How To Cut Down Extra Calories And Unhealthy Foods
If you have read the post I wrote on “What is healthy eating?”, you should by now have an idea of the different food classes, what they do to our body and which foods belong to each class. If you haven’t read the post, please do so before reading this one. This will help your understanding of some of the things I mention in this post.
It is common sense that we all want to eat healthily. However, because of many challenges of healthy eating, it is difficult to eat right.
In this article, you will find recommended ways and some tips that have been found useful to help people reduce extra calories and unhealthy food in an adult’s diet.
Here they are:
Eat Natural Foods
Natural foods contain the right amounts and quality of nutrients your body needs. Highly processed foods contain added sugars and salts in excess amounts in order to make them taste better, stay longer on the supermarket shelve and make you addictive to them. Eating natural foods such as fresh vegetables and fruits reduce the risks for non-communicable diseases and help ensure adequate intake of fiber. Your fruits and vegetables should make at least 400g (5 portions) of your meals per day. Whole grains (e.g. maize, millet, oats, and rice), legumes and nuts should be unprocessed.
Tips for eating fruits and vegetables
- Always add vegetables to your meals.
- Eat fresh fruits and raw vegetables as snacks.
- Eat fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season and that you can buy from your local market.
- Eat fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors.
Eat healthy Fats and Oils
The fat portion of your meal should not exceed 30% of the total calories in a diet of 2000kcals per day. Reduce fat intake to less than 30% per day. Your saturated fat should be less than 10% while trans-fat is less than 1%; as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Unsaturated fats (found in fish, avocado, nuts and olive oils) are the best sources of good fats. While saturated fats are found in fatty meat, butter, palm kernel oil, cream, cheese, and lard. Industrial or trans-fat are found in fast-food, processed foods, snacks, pizzas, pies, cookies, margarine, and spreads. Both saturated and trans-fats are unhealthy and increase the risks of heart diseases, overweight, obesity and some cancers (colon cancer).
Tips for reducing fat intake
- Substitute saturated fats with unsaturated fats.
- Reduce intake of fatty meat.
- Use vegetable oil, not animal oil.
- Steam, bake, boil your food rather than fry them.
- Eat a limited amount of high-fat foods such as ice cream, butter, cheese, Margarine and spread.
Reduce Sugar intake
Sugars should constitute less than 10% (12 level teaspoons) of total calories per day but WHO says 5% is even better. Go for natural sugars in fruits, milk, and honey rather than sugars in candies, sweets, soft drinks and confectionery sugars in a cake. Even the natural sugars should be added in moderation. Taking sugar in moderation is especially important for patients with diabetes, overweight or obesity.
Reduce Salt intake
Your salt intake should not exceed 5g per day-less is even better. Avoid adding excess salt to meals and eating highly salty foods. Avoid processed foods because they contain a high amount of salts in order to increase their shelf life. Excess salt in meals is particularly unhealthy for patients with hypertension because it worsens their disease condition.
Read Food Labels
Knowing how to read and interpret food labels is an important skill in healthy eating. When you understand what the different serving or portion sizes mean, you have a high chance of making informed decisions and choices about what food to buy and in what amount. Avoid buying foods that do not clearly display ingredients and serving or portion sizes on the package. Some companies do indicate which dietary recommended reference standard they use for their products. Watch out for those products because the information they provide helps you to know how to interpret portion sizes and servings.
Healthy eating is a proactive process that requires some knowledge of food classes, appropriate serving or portion sizes, eating in moderation and how to apply the knowledge into skills. As with all knowledge and skills, the more you know and practice, the better you become at what you do. I encourage you to take it one bit at a time and keep improving every day. In the long run, healthy eating becomes a lifestyle that is practice effortlessly. Not to worry, I am with you on this journey. We will both learn, practice and live the healthier life that we deserve.