- Meet your nutritional needs – A varied, balanced eating plan provides the nutrients you need to avoid nutritional deficiencies. Non-nutrients, such as fiber, also are a part of your nutritional needs.
- Prevent and treat certain diseases – A sound eating plan can prevent the risk of developing certain diseases such as cancer and heart disease. It is also helpful in treating diabetes and high blood pressure. Following a special eating plan
- Enjoy life – Food is an important part of social and cultural events. Not only does it provide nutrition, but it can facilitate connections between people. Cooking fresh, healthy meals can also be an enjoyable way to spend time, either on your own or with others.
- Feel energetic and manage your weight – A healthy eating plan may also make you feel better, provide you with more energy, and help you fight stress.
What type of eating plan promotes healthy weight loss?
Although there is much disagreement about what kinds of calories are better, the most sensible and healthy way to diet is to eat a variety of healthy foods and exercise regularly. Another good rule of thumb for healthy eating is to eat foods as close to the way they come as possible.
Generally, the more heavily processed a food is the less nutritional value it provides. Processed foods also tend to contain more preservatives, salt, saturated fat and sugar, which may hinder your weight loss efforts.
An important note about calories: often people say that losing one pound is as simple as cutting 3,500 calories from your diet. While it is true that it does take a reduction of 3,500 calories to lose one pound, it is important to remember that your body changes with age. As you get older, you will need less calories so you may gain weight even though you consume the same or fewer calories as you did a year or two ago.
Being realistic about how age, gender and body type affect your ability to lose weight is essential. Women tend to gain weight after going through menopause. Faced with unrealistic ideas about their bodies, many women diet excessively or find it so hard to lose the weight that they just give up. Recognizing that your body goes through different stages and that it may not always be exactly the same will help you set realistic weight loss goals and focus on healthy living rather than chronic dieting.
The most healthy and balanced way to approach weight loss is to focus on health, variety and moderation. If you adopt eating, exercise and lifestyle habits that contribute to good health, you should be successful in your goal to look your best.
When thinking about your eating plan, five principles should guide you:
- Good Health – Eating and lifestyle changes focused on healthy living should help guide your weight loss choices. Be conscious about making food choices that are good for your body. Your eating plan can help prevent disease, increase your energy level and improve your waist line at the same time.
- Exercise/Activity – Although exercise is not ingested, it is vital to losing weight and should be inextricably linked to your eating plan. Healthy eating and regular activity go hand in hand in promoting sensible weight loss and long term weight maintenance.
- Balance – It is important to eat many different types of food from different food groups. Eating all protein may aid weight loss for the short term, but it is questionable whether you can keep it up and if you do, your body is missing out on the benefits from fruits, vegetables and complex carbohydrates. Make a commitment to long term health and weight maintenance by having a balanced diet.
- Variety – Eating a variety of food within each food group (for example, eating different fruits from the fruit group instead of eating just apples) will make your eating plan more interesting and healthier. A varied diet helps you get all the nutrients you need, since no single food provides every nutrient. Eating a wide variety of foods will also help you avoid eating too much of any substance that may be harmful, and most importantly, it will keep you from getting bored.
- Moderation – Eat a little bit of everything but avoid excess. There are no good foods or bad foods; all foods can fit in a healthy eating plan if you eat them in moderation.