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Live healthily, eat smart

By DOREEN ZANDER health@algarveresident.com

HEALTHY EATING is about feeling great, having more energy, and keeping yourself as healthy as possible – all which can be achieved by learning some nutrition basics and incorporating them in a way that works for you.

Life is all about compromises. If you think you can ignore your bad eating habits just because you exercise regularly, think again. A mistake that many people make is thinking that if you burn off a lot of calories during exercise, you can eat whatever you want. Or, if you belong to those people who are ‘naturally’ thin you don’t have to watch what you eat. Unfortunately, trading an hour in the gym, for example, for a greasy double cheeseburger or relying on a good metabolism to take the place of healthy eating habits completely misses the point of living a healthy lifestyle.

The benefits of good nutrition are multiple. Besides helping you to maintain a healthy body weight, good nutrition is essential for the body and all its systems to function optimally for a lifetime. Though many benefits of good nutrition today may not be realised until later in life, one benefit we can see daily is in our energy level. Foods that are high in sugar or fats can reduce our energy levels from day to day. By eating a healthy diet, we maintain our energy levels to be constant throughout the day resulting in feeling better.

Healthy eating is an opportunity to expand your range of choices by trying foods—especially vegetables, whole grains, or fruits—that you don’t normally eat. Eating a well balanced diet begins with learning how to ‘eat smart’. It’s not just what you eat, but how you eat. Paying attention to what you eat and choosing foods that are both nourishing and enjoyable helps support an overall healthy diet.

Choose the types of foods that improve your health, like foods high in complex carbohydrates, fibre, vitamins and minerals, low in fat, and free of cholesterol, and avoid the types of foods that raise your risk for such illnesses as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

Expand your range of healthy choices to include a variety of delicious foods. Learn to use guidelines and tips for creating and maintaining a satisfying, healthy diet.

Strategies for a healthy diet

Maintain a balance between your calorie intake and calorie expenditure—that is, don’t eat more food than your body uses. The average recommended daily allowance is 2,000 calories, but this depends on your age, sex, height, weight, and physical activity. You can enjoy your favourite sweets and fried foods in moderation, as long as they are an occasional part of your overall healthy diet. Food is a great source of pleasure, and pleasure is good for the heart. As I mentioned at the beginning, a healthy diet improves your energy and feelings of well-being while reducing your risk of many diseases. Adding regular physical activity and exercise will make any healthy eating plan work even better.

When you examine all the benefits of good nutrition, you quickly realise that eating a healthy diet and making healthy food choices results in a much better lifestyle. Anyone can start enjoying the benefits of good nutrition now by changing one eating habit a week. You will be reaping the benefits of healthy eating before you know it!

If you found these tips helpful, here’s the most important advice of all: a healthy lifestyle begins with a healthy body. Don’t leave your health to chance. Get your appointment today to discuss diet issues and concerns.

Who would benefit?

Patients, for example, with weight problems, heart problems, diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Doreen Zander, BSc (Hons) in Nutrition, can be contacted at the Vale do Lobo Medical Centre, on (00351) 289 398 009. The first consultation is 45 minutes, please bring a seven day food and exercise diary if you can.