We’ve heard it a million times- “eat more fruits and vegetables, avoid processed foods, skip the fast food drive-through”. Eating healthy is easy to talk about, but putting it into practice can be a much harder task. Let’s break down all of the wonderful, abundant benefits of a healthy diet to have a better understanding and a stronger answer to “why should I make healthy changes to my diet?”
So, what is a healthy diet?
First, let’s define what a healthy diet looks like. A healthy diet is made up of a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and starches, good fats, and lean proteins. A healthy balance of these foods groups will promote general health and wellbeing.
apple, apricot, banana, berries, cantaloupe, clementine, fig, grapes, honeydew melon, kiwi, mango, nectarine, peach, pear, pineapple, plum, pomegranate, watermelon
artichoke, arugula, asparagus, beets, bok choy, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, celery, collards, cucumber, eggplant, kale, leeks, mushroom, onion, peppers, radish, snow peas, sugar snap peas, Swiss chard, tomato, watercress, zucchini
barley, brown rice, buckwheat, bulgur, millet, oatmeal, popcorn, whole-wheat bread and pasta
beans, potatoes, corn, pasta, grains
avocado, olive oil, chia seeds, fish such as salmon and mackerel
white fish such as cod, haddock, flounder, halibut, and tilapia, white-meat poultry, lean beef (opt for >90% lean ground beef), pork loin, egg whites
Plant-based protein options
Tofu, tempeh, edamame, lentils, chickpeas, nuts, seeds
Benefits of a healthy Diet
Simply, put, good food = good you. In almost every way, shape or form. Let's take a look at some of the biggest reasons you should dedicate yourself to a healthier diet.
1. Controls weight
A healthy diet helps properly fuel your body with the best nutrients it needs and leaves you feeling full. The foods mentioned above help you stay within your daily calorie goal as they are lower in calories compared to their processed, high fat, high sugar counterparts. Those foods are also higher in fiber which helps promote feeling fuller longer (aka reaching for that post-meal dessert less often!)
2. Boosts productivity
Ever wish there was 25 hours in a day instead of 24 to get more done? Well, good nutrition may help you find that extra hour! A healthy diet can raise productivity by 20%. This is because your focus, alertness, and memory are improved. Processed, high sugar foods temporarily spike your blood sugar and then crash hard leaving you feeling dazed and tired. Avoid skipping breakfast as the morning meal is essential to performing well throughout the day. I like grabbing my favorite no cow s’mores protein bar on mornings I am rushing out the door.
3. Fights diseases
Antioxidants are the star of the show in a healthy diet. Antioxidants are substances found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes. These antioxidants are extremely beneficial in preventing and fighting different diseases. Proper nutrition can lead to reduced cancer risk, diabetes management, heart health, stroke prevention, and improved bone health. After everything this year has brought on, this is a bit of a no-brainer!
4. Improves mood
Changes in your blood sugar can send your mood swinging. A balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar stable which helps you maintain your mood throughout the day. A healthy diet also helps ensure your body is getting an adequate amount of nutrients. Nutrient deficiencies often times have symptoms that affect mood in a negative way.
5. Improves sleep
Punch your ticket to a great night of sleep. Certain foods can help or even hinder your sleep. Try to avoid caffeine, spicy foods, and high fat foods before going to bed. They may make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night. Fresh fruits and vegetable, whole grains, and low fat proteins may help regulate melatonin which is an important hormone that regulates your sleep cycle.
Eating healthy goes so much more beyond controlling weight. It truly can affect your quality of life in a positive way. Who doesn’t want to be more productive during the day, lower their risk of disease, improve their mood, and finally get that night of sleep we dream of? Let all of these benefits drive your desire to eat healthy.