Since the time that we all started to spell words, healthy eating has been in the air. All and sundry gush about how important it is to have nutritive food. Science subjects have entire chapters dedicated to eating a meal that gives you balanced nutrition. Every once in a while, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and fiber have landed on our ears but never taken a passage further into the brain.
So, while we are familiar with the essential class of nutrients and sometimes, we also talk about including fruits and veggies in our diet, there is little that we know about eating healthily. We only see carbs and fats in terms of calories that either help us gain weight or lose it. That’s all folks, end of story. Sadly, that’s not it. Health eating goes a long way to improve your crappy mood. Yes, you heard that right. Can’t see a connection? Read on to find out more.
How much do we really know about healthy eating?
Most people believe that they are eating healthy but evidence suggests otherwise. A recent survey reveals that 80% of the Americans fail to follow the healthy eating mantra. It states that all these people are unable to take the recommended quantity of fruits and vegetables. On the flip side, the intake of processed food and refined sugars is high.
Researchers of this study believe that this is seriously contributing to the rising epidemic of obesity in the United States. Marion Nestle, a Nutrition scholar blames the relentless marketing adopted by junk food companies. Nestle opines, “Most people try to do the best they can, given their circumstances. Education is an issue, but so is relentless food marketing.”
Another glaring statistic to add to the pile is a study published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings. The research revealed that less than 3% of the Americans live a healthy lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle according to this study stands on the following four pillars:
- Moderate to vigorous exercise that takes up minimum 150 minutes in a week
- No tobacco
- Body fat percentage marked at 20% for men and 30% for women
- Diet score leveled in top 40% of the Healthy Eating Index
At the same time, fast food consumption is nowhere near a decline. 1 in 4 people eat fast food on a daily note. An average American spends $1200 on fast food consumption. Surprisingly, fast food outlets serve 50 million customers daily. In fact, a 2012 poll highlights that 52% of the US citizen thought that understanding taxes was easier than figuring out healthy eating.
All these facts and figure speak volumes of our poor understanding of the key concept of healthy eating.
What exactly is healthy eating?
Put simply, healthy eating means eating all the food that falls in the four critical categories of nutrition. It involves introducing a variety in your diet chart. This is significant so that you can get the most from all nutrient classes. Your balanced nutrition plan, therefore, begins with making certain that your meals include carbs, proteins, good fats, minerals, vitamins as well as water.
Healthy eating does not orbit around restrictive eating or having limited portions of foods that leave you with hunger pangs. This eating pattern is more about the quality of the food that you eat than about its quantity. Most of us mistake quantity of food with quality. If you consume an average-sized portion of nutritive food, you will feel healthier rather than hungrier.
Every 5 years, USDA publishes guidelines for all the US citizens. The gist to bear in mind is that you are supposed to cut on sugars, processed, and junk food. You also need to focus on including fish in your diet, as it is a rich source of protein and omega-3 fats. Include at least 2 portions of sea food in your weekly diet as well.
The recommended portion of fruits and vegetables is set at five servings per day. Unsweetened fresh fruit juice, smoothies, and vegetable juices are also included in this calculation. Hence, with the right spirit, it is really not that difficult to skip to healthy eating.
You also need to ensure that sugar and saturated fats don’t take the front seat in your meals. The average recommended parameters for daily saturated fat per day is 30 grams for men and 20 grams for women. Fizzy drinks also need to be struck out of your checklist along with tobacco.
How is healthy eating a knight in shining armor?
The average American has a BMI that closely touches the medical definition of obesity. Other than that the numbers bearing witness to the epidemic of overweight and obesity are soaring high. This stands true not only for the US but most of the world. According to fresh data, adult obesity rates touch the marker of approximately 35%.
Childhood obesity is another matter of serious concern. The main culprit behind the rising rates of obesity, however, is the neglect of healthy eating. The junk food and sugar addiction is costing us heavily. This is, particularly, observable with the health concerns that come associated with obesity.
Obesity is concerned with numerous health conditions. These include cardiovascular disorders, asthma, diabetes type II, certain types of cancer, and a lot more. Needless to say, obesity sips on one’s confidence, which is a total bummer. Therefore, the first factor that makes a healthy eating significant is its role in diseases prevention.
As and when you eat healthily, you also get to cut down the extra fat pounds on your body. Not only do your feel healthy on the inside but also look well-toned on the outside without the extra kilos. Likewise, healthy eating also climaxes in a radiant and glowing skin along with enhanced energy levels. All these reasons contribute to the importance of nutritive eating.
Good eating is connected with mental well-being too. In his book, The Rough Guide to Happiness, Therapist Nick Baylis, outlines, “Good nutrition in all its forms-from food and sleep to exercise and daylight-will help our mind-body system thrive profoundly.” Several studies hold sugars responsible for irritable mood and depression. Research shows that sugar is one of the leading factors that causes stress.
A-List personal trainer and author of the Clean And Lean low-sugar diet, James Duigan, explains the role of sugar. He says, “Refined sugar and processed foods release sugar into the body too quickly. This increases the amount of insulin, which convinces our bodies to store fat rather than burn it, and alters our blood sugar levels.” The research authors explain that these imbalanced sugar levels are the reason behind anxiety, irritability, and mood swing.
Another study shows that high trans fat consumption enhances levels of aggression and irritability. These studies show that an unhealthy diet correlates with behavioral matters. Therefore, healthy eating is also responsible for good mood and improved mental well-being.
Another bonus point is that healthy eating is linked with increased productivity. Research shows that an unhealthy diet is linked with 66% loss of productivity. All these factors shows that it is critical to undertake healthy eating. In a nutshell, it helps to lose weight, keeps several diseases at bay, improves your behavior and mental well-being, and boosts your productivity as well.