Are you eating healthy? A healthy diet is all about smart eating habits. It is a vital component of a healthy lifestyle. Sadly, most of us possess the habit of gorging on unhealthy foods like processed snacks, aerated drinks, sodas and fried foods. The consequences on our health are visible in the form of a weak immune system and increased likelihood of several diseases. This is primarily due to the fact that we are unable to fulfill the nutritional requirements of our body. Vitamins, minerals and antioxidants help maintain one’s overall health and protect against disease-causing organisms. Deficiencies of these nutrients can adversely affect our health. This further emphasizes the importance of a healthy diet.
A healthy diet, as the name suggests, is the kind of diet that helps maintain overall health by providing the essential nutrition needed by your body. This nutrition comprises of fluids, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids from protein and adequate calories. This requirement can be fulfilled by incorporating both plant-based and animal-based foods. It fulfils your energy needs and nutritional requirements without causing toxicity or excessive weight gain. It also helps in lowering health risks like obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and cancer. A healthy diet incorporates the following food items.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains like whole-wheat pasta, brown bread etc.
- Fat-free or low fat milk or dairy products
- Lean meats, fish, beans, poultry, eggs and nuts
- Foods that are low in trans-fat, saturated fats, sodium and processed sugars
- Fluids like fruit juices and water
Besides incorporating these food items in your diet, it is important to watch your portion size. Excess consumption of any of these can cause harm rather than benefit. The table given below will provide a rough view of the portion size of various foods that you are required to consume as a part of your diet.
|Your portion size|
|Carbs like cereal/rice/pasta/potato||Yourclenched fist|
|Proteins like meat/poultry/fish||Palm of yourhand|
|Savouries like popcorn/crisps||2 of your cupped hands|
|Bakes like brownies/flapjacks||2 of your fingers|
|Butter & spreads||The tip of your thumb|
Healthy Diet Tips to Lose Weight & for General Well Being
Healthy Diet Chart:
A healthy diet chart should comprise of all the food items that together form a balanced diet. In other words, it should fulfill your entire nutritional requirements for the day. Given below is one such diet chart that incorporates all the healthy food items.
|Breakfast||Protein comprising of eggs, salmon or low fat dairy|
|Mid –morning Snack||Oatcake with peanut or almond nut butter and a banana, a dip with veggie sticks.|
|Lunch||Whole grain toast topped with baked beans, or sandwich topped with salmon or chicken, low fat dairy, salad|
|Mid-afternoon Snack||A handful of almonds or walnuts, dried apple rings or nibbles like cherry tomatoes and grapes|
|Dinner||Vegetable salad drizzled with flaxseed or rapeseed oil; meat, fish or beans with brown rice, wholemeal pasta or quinoa|
Diet for Weight Loss:
Obesity is a common problem these days and the sufferers are often willing to go to any extent to shed those extra pounds. In fact, a variety of fad diets and crash diets have been devised which promise the quickest possible weight loss. These diets are not everyone’s cup of tea. Moreover, most of the weight lost is water weight which is quickly regained. In the long run, they can also lead to nutritional deficiencies. A balanced diet and not starvation is the key to weight loss or rather maintenance of healthy weight.
A balanced diet helps prevent unnecessary weight gain and aids in maintaining the ideal body weight. If you wish to lose weight, you need to cut down on your consumption of calories. For instance, if you are aiming to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week, you should reduce your daily intake of calories by 500 to 1000 calories. Yet calories are an important source of energy and very low calorie diets of less than 800 calories per day should not be resorted to unless properly monitored by your physician.
Besides consuming fewer calories, you need to burn more calories. Consumption of proteins rather than carbs enables you to burn more calories. Incorporate more protein in your diet! These foods will improve your metabolism and keep you full for longer. This ensures that you eat fewer calories for the rest of the day. Another way to cut down your calories is to incorporate lower calorie substitutes for certain foods. For instance, you can replace whole milk, butter and full fat cheese with non-fat milk, light cream cheese and peanut butter. In addition to these, it is advisable to drink plenty of water and eat smaller portions. This should be coupled with regular exercise.
Diet for Pregnancy:
Pregnancy is an important phase of a woman’s life which requires extra care. More nutrition is required during pregnancy to fulfill the needs of both the mother and the unborn child. Pregnancy also requires you to consume extra calories. The following steps should be followed for a healthy pregnancy.
1. It is advisable to eat a variety of foods during pregnancy to fulfill all the nutritional requirements. Ensure to have at least 6 to 11 servings of breads and grains, 2 to 4 servings of fruits, 4 servings of dairy products and 3 servings of lean protein like poultry, eggs, meat and fish.
2. Pregnant ladies are recommended to take 1000-1300 mg of calcium in their daily diet. This mineral helps in the baby’s teeth and bone formation. Ensure to have enough dairy products and calcium-rich foods during pregnancy. Vitamin D is equally important as it enables your body to absorb calcium.
3. High fiber foods like wholegrain breads, pasta, rice, cereals, fruits and vegetables should be consumed.
4. At least one good source of Vitamin C should be incorporated in the daily diet as pregnant women need 70 mg of Vitamin C in a day. Sources of Vitamin C include oranges, strawberries, broccoli, papaya, cauliflower, green peppers, tomatoes, Brussel sprouts and mustard greens.
5. Vitamin A is equally important. At least one source of Vitamin A should form part of the diet. Important sources of Vitamin A are pumpkins, carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes, turnip greens, beet greens, cantaloupes and apricots.
6. The recommended daily requirement of iron is 27 mg during pregnancy. It is advisable to have at least 3 servings of iron-rich foods in a day. This mineral is required for the baby’s blood as well as for maintaining the mother’s iron levels.
7. Folic acid reduces the risk of congenital neural tube defects in the baby. Pregnant women are recommended to take at least 0.4 mg of folic acid in a day. Sources of folic acid include dark green leafy vegetables and legumes like lima beans, black eyed peas, chickpeas and black beans.
8. Apart from these nutrients, pregnant women are required to consume 300 to 500 more calories than they did before pregnancy.
Diet for Healthy Skin:
Adequate intake of vital nutrients acts as a key factor in providing you with healthy skin. Cosmetics are meant to beautify your skin from the outside but as far as the inner health of your skin is concerned, it depends a lot on what you put inside your body. Nutritional deficiencies often lead to dull skin as well as increase the risk of skin problems. A balanced diet, again, is important to get healthy, glowing skin. Given below are a few food items that can do wonders for your skin and should form part of your diet.
1. Dairy Products:
Vitamin A plays an important role in maintaining the health of the skin cells. Low fat dairy products are important sources of Vitamin A. Often people have problems where their bodies can’t convert the beta carotene to Vitamin A. Dairy products are particularly beneficial for them as they contain true Vitamin A. Besides, certain dairy products like low fat yogurt also contain acidophilus, the live bacteria that is beneficial for intestinal health. By promoting normal digestion, it contributes to healthy-looking skin.
These delicious nuts are loaded with Vitamin E which is an antioxidant and a potent sun-blocker. It helps to protect the skin cells from harmful UV rays and other environmental factors that generate the damaging free radicals. Munch a handful of almonds to make your skin healthier!
3. Green Tea:
This beverage is excellent for your skin. It possesses anti-inflammatory properties and helps protect the cell membranes of your skin. Both oral intake and topical application of green tea can reduce the risk of skin damage from ultraviolet rays as well as skin cancer.
Berries like strawberries, blueberries and blackberries have the highest content of antioxidants. Strawberries have a higher content of Vitamin C than oranges and grapefruit. This vitamin is a powerful antioxidant that fights free radicals which damage your skin cells and break down collagen, causing fine lines and wrinkles. Consumption and application of a berry mask once or twice a week leaves your skin smoother and more hydrated.
Though it is not counted as food, water plays a crucial role in maintaining your skin health. It flushes out toxins from your system, transports nutrients to your cells and enables proper functioning of your organs. It makes your skin firmer and clearer by keeping your skin cells plump and full. Drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated. Fruits and vegetables also contain more than 75% water; their consumption too should be increased to get adequate intake of water.
Healthy Diet Recipes:
With increased health consciousness, several recipes have started using healthy ingredients to provide adequate nutrition. Along with the above healthy diet tips, you should also include these healthy meals. Given below are both vegetarian and non-vegetarian recipes which can be included in your meals.
Oats soup is the best way of incorporating oats in your diet in combination with other healthy ingredients. This healthy meal can be enjoyed with a slice of bread and is beneficial for people of all ages.
- 1 cup oats
- 1 finely chopped green chilly
- ½ finely chopped onion
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons oil
- Salt to taste
- Cilantro for garnish
Heat some oil in a pan and sauté garlic, green chilli and onions till they start sweating. Add the oats and fry them for about 2 minutes. Adding salt and water, bring the mixture to a boil. Now add pepper powder and milk to it and allow it to boil. Your rich and creamy oats soup is ready. Garnish it with cilantro and green onions, and serve piping hot with a slice of bread. For variation in taste and nutrition, you can add finely chopped vegetables like carrots and green peas. You can also make it more flavorful by adding garam masala and cumin powder.
– Lemon Pepper Chicken
This recipe is a perfect example of preparing chicken in a healthy way without compromising on its taste. If you are a vegetarian, you can replace the chicken with drumsticks.
- 2 chicken breasts
- 2 lemons
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
- ¼ tablespoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
- 1 teaspoon oil
- Salt to taste
- Cilantro to taste
Scrap the zest of both the lemons and place it in a bowl. Make a paste by combining ginger-garlic paste, turmeric powder, freshly ground pepper powder, finely chopped cilantro, lemon juice, salt and some oil. Making slits in the chicken, marinate it with this paste for at least half an hour in the refrigerator. Covering this chicken with aluminum foil, place it in a baking dish and bake it at 350 degrees F for half an hour. Uncover the dish and transfer the chicken to a new tray. Bake it for another 10 to 15 minutes, turning the sides after every 10 minutes such that all the sides turn crisp uniformly. Now place it on a serving plate and add one whole lemon juice while it is still hot. This can be enjoyed as a side dish with pasta and vegetables or small chicken pieces can be added to any rice dish.
These were a few tips for healthy diet. If you are struggling with health issues, following a healthy and balanced diet will solve the problem to a great extent. Do leave us your comments below.