10 Rules of Healthy Eating from a Nutritionist: New Update


10 Rules of Healthy Eating from a Nutritionist: New Update

There are many myths and misconceptions when it comes to healthy eating. It doesn't help that new – and often conflicting – dietary recommendations appear every day. But the basic principles of proper eating have not changed.

As a nutritionist, I try to clear up the confusion people often have about how to eat properly.


Here are the 10 Rules of Healthy Eating from a Nutritionist


• Fill your Plate with Vegetables

Even the USDA has ditched its confusing food pyramid in favor of a simpler "healthy plate" chart. To create a healthy plate, fill half of your plate with vegetables – no, potatoes don't count! Choose "crunchy" vegetables like broccoli, green beans, Brussels sprouts, and leafy greens like kale and Swiss chard. On the other side of the plate, place a whole grain or legume in one quarter and a healthy lean protein on the other side.


• Eat a Balanced Breakfast

You've heard it before, and it's true: breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Eating a healthy breakfast is absolutely essential to help boost your metabolism, improve your cognitive function, and help you make better food choices throughout the day. An ideal meal includes protein, healthy fats and some complex carbohydrates.


• Do not Starve Yourself

This strategy is not only unhealthy, but almost always counterproductive. If you don't eat enough calories during the day, you're more likely to overeat in the evening. If you focus on dieting throughout the day, you will overeat later. Instead of sitting down to a healthy dinner, you're more likely to reward yourself for being "good" all day by eating a calorie bomb like a pint of ice cream or a piece of cake.


• Ask Questions when Eating Out

Menus can be very deceiving, and even healthy-sounding dishes can be slathered in butter or thick sauces. Don't be afraid to take responsibility. Ask for details about the cooking, ask for sauces and seasonings, and make sure the server knows you're looking for simple, healthy options.


• Make a Plan when you go to the Grocery Store

You know it's a bad idea to go to the store when you're hungry, but that's not the only key to smart shopping. The biggest mistake people make is not knowing what they need and looking for inspiration in the aisles. As a result, people buy more packaged foods and less fresh, whole foods. Make a list based on the recipes you plan to cook this week, then focus your shopping on the perimeter of the store where fresh produce, dairy, meat and fish are located.


• Reduce your Intake of Processed Foods

Not all packaged or prepared foods are bad for you, but you should read nutrition labels carefully to make an informed choice. Ideally, you should choose healthier, easier-to-prepare nutritious options like frozen vegetables and canned beans, and avoid packaged foods that contain preservatives, hidden sources of fat, and too much sugar and sodium.


• Limit Sodium and Sugar Intake

Putting down the salt shaker and not adding sugar to your coffee is a step in the right direction, but most people don't get most of their salt and sugar. From pasta sauce and macaroni and cheese to rice and soup, most packaged foods are high in sodium and sugar. Start by checking the nutrition label on breakfast cereals (some contain up to 20 grams of sugar per serving!). Here's a quick tip: divide the grams of sugar by 4 to get teaspoons. Would you really put 5 teaspoons of sugar in a bowl of cereal?


• Don't just Count Calories

Not all calories are created equal. When people eat a 100-calorie bag of cookies or other snack food, they focus on the 100 calories in it, but don't pay attention to what else they're consuming, especially sugar and fat. A better approach: Focus on healthy, nutrient-dense foods that are naturally low in calories and high in important vitamins, minerals and fiber.


• Switch to Whole Grains

When it comes to carbs, brown is better. Whole grain foods (such as whole grains, brown rice, and oatmeal) contain more nutrients and fiber than processed white foods. These complex carbohydrates are not only healthier (higher fiber intake is linked to a lower risk of diabetes and heart disease), but they also help you feel fuller for longer. So instead of avoiding carbs to lose weight, start by replacing white carbs with whole grains.


• Enjoy your Food

It may sound obvious, but many people think that healthy eating and pleasure are mutually exclusive. Pretend you've never heard of the word "diet." Instead, work on building a lifestyle based on healthy choices that will work in the long run. To achieve this, find nutritious foods that you enjoy eating. Food should be something you like and something that nourishes you. It's not just fuel.

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