Assessing Your Diet for Better Overall Health

Guest Post by Paige Johnson

A lot of people are under the impression that if you exercise, you can eat whatever you want. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. In reality, good nutrition is the foundation for a healthy body. By eating a well-balanced diet and connecting it with regular exercise is, you then have the perfect combination of a healthy lifestyle. But how do you know if you’re eating right?

The number one thing you can do to improve your overall well-being – both your physical health and your mental health – is to practice healthy eating. Before medications, therapies, surgery, or any other measures, you should first take stock of your diet and determine how you can change it to improve your wellness. Here are some common dietary problems and how you can fix them.

Problem: You’re drinking your calories

Solution: Go all water all the time

Think about how many calories you drink in a day. It’s hard to calculate, isn’t it? That’s because we don’t really think about drinking the same way we do eating. These calories – and oftentimes all that excess sugar – are calories that are out of sight, out of mind.

“When people eat calories in the form of solid food, they naturally compensate by reducing the rest of their food intake. But when people ingest liquid calories, they don’t compensate for them by eating fewer calories, studies show,” says LiveScience.

What you can do is just drink water. Replace your sodas, teas, coffee, beer, and juices with water. Not only will you be more properly hydrated, but you’ll cut back on hundreds of sugar-based calories that are associated with weight gain, diabetes, and other health problems.

Problem: You’re eating too much red meat

Solution: Eat more fish, beans, and lean poultry

There is no conclusive evidence that links red meat consumption to increased risk of mortality, but there are plenty of studies that suggest ties between eating too much red meat and certain health problems. While some red meat is perfectly fine, there are plenty of reasons to replace some of your red meat dinners with fish, beans, and lean poultry.

Fish in particular boasts a variety of benefits – from low caloric value to the presence of essential nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids. These compounds have been shown to boost brain health. If you’re looking to treat your depression, anxiety, or other mental concerns through diet, increasing your salmon intake is always a good idea.

Problem: You’re eating too much

Solution: Think plates, portion control, and snacks

The medical problem that negatively affects nearly every part of your body – from head to toe – is obesity. Losing weight is the number one way to reduce the magnitude of chronic pain, prevent diseases like diabetes, colorectal cancer, and heart disease. Part of the obesity crisis involves what we eat, but another major part of it is how much we eat.

If you’re having trouble with portion control during mealtime, you might want to try some simple tricks to fool your mind into being satisfied with less. First, eat off smaller plates. We are trained to want to finish our plates, and if we start with smaller portions we will be less likely to get up and grab seconds. It’s also important that you don’t deny yourself snacks when you’re hungry. By consuming healthy snacks, we can prevent the gorging on calorie dense foods at designated meal times. And be sure to chew slowly whenever you are eating, this can help connect your mind to your stomach so that you don’t overeat.

Problem: You’re an unhealthy snacker

Solution: Learn to be prepared at all times

If you’re hungry and you have nothing healthy prepared for snacks, you’ll likely grab whatever is closest and easiest – and this isn’t always likely to be a very healthy choice. The key to healthy snacking is to always be prepared. You should keep healthy snacks like nuts, fruit, and yogurt at work, in your car, and anywhere you might feel famished throughout your day. Take 30 minutes before the start of your work week to do some food prep and parcel out snacks for the week.
Then they are ready to go when you are!

It’s important to recognize that healthy eating doesn’t have to be about deprivation and eating plain chicken breasts all the time. There are a wealth of resources out there with great recipes and ideas for making changes to your diet. And if you allow yourself indulgences in moderation, you are more likely to stick with a healthy eating plan. With a few tweaks to your diet and doing a little homework, you can be on your way down the healthier path of life