With 2020 rocking us with all these undesirable turns in life, it’s easy to fall victim to overindulgence and stress eating. Don’t get me wrong, taking that chocolate bar once in a while isn’t a big issue, so you don’t have to be too hard on yourself when it comes to sticking to your diet. However, it becomes concerning when it starts to turn into unhealthy habits.
An article published by the Harvard Medical School explains that in the short-term, stress can signal our brain to release hormones that can suppress your appetite. However, persistent stress can signal your adrenal glands to release cortisol, a hormone that induces appetite and increases motivation―even our motivation to eat.
While stressful situations in our lives are unavoidable, its negative effects can be controlled by starting a regular healthy diet, which is a good start if you’re someone doing this for the first time. In this article, we discuss what a regular diet is all about and some tips you can follow to get started.
What is a Regular Diet?
Following a regular diet isn’t as basic as it sounds. It’s a balanced meal plan composed of a proportionate mix of the different food groups―starch, dairy, protein, fat, fruits, and vegetables. It’s far from common knowledge where we have to give up or deprive ourselves of certain foods to live a healthy lifestyle. On the contrary, we need the right amounts of each food group to receive the nutrients and vitamins we need to go about our day.
What these proportions are like would depend on your current health status, so it’s still best to consult an expert before following any diet trend you see on the internet. Here are some tips to get you started:
1. Watch your sugar intake.
When people say “sugar” we typically think of something sweet. This is certainly not the case. Sugar is a type of carbohydrate that gives us the energy we need to power us daily. It can come in the form of glucose (starch), sucrose (table sugar), fructose (fruits), or lactose (milk and dairy). That being said, we can find sugar in different sources such as rice, pasta, milk, bread, fruits, and yes, butter!
It is important to consume carbohydrates in sufficient amounts. However, with the prevalence of sugary products both processed and natural, it’s easy for us to get carried away. When we exercise or do work, the body tends to burn sugar first before it burns fat. When our body has too much sugar to burn, our fat gets stored instead and this leads to weight gain. This is why the keto diet can be effective for weight loss because as we reduce our sugar intake, we promote fat loss.
2. Load up on fiber
Now, this is a carbohydrate we can’t get enough of. To many people’s surprise, fiber is also a carbohydrate but unlike other carbs, it cannot be broken down into sugar molecules. It’s a plant-based nutrient that allows for easier digestion, regulates sugar levels, and weight management.
If you’re not convinced yet, you should know that fiber is essential to help clean out the toxins in our body and it’s recommended that we have it in every meal. Fiber is found in whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables.
Rice-lovers, we know what you’re thinking, and yes, rice is part of this group too. However, refined foods like white rice and bread have most of its fiber removed; hence, it’s best to stick to alternative options like brown rice or whole-wheat bread instead.
3. Eat less salt
When y.ou take a look at the nutrition facts label, you’ll realize that they don’t really indicate a product’s salt content. Instead, you should be on the lookout for its sodium content. Sodium is usually found in many processed foods in amounts that are beyond what our body needs. Much like sugar, it’s easy to get carried away with consuming excessive amounts of sodium. The Center for Disease Control recommends an intake of fewer than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day―the equivalent of 1 teaspoon of salt. Meanwhile, an adult can eat as much as 3,400 milligrams of sodium in a day, if not monitored closely.
4. Stay hydrated
As the saying goes, one should drink at least 8 glasses of water a day, which is equivalent to about 1.89 liters. New research shows that drinking too much water can also be dangerous as it can cause low blood sodium levels. One should also consider that water isn’t our only source of hydration. Foods like fruits and vegetables also aid in keeping us hydrated. Now, do you see the importance of balance in a diet?
All things considered, it’s important to listen to what your body needs. As obvious as it may sound, thirst is a good indication that you need water, but it’s a signal we tend to ignore. And nope, that sugary drink won’t keep you hydrated either.
5. Don’t skip a meal
Skipping a meal has been an age-old way of dieting yet when done incorrectly, it can do more harm than good. When we skip meals, our body would conserve energy by lowering its metabolism so that we have enough to get us through the day. By depriving ourselves of a meal, we end up overeating in the next one, and with our bodies burning fewer calories, this can result in, (you guessed it) weight gain.
Intermittent fasting differs inasmuch as the time you allot for eating. There are very few restrictions on the kind and amount of food you eat as long as you do it outside of your fasting period. Doing this boosts your metabolism and allows you to burn more calories in a day.
Another method of maintaining a healthy diet without skipping a meal is to stick to a calorie deficit. This is where you consume less than the required amount of calories but just enough for your body to continue its daily functions. Determining the number of calories you consume and burn can help either maintain or lose weight.
There is no formula to the perfect diet
It’s important to note that there is no cookie-cutter diet that works for everyone. The proportions that you need for each diet are dependent on what your body needs and what you can handle. While it’s certainly up to you to experiment on what works best, it’s still ideal to consult a dietician or nutritionist, especially when you have a disease with dietary restrictions. Finally, don’t forget to support your diet with sufficient hours of sleep and proper exercise.
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