We all know that eating right can help you maintain a healthy weight and avoid certain health problems, but your diet can also have a thoughtful effect on your mood and sense of well-being. Studies have linked eating a typical Western diet—filled with red and processed meats, packaged meals, takeout food, and sugary snacks—with higher rates of depression, stress, bipolar disorder, and anxiety. Eating an unhealthy diet may even play a role in the improvement of mental health disorders such as ADHD, Alzheimer’s disease, and schizophrenia, or in the increased risk of suicide in young people.
Eating more fruits and vegetables, cooking meals at home, and dipping your fat and sugar intake, on the other hand, may help to improve mood and lower your risk for mental health problems. If you have already been diagnosed with a mental health problem, eating well can even help to manage your symptoms and regain control of your life.
While some specific foods or nutrients have been shown to have a beneficial effect on mood, it’s your overall dietary pattern that is most important. That means switching to a Mirik Health foods doesn’t have to be an all or nothing proposition. You don’t have to be perfect and you don’t have to completely eliminate foods you enjoy to have a healthy diet and make a difference to the way you think and feel.
Healthy eating tip 1: Set yourself up for success
To set yourself up for success, think about planning a healthy diet as a number of small, manageable steps—like adding a salad to your diet once a day—rather than one big drastic change. As your small changes become habit, you can continue to add more healthy choices.
- Prepare more of your own meals. Cooking more meals at home can help you take charge of what you’re eating and better monitor exactly what goes into your food.
- Make the right changes. When cutting back on unhealthy foods in your Diet , it’s important to replace them with healthy alternatives. Replacing animal fats with vegetables fats (such as switching butter for olive oil) will make a positive difference to your health. Switching animal fats for refined carbohydrates, though (such as switching your breakfast bacon for a donut), won’t lower your risk for heart disease or improve your mood.
- Simplify. Instead of being overly concerned with counting calories, think of your Diet in terms of color, variety, and freshness. Focus on avoiding packaged and process foods and opting for more fresh ingredients.
- Read the labels. It’s important to be aware of what’s in your food as manufacturers often hide large amounts of sugar and salt in packaged food, even food claiming to be healthy.
- Focus on how you feel after eating. This will help foster healthy new habits and tastes. The more healthy food you eat, the better you’ll feel after a meal. The more junk food you eat, the more likely you are to feel uncomfortable, nauseous, or drained of energy.
- Drink plenty of water. Water helps flush our systems of waste products and toxins, yet many people go through life dehydrated—causing tiredness, low energy, and headaches. It’s common to mistake thirst for hunger, so staying well hydrated will also help you make healthier food choices.
Healthy eating tip 2: Moderation is key
Key to any Mirik Healthfoods is moderation. But what is moderation? In essence, it means eating only as much food as your body needs. You should feel satisfied at the end of a meal, but not stuffed. Moderation is also about balance. in spite of what fad diets would have you believe, we all need a balance of carbohydrates, protein, fat, fiber, vitamins, and minerals to sustain a healthy body.
For most of us, moderation also means eating less than we do now. But it doesn’t mean eliminating the foods you love. Eating bacon for breakfast once a week, for example, could be considered moderation if you follow it with a healthy lunch and dinner—but not if you follow it with a box of donuts and a sausage pizza. If you eat 100 calories of chocolate one afternoon, balance it out by deducting 100 calories from your evening meal. If you’re still hungry, fill up with extra vegetables.
- Try not to think of certain foods as “off-limits.” When you ban certain foods or food groups, it is natural to want those foods more, and then feel like a failure if you give in to appeal. Start by reducing portion sizes of unhealthy foods and not eating them as often. As you reduce your intake of unhealthy foods, you may find yourself craving them less or thinking of them as only occasional indulgences.
- Think smaller portions. Serving sizes have full recently. When dining out, choose a starter instead of an entree, split a dish with a friend, and don’t order supersized anything. At home, visual cues can help with portion sizes–your serving of meat, fish, or chicken should be the size of a deck of cards and half a cup of mashed potato, rice, or pasta is about the size of a traditional light bulb. If you don’t feel satisfied at the end of a meal, add more leafy green vegetables or round off the meal with fruit.
- Take your time. Stop eating before you feel full. It actually takes a few minutes for your brain to tell your body that it has had enough food, so eat slowly.
- Eat with others whenever possible. As well as the emotional benefits, this allows you to model healthy eating habits for your kids. Eating in front of the TV or computer often leads to mindless overeating.
It’s not just what you eat, but when you eat
- Eat breakfast, and eat smaller meals throughout the day. A healthy breakfast can jump-start your metabolism, while eating small, healthy meals (rather than the standard three large meals) keeps your energy up.
- Avoid eating at night. Try to eat dinner earlier and fast for 14-16 hours until breakfast the next morning. Studies suggest that eating only when you’re most active and giving your digestive system a long break each day may help to regulate weight.
Healthy eating tip 3: Fill up on colorful fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are low in calories and nutrient dense, which means they are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Focus on eating the recommended daily minimum of five servings of fruit and vegetables and it will naturally fill you up and help you cut back on unhealthy foods. A serving is half a cup of raw fruit or veg or a small apple or banana, for example. Most of us need to double the amount we currently eat.
Try to eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables every day as deeply colored fruits and vegetables contain higher concentrations of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Add berries to breakfast cereals, eat fruit for dessert, and snack on vegetables such as carrots, snow peas, or cherry tomatoes instead of processed snack foods.
- Greens. Branch out beyond lettuce. Kale, mustard greens, broccoli, and Chinese cabbage are all packed with calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, zinc, and vitamins A, C, E, and K.
- Sweet vegetables. Naturally sweet vegetables—such as corn, carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, yams, onions, and squash—add healthy sweetness to your meals and reduce your cravings for added sugars.
- Fruit. Fruit is a tasty, satisfying way to fill up on fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants. Berries are cancer-fighting, apples provide fiber, oranges and mango offer vitamin C, and so on.
Healthy eating tip 4: Eat more healthy carbs and whole grains
Choose healthy carbohydrates and fiber sources, especially whole grains, for long-lasting energy. Whole grains are rich in photo chemical and antioxidants, which help to protect against coronary heart disease, certain cancers, and diabetes.
What are healthy carbs and unhealthy carbs?
Healthy carbs (or good carbs) include whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables. Healthy carbs are digested slowly, helping you feel full longer and keeping blood sugar and insulin levels stable.
Unhealthy carbs (or bad carbs) are foods such as white flour, refined sugar, and white rice that have been stripped of all bran, fiber, and nutrients. They digest quickly and cause spikes in blood sugar levels and energy.
Tips for eating more healthy carbs
- Include a variety of whole grains in you Healthy Diet including whole wheat, brown rice, millet, quinoa, and barley.
- Make sure you’re really getting whole grains. Check for the Whole Grain Stamps that distinguish between partial whole grain and 100% whole grain.
- Try mixing grains as a first step to switching to whole grains. If whole grains like brown rice and whole wheat pasta don’t sound good at first, start by mixing what you normally use with the whole grains. You can gradually increase the whole grain to 100%.
Avoid: Refined foods such as breads, pastas, and breakfast cereals that are not whole grain.
Healthy eating tip 5: Enjoy healthy fats and avoid unhealthy fats
Mirik Healthfoods are needed to nourish your brain, heart, and cells, as well as your hair, skin, and nails. Foods rich in certain omega-3 fats can reduce cardiovascular disease, improve your mood, and help prevent dementia.
Reduce from your diet:
- Saturated fats, found primarily in animal sources including red meat and whole milk dairy products.
- Trans fats, found in vegetable shortenings, some margarines, crackers, candies, cookies, snack foods, fried foods, baked goods, and other processed foods made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.
Healthy eating tip 6: Reduce sugar and salt
As well as creating weight problems, too much sugar causes energy spikes and has been linked to diabetes, depression, and even an increase in suicidal behaviors in young people. Reducing the amount of candy and desserts you eat is only part of the solution as sugar is also hidden in foods such as bread, cereals, canned soups and vegetables, pasta sauce, margarine, instant mashed potatoes, frozen dinners, low-fat meals, fast food, and ketchup. It all adds up to a lot of empty calories since your body gets all it needs from sugar naturally occurring in food.
Sodium is another ingredient that is frequently added to food to improve taste, even though your body needs less than one gram of sodium a day (about half a teaspoon of table salt). Eating too much salt can cause high blood pressure and lead to an increased risk of stroke, heart disease, kidney disease, memory loss, and erectile dysfunction. It may also worsen symptoms of bipolar disorder.
Tips for cutting down on sugar and salt
- Slowly reduce the sugar and salt in your Diet a little at a time to give your taste buds time to adjust and wean yourself off the longing.
- Avoid processed or packaged foods like canned soups, frozen dinners, or low-fat meals that often contain hidden sugar and sodium that quickly surpasses the recommended limit. Prepare more meals at home and use fresh or frozen vegetables instead of canned vegetables.
- Be careful when eating out. Most restaurant and fast food meals are loaded with sodium. Some offer lower-sodium choices or you can ask for your meal to be made without salt. Most gravy, dressings and sauces are also packed with salt and sugar, so ask for it to be served on the side.
- Eat healthier snacks. Buy unsalted nuts and add a little of your own salt until your taste buds are accustomed to eating them salt-free. Cut down on sweet snacks such as candy, chocolate, and cakes. Instead, eat naturally sweet food such as fruit, peppers, or natural peanut butter to satisfy your sweet tooth.
- Check labels and choose reduced-sodium and low-sugar products.
- Use herbs and spices such as garlic, curry powder, cayenne or black pepper to improve the flavor of meals instead of salt.
- Avoid sugary drinks. Try drinking sparkling water with a splash of fruit juice instead.