Simple Dietary Health Tips & Tricks

Submitted By Jonathan Fritz

Focus on the Quality of Your Food

While the balance of energy in your body plays a main role in maintaining weight, it’s not the only factor related to health. The Harvard School of Public Health says that the quality of your food and source of your nutrients matters more than the quantity. Instead of worrying about calorie consumption, focus on incorporating whole foods into your diet, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Not only will this provide you with more nutrients, particularly chronic disease-fighting nutrients such as antioxidants, but this type of diet can help you stay fuller longer to prevent overeating.

Watch the Type of Fat You Eat

Contrary to popular belief, fat in the diet isn’t bad for you, and low-fat diets won’t necessarily contribute to your health. However, focusing on the type of fat and source of fat you eat can determine health risks. In an 8-year follow-up of the Nurse’s Health Study, results showed that total fat consumption didn’t contribute to weight gain. Results did show, however, that people who ate higher percentages of animal, saturated, and trans fats experienced a stronger association to weight gain than women who ate mostly unsaturated and plant-based fats.

Limit Your Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

One meta-analysis performed by Yale University psychologists found that people who consume sugar-sweetened beverages tend to drink less healthy fluids, such as milk. With these important nutrients missing in the diet, this lifestyle can lead to chronic conditions like diabetes. This doesn’t mean that diet beverages are necessarily a healthier option, either, since you still won’t get the essential nutrients you need. After careful inspection of several scientific studies, Purdue University researchers concluded that even consuming diet beverages regularly can lead to heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, and metabolic syndrome.

Choose Alternatives to Fast Food

Researchers at the University of North Carolina found in a 2009 study that avoiding fast food may be important for preventing metabolic conditions. The study showed that people who consumed more fast food than the others in the study had larger waists, higher triglyceride levels in the blood, and lower HDL cholesterol levels. There are several ways to avoid this type of poor diet when you’re in a hurry. Some ideas include:
  1. If you know you’re going to be rushed for time, prepare your meal ahead of time. Perhaps pack yourself a sandwich (on whole wheat bread) with a side of fruits or vegetables.
  2. Stop at the grocery store and pick up some fresh fruit, a salad, nuts, fresh veggies, yogurt, or a healthy option from the deli counter. There are plenty of healthy options at the grocery store, including already prepared meals that you can easily grab and go but will provide more nutrients and benefits than a fast food meal.
  3. If you must go to a fast-food restaurant, opt for healthier choices by choosing “grilled” instead of “fried” and whole a wheat bun instead of a white enriched bun.

Control Your Portions

If you eat more food than you need, you not only risk gaining weight, but you could experience other complications in the body due to an imbalance of nutrients. You don’t necessarily have to set a certain limit on your food consumption, but studies have shown that people tend to eat more when served in large portions. The idea is to make sure you don’t pile your plate, but you can always go back for seconds if you’re still hungry. To keep things under control, avoid loading your plate, use smaller dishes, and only eat until you’re satisfied.

Cut Back on Sodium

Too much sodium in the diet has been linked to high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attacks. According to the CDC, Americans consume on average 3,436 mg of sodium per day (often in the form of table salt) when the recommendation sits around 1,500 mg with an Upper Tolerable Limit set at 2,300 mg per day. You can use these tips to reduce your sodium consumption:
  1. Avoid processed or pre-packaged foods since they tend to contain high sodium levels.
  2. Try slowly reducing the amount of salt you add to food.
  3. Cut back on salty foods such as pretzels, potato chips, or salted nuts.
  4. Choose your meals carefully when you eat out since restaurant items tend to contain more salt than home-cooked alternatives.
  5. Choose frozen veggies instead of canned vegetables.

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