You can run, lift, swim and do sit-ups all day, but you will never see the fitness results you desire until you stop eating the 5,000 calorie fast food meals. Consuming a greasy bacon cheddar burger, large French fry and chocolate shake every day is not good for anyone, whether you are working out or not. To see progress, in the weight you are lifting or the pounds you are losing, you need to eat healthy, balanced meals, consisting of foods from all of the five major food groups.
Fruits and vegetables are the foundation of a healthy diet. They are low in calories and nutrient dense, which means they are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. Try to eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables every day and with every meal. To satisfy your hunger while keeping the calorie count low, aim to fill at least half your plate with vegetables. The brighter, the fresher, the better!
According to the Food Pyramid, it is suggested that everyone eat 3-5 servings of vegetables every day. Eating a variety of vegetables is recommended, as they all provide similar but different health benefits. For example, instead of your go-to iceberg lettuce salad, branch out and try kale, mustard greens, broccoli or Chinese cabbage as the bulk ingredient, options which are packed with calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, zinc, and vitamins A, C, E and K.
As a child, we all heard our parents say “eat your vegetables, they are good for you!” Well, as research now shows, this was good advice. Take a look at the Pro’s and Con’s for vegetables, as they relate to your health:
- Reduces chances of heart attack
- Reduces chances of stroke
- Protects against certain types of cancer
- Reduces risk of obesity
- Reduces risk of type-2 diabetes
- Lowers blood pressure
- Reduces risk of kidney stones
- Decrease bone loss
- Keeps eyes, skin, gums and teeth healthy
- Protects against infection
- Heals cuts and wounds
Do you have a sweet tooth? Desserts, soft drinks and other sugars can be eaten, but in moderation. These foods are full of calories, little of which are nutritionally valuable.
Instead of gorging on a handful of candies in one sitting, try fulfilling your sweet tooth with sweet vegetables throughout the day.
Naturally sweet vegetables such as corn, carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, yams, onions, and squash add healthy sweetness to your meals and reduce your cravings for other sweets.