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Good Eating Habits - The Foundation Of A Healthy Lifestyle

By Toni Grundstrom

Good eating habits are the key for maintaining or improving your health no matter what demographic you fall in. Staying active plays a large role in overall health, but putting the wrong kind or wrong quantity of food in you body will keep you from being as healthy as you would like.

The best kind of eating habits you can develop are ones that allow you to enjoy what you eat (not a complete feel good diet however), but have a balanced and good diet that doesn't leave you getting too much of one thing and not enough of another. One nutrient that is commonly out of proportion is carbohydrates. Typically people in modernized western cultures have feel good diets that lead to a higher than necessary carb intake, which leads to those carbs being broken down and stored as fat. Carbs are essentially complex sugars, which are burned for energy, unless they are unneeded. Unfortunately most of the foods that taste the best are loaded with carbs. However, they are not altogether bad, but eating too many carbs can cause you to gain weight. Good eating habits and a good diet plan cause your carb intake to be balanced so that excess carbs are not being stored as fat and you actually feel good instead of having a completely carefree feel good diet.

A balanced diet that is the product of good eating habits will provide your body with the required amount of fat and cholesterol, even though many diets recommend avoiding these nutrients altogether. Oddly enough, fatty foods may be slightly better than food that is high in carbs since it takes more energy to break down fat than cholesterol. However, you do need some fat and cholesterol in your diet for your body to function properly.

Mix up your choices within each food group.

Focus on fruits. Eat a variety of fruits-whether fresh, frozen, canned, or dried-rather than fruit juice for most of your fruit choices. For a 2,000-calorie diet, you will need 2 cups of fruit each day (for example, 1 small banana, 1 large orange, and 1/4 cup of dried apricots or peaches).

Vary your veggies. Eat more dark green veggies, such as broccoli, kale, and other dark leafy greens; orange veggies, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and winter squash; and beans and peas, such as pinto beans, kidney beans, black beans, garbanzo beans, split peas, and lentils.

Get your calcium-rich foods. Get 3 cups of low-fat or fat-free milk-or an equivalent amount of low-fat yogurt and/or low-fat cheese (1 ounces of cheese equals 1 cup of milk)-every day. For kids aged 2 to 8, it's 2 cups of milk. If you don't or can't consume milk, choose lactose-free milk products and/or calcium-fortified foods and beverages.

Make half your grains whole. Eat at least 3 ounces of whole-grain cereals, breads, crackers, rice, or pasta every day. One ounce is about 1 slice of bread, 1 cup of breakfast cereal, or cup of cooked rice or pasta. Look to see that grains such as wheat, rice, oats, or corn are referred to as "whole" in the list of ingredients.

Go lean with protein. Choose lean meats and poultry. Bake it, broil it, or grill it. And vary your protein choices-with more fish, beans, peas, nuts, and seeds.

Know the limits on fats, salt, and sugars. Read the Nutrition Facts label on foods. Look for foods low in saturated fats and trans fats. Choose and prepare foods and beverages with little salt (sodium) and/or added sugars (caloric sweeteners).

Get the most nutrition out of your calories. - There is a right number of calories for you to eat each day. This number depends on your age, activity level, and whether you're trying to gain, maintain, or lose weight.* You could use up the entire amount on a few high-calorie items, but chances are you won't get the full range of vitamins and nutrients your body needs to be healthy. Choose the most nutritionally rich foods you can from each food group each day-those packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other nutrients but lower in calories. Pick foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products more often.

Maintaining good eating habits can be challenging, especially since it is difficult for most people to find time to prepare all their meals, and most quick meals or meals at restaurants, namely fast food, are not very healthy overall. However, being aware of what you are eating is the most important thing. Although it is not possible to eat correctly all the time, but as long as you keep good eating habits in mind, you will be much more likely to practice and benefit from them.

Toni Grundstrom is a Freelance Writer who writes about many interests and hobbies. Here is where you go for more tips and suggestions on proper exercising and eating for a healthy lifestyle.

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