Are you feeling overwhelmed by all the conflicting nutrition and diet advice out there? You have lots of company. For every expert who tells you to eat a certain food because it’s good for you, another is saying the exact opposite. Look, we all know that eating right can help you maintain a healthy weight and avoid certain health problems, right? But did you know your diet can also have a huge effect on your mood and sense of well-being?
Studies have shown that eating a typical Western diet consisting of red and processed meats, packaged meals, fast food, junk food, and sugary snacks have a direct connection to higher rates of depression, stress, with higher rates of stress, depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety. The development of mental health disorders such as ADHD, Alzheimer’s disease, and schizophrenia, or in the increased risk of suicide in young people may also be linked to eating an unhealthy diet.
Eating more fruits and vegetables, reducing your fat and sugar intake, even cooking meals at home may help to improve your mood. Preparing more meals at home will be able to help you control what you are eating and better track what goes into your food.
When you first start out, simplify. Don’t try and do everything all at once. Avoid packaged and processed foods and instead choose fresh ingredients.
Read the labels! Food manufacturers love to hide large amounts of sugar and salt in their food products. Be a savvy shopper and don’t be fooled, especially by food that claim to be “healthy.” There are literally dozens of names for sugar. Some are agave nectar (also known as agave syrup), barley malt, beet sugar, blackstrap molasses, brown sugar, corn syrup, fructose, fruit juice concentrates, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, maltose, powdered sugar, and sucrose. These are only a few. We’ll be learning more names in other posts as well the negative effect of sugar and health.
Deeply colored fruits and vegetables contain higher concentrations of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants so it is important to eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables daily. Instead of eating processed snack foods, try adding berries to breakfast cereals, make fruit your desert and snack on vegetables such as snow peas, cherry tomatoes or carrots.
Learning to eat healthy is a process and it won’t happen overnight. One of the easiest and most important things to remember is: when you feel full, stop eating. You don’t have to clean your plate. That guilt was embedded in us as kids and is one of the major reasons we overeat. Eating everything on your plate will have no effect on the starving children around the world.
Eating in front of the TV or computer often leads to unconscious overeating, so try and eat with others whenever possible. This will also enable you to model healthy eating habits for the kiddos.