How to Develop a Healthy Diet?

By: Mahad Tariq

We’ve always heard from a young age to exercise and eat healthy, but unfortunately many Pakistani’s find it very difficult to manage work, studies, family, hobbies, etc. and because of this we tend to not focus on our diet and most of the times don’t really understand it. Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on height and weight calculate, and is a good way to see which category you fall in.  However does eating right and following a healthy life style really help you in the long run in staying fit and feeling good? Well this article will answer all these questions and highlight the importance of eating well and living healthy.

The Five Food Groups

Let’s first go over what a well balance diet consists of and what is required by the body in order for it to function efficiently.  Every food is put into the five food groups which are: 1) the dairy group: milk, cheese, ice cream, and other milk based groups. 2) the meat group: Meat, Fish, poultry, and basically proteins as well including eggs, dried legumes, and nuts as alternatives. 3) The fruits group. 4) the vegetable group. 5) and the breads and cereals group.

  • Dairy: The foods in this group provide excellent source of calcium, which is important for healthy and strong bones.
  • Lean Meats and Poultry and Nuts: Our body uses the protein we eat to make specialized chemicals such as hemoglobin and adrenalin. Protein helps maintains, repairs, and build the tissues in our body. Muscles and organs (such as your heart, lungs, liver, kidney, etc.)
  • Fruit: Provides vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and many nutrients that help your body stay healthy.
  • Vegetables, Legumes and Beans: These make up a large part of your daily food intake and should be consumed at every meal (including snack times). They provide vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and help your body stay healthy.
  • Cereal: Always choose wholegrain or high fiber varieties of breads, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles, etc. Refined grain products (such as cakes or biscuits) can be high in added sugar, fat and sodium and should be closely watched.

Calories

Food is energy and the amount of energy in foods or drinks is measured in calories. An average adult should get approximately 2000-2600 calories a day, based on many experts in the food and nutrition field. This figure may be higher or lower depending on the needs and requirements of the individual, for instance a male’s calorie intake will tend to be higher than females. Someone who’s trying to lose weight will look to intake a lower amount of calories and vice versa for someone who’s trying to gain weight. Here’s a Calorie Calculator to help understand how much one should be getting depending on the results you are looking for. 

Affects on the Body

We understand that eating right plays an important role on the body but the severity even came as a surprise to me.  A diet which is plant focused can help fight against diseases which don’t have cures, for example cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, obesity. It helps with growth, especially vital for growing children. Both learning and memory are shown to increase with a reduced calorie diet that includes a variety of fruits and vegetables and fish that’s high in omega 3 acids. It even helps with illness like depression, which in today’s era is treated with expensive pills and medicine when the cure is right in front us and that simple.

Before it’s too Late…

I strongly believe that we need to take every step possible to educate ourselves, learn more and make healthy conscience decision. Our society is moving at an alarming rate towards processed and fast food which harm our bodies both in the short and long-term. I also believe parents, friends, and family, have a moral obligation to create awareness and teach these correct practices to others especially children so they may follow them from a young age. Studies show vegetarians, compared to those who consume large quantities of meat live from 6 to 9 years longer and more likely to exercise and not smoke.

Let’s Get Started

Taking that first step and bringing on the change is the hardest part, however if willing it can save your life. Easiest way to do this is to buy more greens, choose fresh over frozen foods, avoid sweetened drinks, choose whole grain, prepare meals yourself instead of buying out, and store healthy foods at home.  Here are 52 different and easily prepared healthy meals that all are suitable to eat throughout the day. Best of luck and happy eating!