Healthy eating and healthful way of life are important to how we look, feel and how much we enjoy life. The right lifestyle decisions with good food and good regular exercise can help us make the most of what life has to offer. Making smart food choices early in life and through adulthood can also help reduce risk of obesity, hypertension, diabetes, certain cancers and osteoporosis. Following are the healthy eating habits for adults.
1. Enjoy wide variety of food: This concept it is the most consistent health message in dietary recommendations around the world. We need more than 40 different nutrients for good health and no single food can supply them all. That is why consumption of a wide variety of foods (including fruits, vegetables, cereal grains, meat, fish, poultry, dairy products, fats and oil) is necessary for good health and any food can be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet. Some studies have linked dietary variety with longevity. In any event, choosing a variety of foods adds to the enjoyment of meals and snacks.
2. Eat regularly: eating is one of the life’s great pleasure and it is important to take time to stop, relax and enjoy mealtimes and snacks. Scheduling eating times also ensures that meals are not missed. In case if missed, nutrients should be compensated by subsequent meals. This is especially important for school children, adolescents and the elderly. Breakfast if particularly important as it helps kick start the body by supplying energy after all night fast. Breakfast also help control weight. All mealtimes offer the opportunity for social and family interaction.
3. Balance and moderation: Balancing your food intake means getting enough but not too much of each type of nutrient. If portion size are kept reasonable, there is no need to eliminate favorite food. There is no ‘good food’ or ‘bad food’ but only good or bad diets. Any food can fit into healthy lifestyle by remembering moderation and balance. While balancing the food, one should ensure calorie intake is controlled and excess amount of any one food or food component are not eaten. For instance, if you eat high fat snack, choose no fat or lower fat option in next meal. Example of serving size are 75 – 100 g (size of a palm) of meat, one medium piece of fruit, ½ cup of raw pasta or one scoop (50 g) of ice-cream.
4. Maintain healthy weight and feel good: A healthy weight varies between individuals and depends on many factors including gender, height, age and heredity. Excess body weight results when more calories are eaten than are needed. Those extra calorie can come from any source; protein, fat, carbohydrate or alcohol but fat is much concentrated source of calories.
5. Don’t forget your fruits and vegetables: Numerous studies have shown an association between the intake of fruits and vegetables daily and decreased risk of cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers. An increased intake of fruits and vegetables has also been associated with decreased blood pressure. People can fill up on fresh fruits and vegetables because they are good source of nutrients and the majority are naturally low fat and calories. Fruits and vegetables are rich source of vitamins, minerals and other protective substances. The carotenes ( beta carotene, lutein and lycopene), flavonoids (phenolic compounds that are widespread in commonly consumed fruits and vegetables derived from plants like tea, cocoa and red wine) and other phytochemicals are being demonstrated to have beneficial roles in human health.
6. Base the diet on food rich in carbohydrates: carbohydrate rich food such as cereal grain, fruits and vegetables should comprise major portion of diet in our daily meal plan. Although, the body treats all carbohydrates in the same way regardless of their source, carbohydrates can be classified into “simple” and “complex”. Complex carbohydrate that come from plants are called starch and fibers and are found in cereal grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, seeds, legumes and beans. Simple carbohydrates are sometimes called simple sugar and found in table sugar, fruits, sweets, jams, fruits, sweet jams, soft drinks, fruit juice, honey, jellies and syrups. Both complex and simple carbohydrates provide the same amount of energy and both contributes tooth decay especially when oral hygiene is poor.
7. Drink plenty of fluids: Adult needs to drink at least 1.5 liters of fluid daily, even more if it is hot after heavy physical activities. Plain water is good source of liquid but variety can be both pleasant and healthy. Alternative sources are fresh fruit juices, tea, coffee and milk.
8. Fat in moderation: fat is essential for good health and plays vital role in absorbance, circulation and storage of fat soluble vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E and vitamin K. Fat containing food are also needed to provide essential fatty acids that the body cannot make. Fish and fish supplements are rich source of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (ω-3 PUFAs). Other essential fatty acids includes Alpha linolenic acid (ALA), Ecosapentanoic acid (EPA), Docosahexanoic acids (DHA), omega -6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (ω-6 PUFAs) and others.
However, too much saturated fat can lead to adverse health effect such as overweight, high cholesterol, increase risk of heart disease and some cancers. Limiting the amount of saturated fat in diet and including polyunsaturated fat is the best advice for healthy diet. It is healthful to keep fat intake below 30 % of total calorie intake and saturated fat consumption should be kept below 10% of daily total calorie.
9. Balance the salt intake: Salt (NaCl) is made up of sodium and chloride. Sodium is nutrient and present naturally in many foods. Sodium and chloride are important in helping the body to maintain fluid balance and to regulate blood pressure. For most people, any excess sodium passes straight through the body however in some people it can increase blood pressure. Reducing the amount of salt in the diet of those who are sensitive to salt may reduce the risk of high blood pressure.
10. Start now and make changes gradually: Making changes gradually, such as eating more fruits and vegetables, cutting back on portion size or taking the stairs instead the lift. It is never too late to start good things. Once you make changes, it will gradually become your habit.