Over the decades our food habits have changed so drastically it's hard to understand what constitutes a traditional healthy diet. Adding to the confusion is an overabundance of food choices and, especially during this time of the year, countless sources of nutritional and weight loss information competing for our attention.
Newspapers, magazines, TV, radio and the Internet overwhelm and confuse us with often-contradictory reports. But through all of this, three basic principles remain as the foundation of a healthy diet: variety, moderation and balance.
Eating a wide variety of different foods helps ensure that you consume essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals. A less varied diet may not be able to sustain you in a weight loss program, and it can get boring and cause you to quit.
Moderation is important with so many tempting foods around us all the time. Practicing moderation means that you are choosing nutrient dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meat and dairy products more often than foods low in nutrient density. Low nutrient density foods are high in fats, sugars, sodium, and calories.
You reach a balance in your diet when you both expand the variety of the foods you eat, and eat them in moderation.
Choosing to move towards a more healthy diet requires that you commit to observing your current eating patterns, and then make the changes necessary to achieve variety, moderation and balance. Make these changes gradual and enjoyable, and they will yield lasting improvements to both your health and waistline.
Megan Porter, RD