Feeling good in your skin depends on so many factors, and one of them is nutrition. Your eating habits can improve your life significantly, and embracing good habits means that you will instantly feel better, inside and out.
It’s not solely a matter of losing weight, looking slim, or flaunting the best bikini body – eating healthily is a matter of avoiding potential health conditions, both physical and mental. If you feel like you’re in desperate need of a change in your eating habits, here are several tips that can invigorate your diet and promote your well-being.
1. The Rule That You Must Eat Breakfast Is Not Carved in Stone
Countless studies confirmed the importance of a healthy breakfast. By healthy, they primarily mean a meal that contains healthy fats, whole grains, lean meat, fresh fruits, and veggies. However, in recent years, a rising number of studies confirm quite the opposite – skipping breakfast is not as detrimental to our health as we thought. According to research published by BMJ Journal, the differences in weight gain and daily calorie intake between breakfast eaters and breakfast skippers were almost imperceptible, and it became obvious that “breakfast skippers did not compensate their energy intake later in the day.” (Sievert et al. 2007)
On the other hand, other studies focusing on the effects of breakfast-skipping on our mental health proved it might have an impact on our well-being by demonstrating that “eaters of good quality breakfasts [showed] lower levels of depression than eaters of poor or very poor quality breakfast.” (Ferrer-Cascales et al. 2018) As it turns out, you won’t gain any extra pounds if you skip breakfast, but you will be more susceptible to mood swings and depression.
2. Amp up the Fluids
Each and every cell in our bodies contains water. To be more precise, water makes up 50% – 60% of our entire body mass. In the face of this fact, it becomes rather obvious why we constantly need to replenish those fluids to stay healthy. Drinking enough water is pivotal for our health, particularly in childhood. Some foods, such as tomato or watermelon, contain as much as 85-95% water. Water is also a byproduct of the digestion process, but that accounts for only 10% of the amount we need.
You’ve probably heard that an average person should drink at least 50-68 ounces of water a day, but that depends on so many factors. If you exercise and sweat a lot, you will need to drink more than the mentioned amount. You can also get water from fresh juices, tea, and even coffee, but you have to keep in mind that caffeine and sugar contained in these beverages can be damaging when you overconsume. Caffeine acts as a diuretic, which means it depletes our bodies of the water we need. This is why caffeine intake should be limited to the greatest extent.
3. Spice It Up
Spices have always had an honorable place in traditional cuisines around the globe, some of them for their exquisite taste and some for fantastic health benefits, but it’s usually a combination of both. In the past few decades, studies have confirmed beyond any doubt that spices indeed have a favorable impact on our well-being. Spices are usually obtained from plants that have incredibly healthful chemicals known to play a role in reducing inflammation and other processes that damage the cells.
Today, you can find plenty of supplements on the market, such as oregano oil, ginger or turmeric capsules, and many others, but the truth is, you should make the effort to consume them in their most unrefined form. Add rosemary to your meals for better brain activity, ginger for its antioxidant properties, cumin for reducing cholesterol, turmeric for pain relief, and cocoa for a healthy heart.
4. Keep It Diverse
Mundane meals, day in day out, can be extremely detrimental to our health because our body gets depleted of other necessary nutrients, or conversely, oversaturated with those that are consumed too frequently. This doesn’t imply that you need to have Jamie Oliver cook for you five times a week so that you can have a balanced intake of all the nutrients you need, but you can make the change on your own. Too much red and processed meat is linked to an increased risk of cancer and cardiovascular diseases, while too little meat may lead to protein depletion. So, as far as meat is concerned, you shouldn’t consume more than 350-500 grams (12-17 oz.) three times a week.
Make the effort to eat green vegetables, preferably raw, as much as you can as they are a rich source of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. The same rules apply to fruit, although you have to be extra careful as it contains a lot of sugar – bananas, cherries, and mangos, in particular. As World Health Organization advocates, depending on your level of physical activity, age, sex, and general health, your recommended daily portion should comprise at least five portions (400 grams) of fruit and vegetables per day, excluding potatoes and other starchy roots, plus 2-3 servings of low-fat dairy, and 3-6 oz. (85 – 170 grams) of lean meats or fish a day (World Health Organization 2018).
Diversity also means you should include dietary fibers in your meals. In addition to fruits and veggies, whole-grain pasta, brown rice, sugar-free cereals, and whole-wheat bread are excellent sources of fiber. Fibers play a major role in maintaining the proper function of our gastrointestinal system, reducing the resorption of sugar, fats, and cholesterol.
5. Add Probiotics
Probiotics are tiny organisms that live in our intestines and have a paramount role in balancing our health – they maintain proper digestion and keep bad bacteria at bay, both of which boost our immune function. In addition, these microbes help create neurotransmitters and amino acids that affect the brain by controlling inflammation and hormone secretion.
Foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut (fermented cabbage), and miso (fermented soybeans) are extremely rich in probiotics, so you should add them to your daily nutrition routine as much as possible. They will increase the number of good intestinal bacteria while simultaneously improving your mood and general health.
6. Go for Gold
Three years ago, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) promoted a campaign called “Go for Gold”, which was aimed at raising awareness on the damaging effects of acrylamide – a possible carcinogen formed when food is exposed to high temperatures for an extended period of time. This primarily warned against roasting, frying, and any other form of food processing which scorches the food until it turns brown or dark brown. They encouraged consumers to refrain from overcooking the food and instead, abort the process as soon as the food turns golden, particularly when it’s starchy food you’re cooking.
Staying healthy by eating healthy is not about torturing yourself with diets and strict regimens. The trick is to keep everything in perfect balance and listen closely to the signals your body is giving you. Will and resolution will go a long way in making you feel good about yourself.
- Dietary Guidelines (United States Department of Agriculture)
- The Power of Spices
- The Difference between Portions and Servings