A healthy diet, combined with an active lifestyle, is essential for maintaining a good state of well-being and health. To live for a long time in a strong and healthy body, it is not necessary to follow drastic dietary regimes, give up the pleasure of eating and conviviality, or undergo exhausting sports training sessions; on the contrary, it is sufficient to know and follow a few simple ones throughout your life that guarantee a healthy and balanced diet and always keeping physically active. There are ten simple recommendations that, if followed daily, make correct nutrition a faithful ally. Let’s see them together!
Always Stay Active And Monitor Your Weight
Excess weight represents a health risk as it increases the likelihood of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, hypertension, some types of cancer, and other chronic diseases such as osteoarticular diseases. Accumulating visceral fat, particularly in the abdominal area, is associated with a higher level of risk. For these reasons, it is essential to check your body weight periodically. There is no need to weigh yourself every day, but stepping on the scale now and then will make us notice any weight changes promptly and will, therefore, allow us to intervene.
Don’t be afraid, and get on the home scale at least once a month. It doesn’t matter if it’s super precise; the important thing is to monitor the difference in weight over time. If you realize you are overweight (BMI = weight in kg/h in cm > 24.9), consult your doctor to carry out the appropriate diagnostic tests, and if necessary, get help from a dietician to report your weight in a manner that is gradual to normal. In any case, reduce your “income” by favoring foods with lower energy density and high satiating power, such as fruit, vegetables, whole grains, etc., and increase your “expenses” by carrying out more physical activity.
Avoid drastic “do it yourself” diets, long periods of fasting, or the exclusion of food groups without proven medical reasons. You would risk nutritional imbalances potentially harmful to your health; instead, try to balance the nutrients and distribute them throughout the day by having the famous three main meals plus two snacks. Remember: To permanently solve the problem. You must change your eating habits and lifestyle forever; it is better to have a few targeted changes maintained over time than rigid patterns followed for short periods!
Get used to moving every day: walk more (for example, try to avoid using the car for short journeys, get off the bus or metro one stop earlier, even go out several times a day with your pet and include at least 3–4 planned walks per week), use the bicycle, go up and down the stairs, avoid using the lift, personally take care of small household tasks (e.g., cleaning, gardening), practice a sporting activity that makes you feel good. The guidelines emphasize that at least 2 hours and a half of moderate exercise spread over the week or 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous exercise divided into sessions of at least 10 minutes at a time are necessary, plus two weekly sessions of strengthening the main muscle groups. But also remember to get adequate rest.
Vary Your Diet By Always Choosing Quality Products, Possibly Local And Seasonal
Vary your food choices as much as possible to introduce all the nutrients and beneficial substances your body needs, but also to reduce the risk of continuously ingesting toxic or unwanted substances. The Union has established exact limits for pesticide residues in foods, and controls to verify the suitability of food products, both of animal and vegetable origin, are continuous and numerous, so much so that the guidelines tell us that often the consumer concern about exposure to pesticides is excessive compared to the actual risk.
However, varying your choices will allow you to change your exposure, albeit minimal, to unwanted substances; whenever possible, favor the consumption of products from organic farming to lower the risk further. If you have the possibility of self-producing fruit and vegetables, pay attention to any pesticides used. Always carefully follow the instructions on doses, treatment, and suspension times. In general, people prefer fresh, seasonal, and locally produced products because they are richer in active ingredients and nutrients, much tastier than first fruits or products grown in greenhouses, generally less treated with pesticides, and have lower quantities of nitrates.
Drink Plenty Of Water Every Day
Water is the fundamental component of the human organism and represents approximately 60% of the body weight of a man and 50% of the importance of a healthy woman; its presence is essential for carrying out all the physiological processes and biochemical reactions that occur in our body. For this reason, it is essential always to satisfy the sense of thirst and indeed anticipate it by drinking at least 1.5–2 liters of water a day (8–10 glasses); during the day, drink frequently in small quantities even if you don’t feel thirsty, choosing both tap and bottled water, even carbonated water if you prefer it.
Don’t be afraid of gaining weight since water doesn’t bring calories nor worsen water retention (this can be linked to specific pathologies and excess salt, but not to the water introduced); finally, remember that the calcium present in water does not favor the formation of kidney stones; indeed, if you are predisposed to this type of disorder, you must drink abundantly and repeatedly throughout the day.
More Fruit And More Vegetables
The consumption of fruits and vegetables represents an essential protective factor both against overweight and chronic degenerative diseases. Fruit and vegetables are foods with low energy density; therefore, they provide few calories and help us achieve and maintain a good level of satiety over time; they provide dietary fiber helpful in ensuring good intestinal function, vitamins and minerals, as well as bioactive molecules, i.e., minor compounds with a potent anti-inflammatory and anti-ageing action.
How much to consume? Generally speaking, the more we consume, the better, always respecting the nutritional balance of the diet, in which all foods must be represented. The minimum objective is five daily portions, divided into two vegetables (consumed out of habit at lunch and dinner) and three fruits (with main meals or as a snack). Therefore, concentrate on consuming more fresh vegetables and fruit daily, taking care not to overdo it by adding oils, other fats, sugar, and salt. An excellent new seasonal product is also good as it is!
Who said you couldn’t have a little vegetable as a snack? A handful of juicy cherry tomatoes, some raw carrots, or a bit of fennel—don’t just eat it with your main meals, but also include it as a snack. Vegetables can be a hydrating hunger buster. Choose fruit and vegetables of different colors, favoring seasonal, tastier, and cheaper products. By varying the color, you will ensure all the nutrients you need; for example, by consuming red fruits and vegetables, you will take in lycopene; by introducing orange colors (carrots, apricots, peaches, pumpkin), you will ensure beta-carotene; and with dark green leafy vegetables, you will fill up on folate, iron, calcium, etc.
In general, they get used to alternating cooked vegetables with raw ones and prefer “chopped” fruit rather than juice extracts and extracts, which, having less fiber, have less satiating power. It is not true that fruit at meals is bad for you; for some people, it can even be positive since the vitamin C present in it improves the absorption of iron from vegetables because it cleanses the mucosa of the mouth and teeth and can represent a pleasant end to a meal that is sweet and not excessively caloric.
Remember also to introduce a portion of dried fruit in its shell every day; consuming it will be very simple! Introduce it at breakfast also in the form of dried fruit butter spread on a slice of bread or pancakes; use it if you prefer as a snack, for example, in combination with fruit; or enrich your dishes by creating tasty pesto, crunchy salads, or super tasty breadings. With just 30 g per day (corresponding to 6 walnuts, 15/20 almonds, hazelnuts, etc.), you will ensure a good intake of good fats, omega-3, fiber, folic acid, iron, and calcium! Remember not to exceed the quantities and to consume natural products, not excessively, to increase your calorie and fat intake.
Cereals: The Basis Of Your Diet—Better If Whole Grain!
The large family of cereals includes wheat, rice or barley spelt, millet sorghum, oats, and rye. Pseudocereals (buckwheat, amaranth, and quinoa) are also part of this group of foods, as are all products prepared with flour derived from them, such as bread, pasta, etc. These foods have always played a fundamental role in human nutrition, being the optimal fuel for our body, and the guidelines recommend that 50–60% of the energy is obtained from their introduction.
For these reasons, remember to consume cereals (in grain, puffed, or flaked form), bread, and pasta (better if wholemeal) at every main meal, avoiding adding too many fat-rich condiments if you have small children (under three years old) who prefer refined products. By choosing wholemeal products, you will not reduce your calorie intake, but the fiber introduced will help you feel fuller and longer. Having said that, if for reasons of taste or gastrointestinal pathologies, you have to consume refined products, don’t worry; they don’t “cause cancer” or “cause diabetes”; they are simply products with less fiber!
Try to vary the type of cereal: if you don’t like grain cereals, you can do so by using puffed minor cereals or flakes for breakfast (e.g., quinoa or puffed millet, oat or rye flakes), choosing bread prepared from different flours (e.g., multigrain, spelt, rye), or alternating the classic wheat pasta with spelt pasta, buckwheat, polenta, spelt, or barley couscous. Avoid excluding gluten a priori without a medical diagnosis: gluten-free products are not lighter or slimmer, and the gluten-free diet is the specific therapy for celiac disease, not a dietary trend. You will not benefit from its exclusion if you are healthy!
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