Losing weight has, for years, been touted by many health professionals and mass media as a cure to several health problems including heart disease, diabetes, and even untimely death. While this can’t be refuted, experts have also shown that focusing only on weight loss isn’t necessarily a wise thing to do.
“People shouldn’t focus on weight loss, but on health,” says Professor Wittert, an endocrinologist at the University of Adelaide, Australia. “When one follows healthy habits for wellbeing and enjoyment rather than trying to lose weight, they are more likely to maintain these lifestyle changes and stave off weight gain and obesity later,” he adds. Professor Wittert, who has been leading a long-term research program on diet, appetite, and lifestyle asserts that if we change the debate from losing weight to eating for your health, it will eliminate the unnecessary distress and pressure to lose weight.
A recent study found that people who followed diets rich in fruit, plenty of vegetables, and the right fat and protein had a lower risk of heart disease and mortality rate. Apart from diet, the study also pointed out three other healthy behaviors: moderate alcohol intake, quitting or avoiding smoking, and of course, regular exercise. The study found that people that maintained a healthy diet and exercise regularly had a lower risk of dying whether or not they were classed obese, overweight, or normal weight.
So how do you eat for your health and not for weight lose? It isn’t difficult really; you only need some basic nutritional science and common sense.
Balance Your Diet
To maintain a healthy body, you need a balance of fat, protein, fiber, carbs, minerals, and vitamins. Some extreme diets could suggest otherwise, but it is extremely important that you eat well-balanced meals. Choose the healthiest food options from each food category. It’s imperative that you understand which foods are good for you and which ones aren’t. Here are examples of healthy options from each food category:
Fish like salmon, herring, sardines, mackerel, etc., poultry, legumes, nonfat milk, yogurt, eggs, red meat, and butter, among others.
Eat more whole grains and unrefined carbs. Cut back on refined and processed carbs like white bread, starches, pastries, and sugars.
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables (at least five servings a day). Leafy greens like broccoli, kales, spinach, and lettuce, and fruits like bananas, berries, watermelon, and oranges are good for you.
Get healthy fat from plant oils like canola, soy, olive, corn, peanut, sunflower, and other vegetable oils. Eat nuts like almonds, filberts, peanuts, pistachios, cashew nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, etc. Oily fish, such as trout, herring, pilchards, mackerel, and sardines are also good as they come with the healthy omega-3-fatty acids.
Eat foods with high dietary fiber. These include fruits, beans, nuts, vegetables, and grains.
Once you select your foods well from the above categories, you are sure to get the right mix of minerals like calcium and potassium. Avoid saturated fat; too much saturated fat is what’s commonly responsible for increased cholesterol levels in the blood and increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. Most people get saturated fat from junk food like pies, cookies, French fries, cakes, etc. You can also get these fats from fatty cuts of meat, hard cheese, lard, and sausages.
Eat Less Salt
Too much salt isn’t good for your health. It raises your blood pressure exposing you to stroke and heart disease. While healthy eating habits are important for your health, it’s important to mention that regular exercise is as important. So, while you are eating for your health, be sure to exercise for your health as well.