“Man is a food-dependent creature. If you don’t feed him, he will die. If you feed him improperly, part of him will die.” ~ Emanuel Cheraskin, M.D., D.M.D.
A healthy eating plan is a set of basic steps towards healthier eating that can provide your body with nutrients it needs, help manage your weight, keep your immune system strong, and reduce your risk for certain diseases.
A healthy eating plan has to be personalized so it can meet your individual needs.
Here are 10 guidelines for creating your healthy eating plan:
1. Start with assessing your CURRENT HEALTH (your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, your sleep and mood, etc): it is important to clearly know where you start at in order to define where you want to be.
2. Identify your daily EATING HABITS (the foods, the portions, the number of meals per day, the places you eat at, etc): this will help you understand what you’re doing wrong and what your weaknesses are. You may create a list of your eating habits. Keeping a food diary for a few days, in which you write down everything you eat and the time of day you ate it, may help uncover your habits.
3. Identify your GOALS for weight or/and health: define precisely what you want to achieve, do it in written. This will help you focus on your desired results.
4. Choose SIMPLE STEPS to start with: starting with small steps will help you start seeing changes soon and stay motivated to move towards your goal.
5. Use healthy GROCERY SHOPPING strategies: go through your kitchen to identify unhealthy foods and think of healthier alternatives, create a grocery list of healthy staples, don’t shop when you’re hungry, etc. Deciding on healthy foods you will be keeping at home will be an important step towards your healthy eating at home, snacking and packing a healthy lunch.
6. Adopt healthy HOME COOKING strategies: discover ways to prepare healthy meals quickly and tasty, think of the healthier alternatives of your favorite meals, use healthy seasoning options.
7. Create your own healthy EATING OUT pattern: choose eating places that offer lighter portions, ask for healthier food and beverage options.
8. Upgrade your DAILY EATING HABITS: eat 5-6 times a day (including snacks) in moderate portions, make breakfast a priority, avoid eating your largest meal at dinner.
9. Discover ways to incorporate more FRESH, WHOLE, UNPROCESSED FOODS (such as fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains) into your diet. Lean meats, fish, dairy products, eggs, and nuts are also important foods in your weekly diet, however, should be taken in moderate amounts.
10. Make it a habit to have your favorite UNHEALTHY FOODS ON RARE OCCASIONS and in small amounts. Usually these foods, also called junk food (such as potato chips, soft drinks, cakes, cookies, pizzas, hamburgers, hotdogs, ice cream, etc), are usually highly processed, low in nutrients and high in salt, added sugars and fat.
Don’t forget to ask for a SUPPORT: involve your family and friends in making daily healthy choices – this will help you stick to your goal.