One of the most frequently cited reasons that diets and attempts at healthy eating fail is boredom. Many people simply do not know how to keep a healthy diet interesting day after day, and it can be quite a challenge. Yet there is a huge variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, meats and other healthy foods at the local shops and supermarket. It is definitely possible to create exciting, nutritious meals that will keep boredom at bay.
The key to the success in any plan for healthy eating is to eat what you like, but to exercise moderation when it comes to the less healthy foods. Everything in moderation as the saying goes. Improving your level of health and fitness does not mean forgoing that piece of chocolate for instance. It does mean, however, limiting yourself to one or two squares and then putting it away for another day. A healthy diet contains all types of foods, including carbohydrates, proteins, and even fats. The key is choosing foods that provide the best combination of taste and nutrition. After all, if your diet consists of foods you hate, you will not stick with it.
There are five major food groups – grains, vegetables, fruits, milk and dairy, and meat and legumes. When choosing foods from these groups, it is important to eat a wide variety of foods from every food group. Doing so will not only give you a great deal of variety and keep boredom from setting in, but it will provide the best nutritional balance as well. In addition the widely known micronutrients, such as vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin C, etc. all foods contain a variety of macronutrients, like fats, proteins, fiber and water. Though present in extremely tiny amounts, the micronutrients are vitally important to good health. That is why a healthy, varied diet is so important.
In addition, when choosing foods from within the various food groups, some choices are naturally better and healthier than others. For instance, choosing skim or 2% milk instead of full fat whole milk is a good way to cut down on both fat and calories if you need to lose weight. And choosing poultry or lean meat is a great way to get the protein you need every day without extra fat, cholesterol and calories.
Likewise cereals and breads that carry the whole grain label are healthier than those that do not. Even in the world of fruits and vegetables some choices are better than others. For instance, peaches packed in heavy syrup add unnecessary sugar to the diet, while those packed in water or juice provide only good nutrition, though it is even better if you eat the fresh peach.
There has been a trend lately to add vitamin fortification to food, and this can sometimes be a good way to maximize nutrition. It is important to remember, however, that proper nutrition comes from a healthy diet, not from vitamin supplements. It is fine to buy calcium fortified cereal, but the bulk of your calcium intake should still come from milk, dairy products and green leafy vegetables.
Knowing the five major food groups and how much of each to eat every day is only part of the picture. The other part is choosing the best foods from within those food groups. That means things like choosing the best quality meat and organic if possible. Choosing the freshest fruits and vegetables, and again organic if possible.
Even with fruits and vegetables, some choices are better than others. Some fruits, such as avocados, for instance, are packed with fat and calories. It is important to check the nutritional qualities of the fruits and vegetables you buy, and not simply assume that all fruits and vegetables are equally healthy.
One way to maximize nutrition while minimizing cost is to buy fruits and vegetables that are in season. Fruits and vegetables that are in season are usually quite a bit cheaper than those that must be shipped hundreds or even thousands of miles, and they are generally much fresher too. They also contain a better supply of nutrients since they have not been stored for long periods and have probably ripened more fully before picking.
So variety is the spice of life and variety is the key to good nutrition. You can find out more about a nutrition diet and my suggestions on adding variety to your meals in my book The Nutrition Diet and Recipe Book which is available for FREE download at www.obooko.com (under the heading Health and Self Improvement).