Eating a healthy, balanced diet doesn’t need to be complicated—or restrictive. Start by choosing a variety of foods from all the major food groups, including fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, dairy products, grains and cereals, and healthy oils and fats.
Cutting back on less nutritious, higher fat, processed foods (there’s no need to eliminate treats completely) can help you maintain a healthy weight—and is better for your heart and body in general.
Here are important reasons why striving for a healthier diet is worth it.
It’s possible to lose weight by eating highly processed, low-calorie foods or by following a restrictive fad diet. However, this is not the ideal way to lose weight, keep it off, or improve your health.
Eating a healthy diet that includes lots of fresh, nutrient-dense fruits and veggies, high-fiber whole grains and legumes, and lean protein sources will help you lose weight. At the same time, you will feel satisfied and give your body all the nutrients it needs.
While weight loss attracts a majority of the headlines, some people need to gain weight loss due to illness or for other reasons. Choosing healthful, energy-dense foods like nuts, seeds, and dried fruit can help you gain weight without resorting to foods that offer calories, but little or no nutrition.
Reduced Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Obesity and a history of less healthy eating habits are two major risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes. Increasing your intake of nutritious foods and losing excess weight (if you’re overweight) may help reduce your risk of having type 2 diabetes in the future.
Improved Heart Health
A diet rich in fish, nuts, fruits, grains, and veggies, such a Mediterranean-style diet, provides your body with omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats that are good for your heart. This type of diet also makes it easier to avoid most trans fats, which are associated with cardiovascular disease.
Reduced Risk of Cancer
Eating an unhealthy diet, drinking too much alcohol, gaining too much weight, and heavy consumption of red and processed meats are all associated with a higher risk of some forms of cancer. Although it’s difficult to say with certainty that any particular foods prevent cancer, eating a healthy diet overall may decrease your cancer risk.
It’s unrealistic to expect your kids to eat broccoli if you don’t eat anything green yourself. Setting a good example for your child when it comes to healthy foods shows them that you value good nutrition and lets them see what healthy eating really looks like.
And the more foods you expose your child to, the more likely they will be to find healthy ones they want to eat. Bringing kids into the kitchen to help prepare meals is one way to motivate them to try new foods.
Having a healthy diet gives you the carbohydrates you require for energy, along with sufficient B-complex vitamins to improve the process along. Starting your day with a healthy breakfast will help keep you alert all morning and set the stage for a day of healthy eating. While exercise is important, eating right is the most important thing you can do for your overall fitness and energy levels.
Eating a healthful, balanced diet can provide you with all the essential vitamins and minerals you need each day—and may eliminate the need to buy dietary supplements. While it’s usually OK to take a multi-vitamin to ensure an adequate intake, it might not actually be doing anything to improve your health.
Research is inconclusive about the benefits of supplements and indicates there are far more health benefits associated with simply eating a variety of healthful foods. Additionally, in some cases, taking supplements can be risky.
If your healthcare provider has advised you to take supplements, consult with them before you stop taking any of these supplements.
Healthier Skin and Hair
Eating a healthy diet helps you look your best by supplying the nutrients your skin needs to stay supple and smooth. It may even stave off wrinkles. Also, your hair requires great nourishment, including lots of protein, to be soft, shiny, and healthy.
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, most Americans eat far less dietary fiber than they should. Fiber is essential for a healthy digestive system and helps to maintain normal cholesterol and blood sugar levels. It further helps you observe plentifully, so you’re less likely to eat. Eating right for your digestive system includes lots of fiber sources, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.