night of drinking could send you to the fridge pigging out on all the wrong foods. However, many studies show that a beer or glass of wine a day is actually good for the body. Wine contains anti-oxidants which help fight illness and that moderate amount of alcohol can help you relax. Excess caffeine can also be bad for the body since caffeine stimulates your body into producing insulin in the same way that carbs do.


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