Healthy eating begins with learning how to “eat smart”-it’s not just what you eat, but how you eat. Your food choices can reduce your risk of illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, as well as defend against depression. Additionally, learning the habits of healthy eating can boost your energy, sharpen your memory and stabilize your mood. You can expand your range of healthy food choices and learn how to plan ahead to create and maintain a satisfying, healthy diet year round.

Eat lots of vegetables and fruits. We recommend five to nine servings of vegetables and fruits a day. Sounds like a lot? Note that one small apple is one serving. Most fruits and vegetables are low-calorie foods and they’re among the most effective and important foods for health-building and disease-prevention.

Say yes to good fats. Unsaturated fats can not only help you lose weight, but can improve levels of cholesterol and other fat particles in the blood, strengthen the heart against dangerous erratic heartbeats, and fight the gradual clogging of the arteries. Fish oil, walnuts, almonds, wild salmon, tuna, are all examples of healthy fats.  Upgrade your carbohydrates. Instead of simply cutting carbs (which are essential to energy), shift from the refined, processed carbohydrates (such as white bread) and quickly digested starches (such as potatoes and white rice) to whole-grain, high-fiber foods (e.g., sprouted or whole-grain bread and grains such as wild brown rice, beans and other legumes). They’ll give you longer-lasting energy and lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Choose healthy proteins.  Eat more protein from vegetable sources such as beans and nuts – supplemented by fish and fowl – and less red meat and dairy products.

Sodas and Sugared Drinks – “Wasted” Calories. The “drink industry” makes a fortune selling consumers carbohydrates in the form of sodas, fruit drinks, fruit punch, “energy drinks,” and other liquid drinks. These are all mainly sugar solutions. Many contain large quantities of caffeine. Read labels.  Lifetime Health offers healthy protein bars and drinks if needed.

Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water, and avoid drinking empty calories, especially from sugared beverages.

Take a “quality’ multivitamin every day. These will not replace healthy eating, but can help provide some “nutrition insurance.”

Do not skip breakfast. It’s called “breakfast” for a reason. When you wake up, your blood sugar is at a “fasting level.” Breaking that fast gives you energy for the day ahead. Breakfast SHOULD NOT INCLUDE highly refined carbohydrates (including most fast foods, breakfast cereals, bagels, tacos, and breads) and foods with a lot of sugar (such as muffins, doughnuts, and pastries). Replace these foods with good fat (eggs, some cheese, nuts), some kind of fiber (a whole-grain food or slow cooked oatmeal), and/or a good dose of other protein. These foods release sugar into your bloodstream and will help sustain your energy level and concentration throughout the day.

Unless you are on the diet, eat only 3 meals per day and DO NOT SNACK during the day. This way of eating maximizes your fat burning time and minimizes your fat storage time.

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