Food for thought: What is a healthy diet?

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Healthy diets have been proven to aid everything from weight loss to cancer treatment, while unhealthy diets have been linked to everything from ADHD to diabetes.

What most people think of when they hear the term “healthy diet” is low fat and low sugar. The new train of thought making its way into the mainstream is “simple ingredients, real food”. It has become the norm to look at nutrition labels to check the calories, fat, and sugar content of food; but we also need to check the ingredient list for artificial ingredients. If an item has a gazillion ingredients, half of which you can’t pronounce, IT’S NOT REAL FOOD! Granted, you may not be able to pronounce half the chemicals that make up a pear either, but pears are real food – “pear flavour” is not.

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Everything that you eat or drink either nourishes your body or harms it. Now that doesn’t mean that if you eat a doughnut you’re going to die. If you’re otherwise healthy, and you eat healthy most of the time, an occasional treat here or there won’t be the end of the world. The “good chemicals” in the abundant healthy food you eat will counteract the few “bad chemicals” you consume.

However, a lot of people don’t seem to understand the meaning of occasional.

A slice of cake once a week is occasional. A couple of cookies and an unhealthy muffin every single day is NOT occasional.

A drive-through meal once a month or so is occasional. A Big Mac combo meal a couple of times a week is NOT occasional.

A good tip for eating a healthy diet is not keeping unhealthy food in your house. When you’re really hungry and need a quick fix, you are more likely to grab something unhealthy if it is available. So simply don’t make it available at home. This will also force your kids to eat healthy snacks instead of junk food every day. Make sure you have lots of cut-up fruits and veggies in your fridge so the whole family can munch on something healthy in between meals.

Also, don’t go grocery shopping on an empty stomach, otherwise you’ll have an even harder time resisting all the convenient junk food on the shelves. I know when I’m really hungry I want to eat whatever is in sight, so I do my grocery shopping after having a meal or snack.

If you have a sweet tooth (✋☺️) and just can’t resist eating sweets, bake your own instead of eating store-bought pastries. That way there are no artificial flavours, colors or preservatives, and you can make “healthy” sweets by substituting all purpose flour with whole wheat or spelt, and replacing refined sugar with other sweeteners like honey or maple syrup.

The next time you eat something processed ask yourself, “is this real food?”

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