What is a healthy living diet? It is an easy healthy eating plan you can live with and enjoy for life. It is not just about eating healthy foods, but how and why you eat. It is not about this or that diet plan. Rather, it is a commonsense approach that meets the nutritional needs of many of us. It is easily tweaked for those who need to adhere to a more specialized diet.
Wouldn't it be great to put your food issues aside and make peace with your plate?
The healthy living diet will help you do that.
In addition to what to eat, you will also learn easy healthy eating habits and food preparation tips you can live with and feel good about. If you have pounds to lose, you may find that this plan makes it almost effortless for you to release excess weight and keep it off over time.
Note: The following healthy living diet tips are for informational purposes only. Adjust your food or nutrient intake to suit your special health needs. Always consult your doctor before making changes to your prescribed eating plan.
In 2020, the U.S News and World Report rated the Mediterranean Diet best overall, the easiest to follow, and the best diet for diabetes, eating plant-based, and for healthy eating. It has been in the number one position for three years. People living in Mediterranean countries enjoy longer lives and lower rates of memory loss, cancer, diabetes, and obesity than those living in other western countries. Still, a number of doctors and nutritionists agree and disagree with this rating.
In the Mediterranean region, long, leisurely meals including lots of beans and green vegetables along with moderate amounts of fish, seafood, whole grains, pasta, nuts, unpasteurized cheese, and olive oil are often enjoyed with family and friends. Shoppers walk or cycle to the market on a daily basis to buy fresh food for their meals.
Advice about which foods to eat, when, where, how and why vary as widely as the experts sharing their advice. I've done my best to include common-sense principles that have the most support at this time. Having said that, listen to your body and make choices based on what makes you feel vibrant and healthy in body and mind (addictive cravings aside).
Eat a wide variety of food from the following categories to maximize nutrients and reduce your chances of developing sensitivities. Most people eat the same foods over and over in different forms. And these are often most problematic for many. Wheat, corn, soy, dairy, sugar and eggs are in many foods and are eaten at most meals.
Plant foods form the foundation of the healthy living diet. Aim to fill at least half your plate with vegetables, pulses and legumes along with a complement of fruit, seeds, nuts and whole grains.
The natural color of food indicates some of the nutrients it contains.
For example, orange foods are a rich source of antioxidant carotenoids such as beta-carotene which converts to Vitamin A in your intestines. Purple foods contain resveratol and lutein. Dark green foods contain lots of alkalizing, oxygenating, blood building chlorophyll. Red tomatoes, especially when cooked, are a rich source of cancer-fighting lycopene.
Aim for five to nine servings of vegetables and fruit a day on the healthy living diet. Eat more vegetables, than fruit. Pile your plate high so you fill up and get lots of micro-nutrients.
Humans ate lower carbohydrate diets in their hunting and gathering days. In summer, when fruits and berries were available, the sugar was quickly burned off by lots of activity. The same principle is useful today. Active people can consume more carbohydrates without storing them as fat. Sedentary people need much less.
Fiber supports the workings of your gastro-intestinal tract, supports elimination, feeds good gut bacteria, and absorbs toxins.
Complex carbohydrates are absorbed slowly by the body so there’s less effect on insulin and blood sugar.
Complex carbs to eat often:
Limit as much as possible white flour, white rice and sugar. The jury is still out on potatoes. They do contain nutrients and keep you full longer. Eat them with the skin on and avoid french fries.
Check the fiber and sugar content on packaged food. If the amount of sugar is over 5 grams (one teaspoon) a serving and the fiber is less than 3 grams choose something else unless the total carbohydrate count is less than around 10 grams.
Season animal and plant foods generously with herbs and spices.
It is easier to stick with the healthy living diet when your foods taste good.
Season foods generously with turmeric, thyme, oregano, rosemary, pepper, garlic, celery seed, fennel, coriander, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and other herbs and spices you like for flavor and a myriad of natural health promoting properties. Turmeric, for example, is a powerful anti-inflammatory spice. Fennel and dill aid digestion. Pepper aids absorption.
Unrefined salt is an important seasoning. Your body needs some real salt to be healthy. Do yourself a favor. Throw out the over-processed, chemical laden white salt and season your food with Celtic salt, Himalayan salt or Redmond's real salt. Unrefined salt contains dozens of minerals your body needs. Most people can safely consume a teaspoon or two a day to support your body processes and improve the taste of food.
Protein is vital for tissue building and repair. The body cannot store protein, so you need to supply it during the day. Protein needs vary. The average 150 pound adult needs about 55 grams per day.
Your body can make most, but not all of the amino acids you need.
Some foods contain all the amino acids you need. Many foods contain some, but not all the amino acids you need. When eaten together, some foods combine to make complete proteins, such as beans and rice.
The following foods contain all the essential amino acids, or complete protein, your body needs:
Note: Animal foods are pro-inflammatory, cause acidity in the body, and raise blood sugar. It is best to limit your diet to no more than 14 percent animal food in total. If you choose to eat meat and fish for protein, a 3-5 ounce serving once a day or less is plenty. Organic, wild or pastured sources are better than factory farmed meat and fish for humane and health reasons.
Cook protein-rich animal and plant foods slowly over low heat (250 degrees) to avoid damaging the proteins.
Don't be afraid of fat. On the healthy living diet you are encouraged to consume a complement of natural fats, including saturated animal fats in moderation. Approximately 30-40% of your calories should come from fat.
Fats are vital for good health. Plus they keep you feeling full longer and slow sugar absorption into the bloodstream.
Good sources of healthy fats include:
When purchasing oils, choose cold-pressed or expeller-pressed oils. Coconut oil and avocado oils are good for cooking over higher heat. A little sesame seed oil for lower heat cooking tastes good with vegetables. Do not let oils reach their smoke point. Olive oil and nut oils are nice on salads and cooked greens.
If you use flax seed oil, keep it refrigerated. It goes rancid within 20 minutes of being left out. It is probably safer to grind the seeds. Use immediately or freeze for later use. This way, you get all the benefits of the seeds, including the soluble fiber.
Avoid trans-fats and vegetable oils such as corn, soy and canola. Most are over-processed, too high in Omega 6 fatty acids, and deodorized to cover up the fact that they are rancid. Yuck! Ditch the hardened vegetable oil when baking. Avoid trans-fats like the plague.
Snacks can be a great way to get additional nutrients during the day. Prepare them ahead of time for easy healthy eating when you get the munchies.
Junk foods may give you a quick pick me up but will soon have you looking for more to eat. Empty calories don't supply your body with the nutrients or water it was looking for. Certain foods, like those containing high fructose corn syrup, can even stimulate your appetite. Your favorite goodies are not forbidden on the healthy living diet or it would never work. But you do want to limit them to the occasional treat.
Enjoy a variety of good-for-you snacks and junk food alternatives when you have a long stretch between meals. Healthy satisfying snacks include protein, vitamins and minerals and healthy fats. These healthy snacks are easy to prepare and good to eat:
Hydrate with water and nutritious beverages.
Water is the most essential nutrient of all. It's a vital part of the healthy living diet or any meal plan. Here's how to make sure you get enough:
Did you know that food is your body's main source of water? That's why thirst sometimes masquerades as hunger. Have a glass of water instead of reaching for food. That will save you hundreds of unneeded calories a day. Then, in 20 minutes, if you still feel hungry, have something to eat. Smoothies, green drinks, and juice also hydrates you, but not as quickly as water because they have to go through the digestive process first.
How to know if you need more water? Except for your first trip to the bathroom in the morning, urine should be light yellow. If urine is dark, you probably need more water. If it's clear, ease up.
When you primarily eat nutritious food and follow the suggestions in the healthy living diet, you will not need to take many supplements.
Food can be your medicine or your demise. It can keep you healthy, help you get well, or make you sick. The nutrient-rich foods on a healthy living diet will help your body heal and stay healthy.
In addition, certain foods, herbs, and spices can help you heal and improve specific conditions. For example, dill and fennel aid digestion. Turmeric and other spices quell inflammation. Cruciferous vegetables are recognized as superb for aiding your detoxification system and fighting cancer.
If you have physical wellness challenges, choose foods that are supportive for what ails you as part of your daily healthy living diet.
How you eat and prepare your food are important parts of the healthy living diet. Easy healthy eating habits and proper food preparation help you get the most benefit from the food and drink you put in your body.
Following the guidelines of the healthy living diet along with other healthy living habits will promote healing and a lifetime of good health.
The Healthy Living Diet page updated 12/2020Sources: Is the Mediterranean Diet the Best Diet on the Planet?