We can be overwhelmed with the commercials claiming to offer the best solution for healthy eating and living. Probiotics are being touted as the cure-all for everything. And while they can help you keep a better balance, the real key to feeling better physically and mentally are the healthy foods we put into our bodies.
Proper nutrition is fundamental to a healthy lifestyle. According to the National Health and Medical Research Council, “Food provides our bodies with the energy, protein, essential fats, vitamins, and minerals to live, grow and function properly.” There are some simple guidelines we can follow to construct healthy meals at any time of the day.
Breakfast is an important start, particularly for kids. But heavy sugar meals such as cereal and donuts can leave you with a crash mid-morning. However, adding protein and fiber such as eggs or oatmeal will help get you through until lunch. If you’re always in a hurry in the morning, you can pre-make your breakfast the night before and grab it on the way out the door.
Lunch and dinner are best packed with veggies, whether salad or greens tucked into a sandwich. Beans and green vegetables, fish, and a light go of starches and sugars keep you feeling fuller, give you more energy, and help avoid the crashes that will stop your day. Go light on the dressing and include extras such as nuts, healthy cheeses, and chia seeds.
Water is a fundamental element of health. Water, not coffee, tea, soda, or energy drinks, will help your system stay in balance, increasing your energy and your mental sharpness. It’s great for giving you a fuller feeling, particularly with meals, and will help your system digest food better.
According to dietitians, most people do not get enough fiber – or water – in their diets. A healthy gut has been linked to a healthy being, not only physically, including our immune system, but mentally as well.
Some of the best “super” foods we can include in our diets:
Apples: Provide fiber and contain the antioxidant quercetin which may reduce the risk of lung cancer. Sweeter apples also satisfy that sweet tooth.
Eggs: Versatile and good for any time of the day with 6 grams of protein and only 60-75 calories per egg. And before you throw that yoke away, remember, this is your protein. The benefits far outweigh the cholesterol. You can even boil a few and keep them in the fridge for a healthy snack or on-the-go breakfast or lunch.
Salmon: Rich in omega-3s, important for the heart. If not salmon, pick a healthy, clean fish. Baked or broiled is better than coated and deep-fried.
Prunes (dried plums): full of fiber and polyphenols, shown to boost bone density. Prunes are even manufactured in single packs to take on the go or leave at the office to stave off the vending machine.
Spinach: Again, a versatile, healthy, superfood that can be tossed in a salad, topped on a sandwich, or thrown in some eggs for a nutrient-rich Quiche. Spinach has stayed at the top of the list for healthy foods due to all of its health benefits.
Canned pumpkin: Doesn’t sound right, does it? But canned pumpkin not only saves you the mess of carving out your own pumpkin but this versatile, delicious fruit is low in calories and packed with nutrients, such as potassium, magnesium, vitamins A and K, and that ever-important fiber, without the fat.
Avocados: These contain healthy fat and again are versatile. A little mashed avocado in the morning can help start your day. They serve as a delicious addition to any sandwich. And of course, they’re great in guacamole as well.
Brussels Sprouts: Packed with 3.8 grams of fiber per cup with only 38 calories, these mini-cabbage-looking veggies give plenty of vitamin C. This is great for cold and flu season when your immune system needs to be a peak performance. There are plenty of recipes available to bring out the best flavors. Try grilling with a little salt and pepper or broiling with a little bacon.
Chia seeds: Sprinkled on salads, in smoothies, in oatmeal, or yogurt, these little seeds offer plenty of protein and fiber, absorbing liquid and helping you feel fuller longer.
Beans and Lentils: Full of that fabulous fiber and versatile as well. Beans and lentils can be thrown into any soup or make a soup of their own. They can be a part of any healthy meal as an addition, an appetizer, or in place of vegetables.
We don’t have to give up ice cream to start living healthy. Cutting out everything can lead to binging, so it’s best to incorporate those things in moderation. A little note: eating sugars when we eat our meal, such as dessert after dinner instead of a larger snack later, can help our bodies digest and get rid of access without adding extra pounds.
Healthy eating doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With a little mindful practice, we can find practical, inexpensive, and healthy foods to make our days brighter and know we’re on the right track to a long, healthy life.
For more information on healthy eating and its effects, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 570-208-2787. You can also visit the Cawley Physical Therapy website and see the many options available to you.