What are the rules of healthy eating according to modern dietetics? Eat regularly, choose the least processed products, eat as many vegetables as possible, and fruit in two portions a day, limit your carbohydrate intake – these are the most important dietary recommendations for healthy eating.
Healthy eating in the minds of most people is a low-fat diet, without pork, sweets and white bread. But is it enough to be healthy and prevent diseases of civilization? And above all – is this the right approach? Progress in the field of nutrition sciences is very fast, and new knowledge reaches universities that educate dieticians with a delay of at least a decade. This means that in practice you need to be up to date with scientific research, look for yourself and test whether the new guidelines work. The big advancement in official recommendations is the exclusion of carbohydrates as the basic ingredient of a balanced diet and their replacement with vegetables in the Healthy Nutrition Pyramid published in 2016 by the Food and Nutrition Institute. However, the importance of cholesterol in increasing the risk of heart disease is still overestimated, as if ignoring the new scientific reports.
Healthy eating must be individual and mean something different to everyone. A person with insulin resistance has to eat differently than autoimmune diseases. Unfortunately, sometimes it turns out that even products widely considered healthy can be harmful to some groups of people. That is why it is so important to observe your body, listen to its reaction to food intake and try to choose the best diet for yourself, not just a good one.
1. Eat regularly
Regular meals are conducive to delivering the right amount of energy during the day, positively affect the well-being, concentration and maintenance of appropriate body weight. It’s best to eat between 3 and 5 meals a day. If the meals are more substantial, breakfast, lunch and dinner are sufficient. When smaller meals are preferred, one or two snacks should be added throughout the day. For optimal health and a slim figure, it is important not to snack or replace meals with several snacks a day. This promotes overeating, choosing worthless food and has a negative effect on metabolism. Optimal meal times are breakfast up to an hour after waking up, lunch in the middle of the day, at the time of the greatest activity and dinner 2-3 hours before bedtime.
2. Choose the least processed products
Any dietitian will agree with this statement, regardless of their approach. The higher the degree of food processing, the farther from nature, the worse for health. All powdered foods, fast food, ready meals and products with a long list of ingredients should not appear in a healthy diet. Man-made food additives have not been thoroughly tested and it is not known what long-term health effects their use will bring. They can be recognized by the body as a foreign body and cause a reaction of the immune system and affect the microflora of the body and the state of the intestines. A typical Western diet is reflected in the condition of the stomach, intestines, pancreas and liver, and the kidneys, which must filter and excrete all chemical additives. A healthy diet is a menu consisting of products close to nature, unprocessed, with a short composition and known origin.
3. Base on vegetables
Vegetables should form the basis of any healthy diet. They are a source of vitamins and minerals, antioxidants and fibre. Their selection can be individual depending on possible diseases, but generally vegetables are the healthiest group of food products. It is best if they are raw, but baked, steamed and in a small amount of water are also a valuable element of the menu. Although on one floor of the pyramid of healthy eating vegetables and fruits are put together, it is recommended that vegetables constitute ¾ of the daily portion and fruits ¼.
4. Eat fruit in up to two portions a day
It is best to eat fruit for one meal per day. In the second, they can be an addition. There should not be more than 200-300 g per day. Why? Fruits are source of simple sugars. Despite the content of vitamins and fibre, they must not be eaten too much, because they promote insulin bursts and fluctuations in blood glucose levels, and such conditions have numerous health consequences. Fruit, unlike vegetables, is not an unpunished snack. Their uncontrolled snacking promotes weight gain and accumulation of abdominal fat, and consequently metabolic diseases.
5. Limit carbohydrate intake, increase fat intake
For decades, carbohydrates in the form of cereal products have been propagated as the most important element of a healthy diet and an essential source of energy. However, nowadays, when we have little physical activity, we sit a lot and walk a little, carbohydrates at each meal are not a necessity, and even unnecessary. The need for carbohydrates increases with increasing physical activity, so they are recommended to people who work hard or train a lot. In other cases, it is enough to add carbohydrates in two meals. By limiting carbohydrates, you need to replace them with another energy component, i.e. fat. Remember that it is mainly not fat, but excess carbohydrates. Reducing the number of carbohydrates in favour of healthy fats reduces the fluctuation of insulin during the day, which results in higher energy levels, greater satiety, no hunger attacks, reduced snacking and better body composition.