How to Make Wise Food Decisions
What you eat significantly contributes to your overall physical health. Consuming quality foods rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber can improve the way you feel. Making healthy food choices can help you manage your weight, increase your energy, elevate your mood, and reduce inflammation and pain.
Fortunately, you don’t need to memorize a long list of rules when it comes to making wise food decisions. There are two main rules that are simple and straightforward to help guide you as you discover food that is better for your body.
Rule No. 1: Limit or avoid refined sugar and processed foods. Read the labels on the foods you buy, and avoid foods that are full of chemicals, sugars, preservatives and artificial coloring.
Rule No. 2: Increase vegetables and whole foods. The closer a food is to its natural state, the more nutrient dense it typically is. Fuel your body with nourishing substances, cook with whole foods and take your time enjoying the flavors as you eat.
Here are some tips to get you started.
- Buy seasonal produce. Take advantage of fresh seasonal produce available through outlets like the Farmers’ Market, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs and community gardens. Produce purchased in-season has the best flavor and the most nutrients.
- Fill half your plate with vegetables. Try different herbs to season vegetables without adding salt and fat. Try adding veggies to smoothies, sandwiches, burgers or wraps.
- Satisfy a sweet tooth with fruit. When you are craving something sweet, try fruit first. Eat whole fruits and limit your consumption of fruit juices.
- Make healthy proteins and fats part of your diet. Choose from either animal or plant-based proteins and fats. Select meats like lean beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, wild game and seafood. Seeds, nuts, beans, quinoa and eggs are other excellent low-fat or plant-based protein options.
- Watch what you are drinking. Your beverage has the potential to either support or negatively interfere with your nutrition. Select beverages like water, black coffee and unsweetened tea that you can self-sweeten to control consumption of excess calories, fat, sodium, sugar and additives.
- Eat mindfully, and listen to your biological hunger cues. Eat only when physically hungry, not when you are bored or seeking emotional comfort. Remove distractions (no devices) and don’t eat in front of the television. Eat slowly and chew thoroughly, engaging your senses to notice colors, smells, sounds, textures and tastes. Stop eating before you feel full.
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