Determining if your diet is healthy - Health Care Department California

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Determining if your diet is healthy enough
Ceck this out personally

Everyone wants to eat a healthier diet, but it can sometimes be difficult to know if your diet is healthy enough.  There are a number of factors that go into creating a healthy diet, and it is important to evaluate the current state of your diet before embarking on a plan for healthier eating.

There are several questions you should ask yourself when evaluating the healthiness (or lack thereof) of your current eating plan.

These questions include:

Do I eat a wide variety of foods?
Variety is one of the most important hallmarks of a healthy diet, since no one food contains all the nutrients needed by the human body.  It is important to eat foods from all the major food groups, including grains and breads, fruits and vegetables, milk and dairy products, meats, beans and nuts.

If you find yourself avoiding some food groups, such as vegetables for instance, it may be time to look for a healthier diet.

questions about healthy foods
Do I recognize the importance of cereals, breads and other grain products?
Eating a wide variety of grain based products is important to a healthy diet.  Grains and cereals contain a large number of important nutrients, including high levels of dietary fiber.

It is important to choose whole grain products as often as possible, since whole grain products like wheat bread contain more nutrients than more refined white bread and similar products.  When eating cereal, it is a good idea to choose whole grain varieties, or those that are enriched with vitamins and minerals.


Do I eat lots of fruits and vegetables?
Many people do not eat sufficient servings of fruits and vegetables every day.  Most experts recommend eating between 5 and 9 servings of fruits and vegetables every day, roughly equivalent to 2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables.
When shopping for vegetables and fruits, it is important to choose a good variety of dark green, dark red, orange and yellow varieties.  That is because different colored fruits and vegetables contain a variety of different nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin A and beta carotene.

Do I eat a good breakfast every morning?
Breakfast, or the absence of it, is often a good indicator of the state of your diet.  If you rush out of the house every morning and grab a donut at the local convenience store, chances are your diet can use some work.  A healthy breakfast provides a foundation for the rest of the day, helps you avoid cravings and provides much needed nutrition.

Do I choose low fat foods over higher fat alternatives?
This is also an important question to ask yourself.  Low fat alternatives are available for a variety of products, including milk, cheese, meats and more.

One part of following a healthy, low fat diet is avoiding prepared foods whenever possible, since prepared foods tend to have higher amounts of fat and sodium than fresh foods.

It is also important to control the amount of fat that is added at the table.  Adding things like butter, sour cream and heavy sauces is a sure way to ruin an otherwise healthy meal.  Even healthy foods like salads can be sabotaged by the addition of high fat salad dressings.  Try using lower fat alternatives like flavored vinegars instead.

*You can always consult our detailed Food Table HERE.

Do I drink plenty of water?
Drinking plenty of fresh, pure water is important to maintaining a healthy body and a healthy lifestyle.  Water is important to maintaining optimal levels of health.  

If you think you need more water, try substituting water for less healthy beverages like soda and coffee.

Am I able to maintain my optimal body weight?
Gaining weight without trying to is often a sign of a poor diet.  Following a healthy diet, and getting plenty of regular exercise, is the only way to lose weight and keep it off.

Do I limit the amount of salt, sugar, alcohol and caffeine in my diet?
While all of these elements are fine in moderation, excessive amounts of any of these four can indicate a serious problem with your diet.  It is important to limit the amount of unhealthy elements in any diet.


The five a day rule and healthier eating
Give it a try

Assuming you are following a healthy lifestyle, if you have not heard of the five a day rule before, that is about to change. The five a day rule refers to the recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables.  Health experts recommend that every eat – yes you guessed it – five, six a day.

That five/six a day guideline is actually the minimum recommendation, and eating up to nine servings a day of fruits and vegetables is a great way to increase health, lower dietary fat, increase vitamin consumption and just generally feel better.

Following the five/six a day rule may just be the most important, and one of the easiest, changes you can make in your daily diet.  There are many reasons to increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables, including:

fruits and vegetables for weight loss
Ø They are delicious
Ø They are nutritious
Ø They are colorful
Ø They are plentiful
Ø They are inexpensive

It is hard to find such a great combination in any other food group.  Delicious, nutritious and affordable foods can be hard to find, but they abound in the produce section of virtually any grocery store.  


In order to make fruits and vegetables even more affordable, it is best to buy them when they are in season.  Every type of fruit and vegetable grown in this country has its own growing season, and fruits and vegetables that are out of season usually must be purchased in frozen, dried or canned varieties.

Fresh, in season, fruits and vegetables, on the other hand, are usually plentiful and inexpensive.  And in addition to the grocery store, such produce is often available at farmers markets and even at roadside stands.  This locally grown produce is often of superior quality and lower price than that at the supermarket, so if you have such a venue in your area by all means check it out.

It has long been known that fruits and vegetables play an important role in a healthy diet, and science continues to confirm this fact with study after study.  Diets high in fruits and vegetables and low in fats have been shown to play a role in preventing infections, protecting the heart and even in protecting against some kinds of cancer.
One reason for this is that many fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants.  Antioxidants are able to protect the body from damage by free radicals.  Free radicals are naturally occurring compounds thought to play a role in many diseases.

One quick and easy way to take care of one fifth of the five a day rule is to start every day with a fresh glass of fruit juice.  Apple juice, orange juice and grapefruit juice are all excellent choices.  

When choosing juice, however, be sure that it is 100% real fruit juice and not a blend.  
Fruit juice blends can contain high levels of sugar and low levels of fruit.

A quick fruit salad is another excellent way to satisfy part of the five a day rule.  It is easy to make a quick fruit salad using either canned or fresh fruits.  In addition, canned fruit salads are widely available and often a great value.  As with juice, however, it is important to read the label and be sure that there is no added sugar.  Fruit is sweet enough on its own – extra sugar is something you simply do not need. Another interesting way to increase fruit and vegetable consumption is to use them as garnishes for other foods.  For instance, adding strawberries, blueberries or bananas to your morning cereal is a great way to increase the flavor of the cereal while at the same time increasing the amount of fruit in your diet.

And adding vegetables like green peppers, red peppers and chunks of pineapples to shish kebobs is a great way to grill your way to good health.  Your kebobs will be more colorful, more attractive, and of course more healthy.

No matter how you choose to meet the five a day rule, there is no doubt that increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables in the diet can have a profound effect on health.

Many who have eaten more fruits and vegetables report greater levels of energy, a greater sense of well being, fewer colds and more stamina.

So why not follow the simple five a day plan to good health?


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