Changing Your Diet for Health: Make It Work for You
Today, more than ever, large numbers of Americans suffer from preventable lifestyle diseases. As it becomes more of a problem, we are learning what the most effective ways are to mitigate these diseases. While there are all sorts of high-tech solutions out there, sometimes one of the simplest and most effective ones is a change in diet.
Health Problems in the U.S.
More and more, Americans are suffering from a host of dangerous health issues. Over 27 million have heart disease, and 29 million are managing diabetes. Nearly 40 percent of adults are obese, which is associated with these conditions, as well as a host of other issues.
We’re starting to understand that paying greater attention to our health habits can help us prevent these diseases. Americans are increasingly turning to mobile apps and wearable trackers to keep track of how active we are and other metrics. This technology can be motivating and cause us to be more mindful of our behavior, which is a big step in the right direction.
But as helpful as it is to track our daily movement, diet needs to be a piece of the puzzle too. Eating an excess of simple carbohydrates, like sugars and refined flour, has been linked to all of these health issues. Changes in diet can be a big part of the solution to these and many other conditions. And wouldn’t you rather go to the grocery store than the doctor?
Eating for Health
Foods high in sugar and fried in oil are unhealthy for your metabolism and other systems, which is why they lead to diabetes and heart disease. But eating too much of the wrong things can cause other problems too, like heartburn, which can lead to serious conditions like GERD. Fried foods like donuts and onion rings are some of the worst things you can eat for any of these conditions. Removing or limiting these can make a huge positive impact on your health.
Poor eating habits can also exacerbate cosmetic issues like premature aging and varicose veins. Luckily, many of the same dietary habits that help our digestive and cardiovascular systems also make us look better. Limiting processed flour and sugar is an important lifestyle change that can prevent varicose veins and slow the body’s aging process.
Finally, making changes to your diet can have big impacts on your mental health. Conditions like anxiety and depression are dramatically influenced by what we eat. Eating plenty of produce, avoiding processed carbohydrates, and limiting caffeine can all make you feel more serene and in control of your emotions.
Changing Your Diet vs. Being on a Diet
There’s a difference, however, between “being on a diet” and simply making changes in your diet. When we declare we’re “on a diet” or “going vegan” or “never going to eat sugar again,” we set ourselves up to fail, since nobody’s perfect. It’s hard to stick to a diet long term. On the other hand, it’s much more realistic to make small changes that are easier to live with, like swapping out soda for water a couple days a week.
Focusing on making changes to your diet, rather than a complete overhaul, makes it easier to succeed. Take it one small decision at a time. For instance, don’t try to commit to never eating fried food again, but next time you go out to eat, choose roasted chicken with vegetables instead of fish and chips.
Thinking in terms of small changes rather than being on a special diet also gives you the flexibility you need to get adequate nutrients. Oftentimes when people decide to go on a restricted diet, they end up deficient in nutrients from ruling out whole food groups. But if you continue eating a variety of healthy foods, you’ll make sure your body gets everything it needs.
Making changes in your diet is one of the most powerful tools you have in the fight against the lifestyle diseases that are becoming increasingly common in the United States. But it doesn’t mean you have to live on nothing but broccoli for the rest of your life. A balanced, healthy diet will keep your body and mind humming along smoothly.