Following a healthy eating plan and staying physically active are the keys to achieve a healthy lifestyle. But exactly what does “healthy eating” mean?
The answer is found in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (of which the National Institute on Aging is a member). According to the Guidelines, a healthy diet complies with the following:
Emphasizes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and milk and low-fat or low-fat dairy products
Includes low-fat meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts
It is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt and in added sugars
Balances the calories of the meals and drinks consumed with the calories burned through physical activity, to maintain a healthy weight.
Tips to eat healthy
Here are some recommendations to eat healthy:
Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. Eating fruits and vegetables of different colors gives your body a wide range of valuable nutrients, including fiber, folate, potassium and vitamins A and C. Some examples are green spinach, orange sweet potatoes, black beans, Yellow ears of corn, purple plums, blueberries, red watermelon and white onions. Consume them with your meals or as snacks. If possible, do not peel fruits and vegetables. For example, eat the shell when eating a baked potato and eat apples, pears or unpeeled peaches, as snacks. Do not forget to wash fruits and vegetables before eating them.
Eat a diet rich in foods that contain fiber, such as beans, fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain foods. Breakfast is a good time to enjoy foods that contain fiber. For example, try whole grain cereals or cereal bran that do not contain sugar and add fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries or bananas.
Season your meals using lemon juice, herbs or spices, instead of using butter and salt.
Look for foods that are low in cholesterol and fat, especially saturated fat (found primarily in foods that come from animals) and trans-fat (found in many cakes, in sweet and salty cookies, in lusters, in margarines and in popcorn ready to prepare them in the microwave). Saturated fats and trans fats can increase blood cholesterol levels.
Choose and prepare foods with little salt.
Choose low-fat cuts of meat and poultry. Trim extra fat and remove skin from chicken and turkey before cooking. Instead of frying, try roasting, roasting, baking, steaming, microwaving or boiling.
Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight are important things for your health and general well-being. The secret is to balance the “energy that enters” with the “energy that comes out” over time. The “energy that goes in” refers to the calories from the foods and drinks that you consume each day, and the “energy that goes out” refers to the calories you burn during your body’s basic functions and during activity physical. Your weight will stay the same when the calories you eat, and drink equals the calories you burn. On the other hand, you will gain weight when the number of calories you eat, and drink is greater than the number of calories you burn. Physical activity can help you achieve and maintain a healthier weight.
Drink enough fluids
It is important to drink enough fluids to keep your body functioning properly. This is especially true for older adults, because they often do not feel thirsty even when their bodies need fluids. Drinking enough fluids every day is essential for those who exercise regularly, consume large amounts of protein, use laxatives or live in areas with high temperatures.
Drink plenty of liquids such as water and other drinks without added sugar. Low-fat or fat-free milk, juices made with 100% fruits or vegetables, coffee and tea are also good sources of fluids, as are foods that are high in moisture such as fruits, vegetables and soups made with low sodium broths. People who choose to drink alcohol should do so sensibly and in moderation, which means no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men.
Eating out is a pleasant activity, but restaurants often serve large meals that can be high in calories, fat and salt. Here are some tips to help you make your meal both delicious and nutritious:
Ask for foods such as salads with low-fat meats, low-fat or low-fat cheeses, and other added ingredients. Choose a salad dressing without fat or low fat and ask to be served separately to control the amount you use.
Choose foods with a tomato-based sauce instead of a white sauce or a cream-based sauce. White sauces or cream-based sauces are usually prepared with butter, milk and cream, and are high in calories and saturated fat. Sauces made from tomatoes usually contain more vitamins, less fat and fewer calories.
Choose foods that have been baked, roasted, stewed, grilled, steamed, fried or boiled instead of fried. When using these methods little or no fat is added.
Avoid “special sauces”. Ask them not to cover their dish with butter or whipped cream.
Control the portions: do not eat the super large sizes; ask for a “small” size or share a portion.
Ask for the food to be prepared without salt and do not add salt when it is served.
Drink water, skim or low-fat milk or other beverages without added sugars.
Instead of French fries, try a small roasted potato, a small salad with low-fat or low-fat dressing, or fruit.
Ask for something from the menu instead of the buffet, which allows you to fill your plate with “everything you can eat”.
In this way you can enjoy a healthy eating and a happy life.