The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports a substantial rise in obesity in the United States during the past 20 years. Nearly one-third of U.S. adults and 12.5 million children are obese. The health risks associated with obesity also are severe. Some obesity-related conditions include strokes, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. This is why, now more than ever, it’s important to have a dietary health plan and eating guidelines.
Nutrition experts at the Harvard School of Public Health created the Healthy Eating Plate to help people make better food choices. Half of the plate is for vegetables, and the more color those vegetables have, the better. Also, potatoes don’t count as vegetables because the high starch content can raise blood sugar. One quarter of the plate is for lean protein such as beans, fish, and chicken.
Keep consumption of red meats to a minimum and avoid processed meats such as sausage and bacon as much as possible. The last quarter of the plate is for whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, barley, and wheat. These grains do not raise blood sugar levels as much as refined grains like white rice.
The average American consumes 3,436 mg of sodium when the CDC recommends a maximum of 2,300 mg daily. A high-sodium diet can increase the risk of experiencing a heart attack, strokes, and high blood pressure. To make sure you are getting the correct amount of sodium in your dietary health diet, cut your consumption of salty snack foods like potato chips and pretzels, and reduce the amount of prepackaged foods you eat.
Swap Sugar-Sweetened Beverages
Completely cut out drinks with extra sugar added to them, such as fruit punch, lemonade, and sodas from your diet. Additionally, regular consumption of diet drinks isn’t any better. They can lead to diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. Instead, go for one or two daily servings of dairy, and stick with water the rest of the time.
Over the years, waistlines and portion sizes seem to have expanded at roughly comparative rate. Healthy eating not only includes what we eat, but how much we eat as well. To help keep portions under control, use smaller plates, and don’t pile the food on. If you’re still hungry, you can always go back for seconds.
Also, if you’re full, you can save the food for another day. Finally, choose high nutrient foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts. Not only are they packed with antioxidants that help fight diseases, they help prevent overeating by filling you up faster, and they keep you feeling full longer.
Dietary health is just the first step in a healthy lifestyle. However, since many of the deaths that occur from obesity-related diseases are preventable, it is certainly an important step to take.
This article contributed by Jonathan Fritz