Why is it Important?
Eating healthy comes with a wide range of benefits. It helps the body nutritionally and improves functionality, and it can aid the prevention of other illnesses. Benefits of healthy eating can include memory retention, bone health, heart health, gut health, and lower cholesterol and blood levels. Eating tasty nutritious food you enjoy can also make you happier.
According to the World Health Organization, "Eating a variety of whole (i.e. unprocessed) and fresh foods every day helps children and adults to obtain the right amounts of essential nutrients. It also helps them to avoid a diet that is high in sugars, fats, and salt, which can lead to unhealthy weight gain (i.e. overweight and obesity) and non-communicable diseases. Eating a healthy, balanced diet is especially important for young children's development. It also helps older people to have healthier and more active lives.
WHO recommends that people eat a combination of different foods, including staple foods (e.g. cereals such as wheat, barley, rye, maize or rice, or starchy tubers or roots such as potato, yam, taro, or cassava), legumes (e.g. lentils, beans), vegetables, fruit and foods from animals sources (e.g. meat, fish, eggs, and milk)."
Eating a balanced diet is important for your development and overall health. If you do not typically consume vegetables or fruits, don't hesitate to give it a go! You may dislike some of them, but there are so many to try and incorporate into your lifestyle.
What does it consist of?
Healthy eating consists of consuming the amount and type of food that's correct for you. For example, sodium in your diet isn't a bad thing, or something to heavily avoid. However, too much or too little can have detrimental effects on your health. Think of it like Goldilocks. Too much sugar in your diet is not good, as it can increase the risk of heart problems and type 2 diabetes. However, restricting yourself from eating any type of sugar can induce disordered eating behaviors since sugars are in almost everything we eat. The best way to ensure you are healthily eating is to not over or under consume a specific area. Eating a wide range of fruits, vegetables, and foods you enjoy should be the main priority.
What you can do!
To incorporate healthy eating, just add more nutritionally balanced meals into your diet. Remember to practice healthy eating habits, restricting or overconsuming can lead to eating disorders and disordered eating. Remember that it's not an all-or-nothing type of deal. You can always enjoy other food groups, moderation is key.
HealthGuide.Org has an amazing set of tips for this, "A better approach is to make a few small changes at a time. Keeping your goals modest can help you achieve more in the long term without feeling deprived or overwhelmed by a major diet overhaul. Think of planning a healthy diet as a number of small, manageable steps—like adding a salad to your diet once a day. As your small changes become habits, you can continue to add more healthy choices."
Remember that eating what you like and what is good for you is the most important thing to do!