Good nutrition is one of the keys to a healthy life. You can improve your health by maintaining a balanced diet. You need to eat foods that contain vitamins and minerals. This includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy products and a source of protein.
Ask yourself the following questions. If you answer “yes” to any of them, talk to your doctor about your health. You may need to improve your eating habits for better nutrition:
- Do you have health problems or risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol?
- Did your doctor tell you that you can improve your condition with better nutrition?
- Are there any cases of diabetes, cancer, heart disease or osteoporosis in your family?
- Are you overweight?
- Do you have questions about what foods to eat or whether you should take vitamins?
- Do you eat a lot of processed foods and fast food?
- Do you think it would be useful to see a registered nutritionist or someone who specializes in nutrition counseling?
The road to better health
It can be difficult to change your eating habits. Focusing on small changes helps. Making changes to your diet can also be helpful if you have conditions that can be made worse by what you eat or drink. Symptoms of conditions such as kidney disease, lactose intolerance and celiac disease can benefit from dietary changes. Here are suggestions for improving your health. Remember to keep in touch with your doctor to know how you are.
- Find out the strengths and weaknesses of your current diet. Do you eat 4 to 5 cups of fruits and vegetables every day? Are you getting enough calcium? Do you eat whole foods high in fiber? If so, you are on the right track! Do not stop. If not, add more of these foods to your daily diet.
- Keep track of the food you eat by recording what you eat and drink each day. This record will help you evaluate your diet. You will see if you need to eat more or less of a certain food group.
- Consider asking a nutritionist for help. It can help you follow a special diet, especially if you have a health problem.
Almost anyone can benefit from reducing unhealthy fats. If you are currently eating a lot of fat, make a commitment to reduce and change your habits. Some unhealthy fats are: dark chicken; poultry skin; fatty cuts of pork, beef and lamb; and high-fat dairy products (whole milk, butter, cheese). Ways to reduce the intake of unhealthy fats include:
- Bake, grill or roast the meat instead of frying it. Remove the skin before cooking chicken or turkey. Eat fish at least once a week.
- Reduce excess fat. This includes the use of butter on bread, sour cream on baked potatoes and salad dressings. Use low-fat or non-fat versions of these foods.
- Eat lots of fruits and vegetables with your food and as snacks.
- Read nutrition labels on foods before you buy them. If you need help with labels, ask your doctor or dietitian.
- When eating out, keep in mind the hidden fats and large portions.
- Maintaining hydration is important for good health. Drink low-calorie or low-calorie beverages, such as water or tea. Sugar drinks add a lot of sugar and calories to your diet. This includes fruit juice, soft drinks, sports and energy drinks, sweetened or flavored milk and sweetened iced tea.
Aspects to be considered
A balanced diet and regular exercise are good for your health. These habits can help you lose weight or maintain your weight. Try to set realistic goals. You can make some of the small dietary changes mentioned above, or walk daily.
Doctors and nutritionists suggest that healthy eating habits become part of everyday life, rather than following fashionable diets. Nutrition tips and diets from a variety of sources can be misleading. Keep the following tips in mind and always consult your doctor first.
- Fashionable diets are not the answer. Whims or short-term diets can help you lose weight fast. However, they are difficult to follow and may not be healthy.
- Good nutrition does not come in the form of pills. Instead, try a variety of foods. Your body benefits more from healthy whole foods. Take only the vitamins prescribed by your doctor.
- Diet programs or products can confuse you with their claims. Most of the people in these ads get paid to promote the product. They do not mention side effects, problems or weight recovery.
Questions to ask your doctor
- How many servings should I eat from each food group?
- If I follow a strict diet, such as vegetarian or vegan, how can I improve my health?
- Are there any eating habits that I need to follow for my health problem?
American Academy of Family Physicians, Nutrition: Choosing Healthier Foods
Copyright © American Academy of Family Physicians
This information provides an overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and for more information on this topic.
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