Healthy Eating Habits For Everyone

Tuesday, October 24, 2006 - 2:55pm

By Wendy Hodsdon, ND

Eating well is one of the best things you can do to maintain and increase your health. The question is: What exactly is “eating well”? There are so many contradictory messages about what constitutes a good diet that sometimes it seems impossible to decide what to eat. The truth is, different diets work for different people.

Healthy eating guidelines

Even though an ideal diet is customized to your body’s individual needs, there are some general healthy eating suggestions that are likely to benefit everyone. Here are some tips to follow at mealtime:

  • Make the food you eat count. Make sure every bite of food you put into your mouth is full of nutrients that your body can use to live and heal.
  • Eat slowly. Take time before each meal to acknowledge that you are starting the process of eating and digesting. By taking this time, your body will be able to digest the food you eat better and absorb more nutrients.
  • Avoid drinking too much water. It is widely believed that water dilutes digestive enzymes and cools the digestive fire. Refrain from drinking copious amounts at meals.
  • Chew your food. Chew food thoroughly to kick-start digestive enzymes. Taste each bite.
  • Eat at regular intervals and on a regular schedule. A regular eating schedule supports the hormonal system and aids in digestion.

Healthy food choices

  • Eat organic foods when possible. If it is difficult to buy all organic foods, make sure to buy organic meat, dairy, and eggs. These foods concentrate pesticides in the fat, making organic choices best.
  • Eat “whole” foods. Whole foods are non-processed foods, which means they have no added ingredients. Whole foods include vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans.
  • Read ingredient labels. Avoid consuming food with added chemicals. By doing this, you’ll reduce the toxins in your body and help it to function better. You’ll also reduce your chances of developing an allergic reaction to a specific food.
  • Eat a variety of naturally colorful foods. Colorful foods are packed with vitamins and bioflavonoids, which impart their naturally bright colors.
  • Avoid known toxins and difficult-to-digest foods. This includes caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and drugs. These foods are difficult for the liver to digest and often cause adverse reactions.

For more information on colorful foods and their health benefits see the following article from TheDietChannel: Prevent Cancer & Heart Disease with Phytochemicals.

Specific food recommendations

  • Drink plenty of clean water. One way to calculate how much water to drink is to consume at least half your body weight in ounces. If you weigh 150 pounds, drink 75 ounces of water per day. While this suggestion does not apply to everyone, most people benefit from drinking fresh, clean water and decreasing beverages with sugar, chemicals or caffeine.
  • Control food proportions on your dinner place. Ideally, one quarter of your dinner plate should be filled with protein-rich foods, one half or more of the plate should be filled with non-starchy vegetables, and one quarter or less should be filled with carbohydrates or fruit. These proportions ensure you’re getting plenty of nutrient-rich vegetables and fiber at every meal. While this suggestion is not the best solution for everyone, many people benefit from increasing their non-starchy vegetable intake and decreasing their meat and carbohydrate consumption.