Healthy Lifestyle Diet Essay Format

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How Can Dieting and Exercising Change Your Life?

Good exercise and diet habits are key aspects not only in appearance but in living long, healthy lives. One may look fabulous, both fit and healthy while being just as unhealthy as an obese person. The exact opposite is true, also. A person may be a little overweight but have a healthy heart and diet. The only way to find out if one is eating healthy and getting the proper amounts and types of exercise is by looking at their diet and activity level.

Diet - Is a Way of Life

It is important to first start with a good eating plan. Age, health issues, and level of physical activity are just a few factors that should be taken into consideration when writing a meal plan for a person. For example, a young, healthy, and active person can eat more freely than an older person with high cholesterol who does not get much physical activity. On average, a person should try to eat 6-11 servings of grains, 3-5 servings of fruits, 3-5 servings of vegetables, 2-3 servings of dairy, 2-3 servings of meat, and consume fats and sugars sparingly each day. One should shoot for this range until he/she can have an eating plan written for them.

Diet is just as big of a part of your health as exercising, that’s why it is so crucial to eat well balanced healthy meals. This requires knowing what you are eating; you can obtain this by the dietary label present on the back of the food when you buy it in the grocery store. “Water is an essential for being healthy; you should drink 8-ounce glasses per day. Most people do not have a well-balanced diet like they should, but instead, have a diet high in fat and are not consuming enough fiber” (Gebhardt, 72).

The best way to start towards a healthy diet is to start consuming more natural whole foods, such as fruit, vegetables, bread, cereals, potatoes, and pasta. You have six different food groups one of which would be a good idea to eliminate completely from your diet, the sweets. The other five groups which you need to focus on are the dairy group, meat group, vegetable group, fruit group, and the bread group. It is a good idea to try and eat a little from each of these groups with each meal. Also keep in mind that you need to be paying attention to the amount of protein, fiber, salt, vitamins, and minerals which you consume as well. These are a little bit harder to keep track of and have always caused more confusion.

Customize Your Exercising Plan

Diet is not the only thing that should be factored into a healthy lifestyle. Exercise is just as important as a nutritious diet. There are many benefits of physical activity besides the obvious advantage of having a better physical appearance. Exercise can reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression and improve one's mood and feelings of well-being. Besides helping you look great it helps you feel great, too. There are different types of exercises which give different results. Strength training, such as lifting weights, produces dramatic differences in physical appearance and raises one's metabolic rate. It also improves athletic performance and builds stronger bones. Cardiovascular training builds a powerful heart and strong lungs. It helps prevent hypertension, obesity, heart disease, and Type Two diabetes.

Exercise is not all about physical looks, it also has to do a lot with your actual health and well being. For example, many overweight people tend to be more susceptible to higher cholesterol and blood pressure. Well, by working out and adding an exercise routine into your normal everyday life, you can help to decrease risk factors drastically. It is said that over 60% of American grown-ups are on the heavier side, or overweight. Only about 15% actually engage in the slightest amount of exercise.

“Obesity alone makes a person very vulnerable to heart disease, but also susceptible to an additional 65% chance of having at least one added risk for heart disease, diabetes and or stroke and a 50% possibility of having two or more of these as possible risk factors. Some other possible risks are high blood pressure, high blood sugar, cholesterol and blood fats that are not all curable with insulin and are considered the Metabolic Syndrome” (Lissner, 886-92). This becomes an even bigger risk when areas of fat accumulate around a person’s middle area and the organs in which the fat surrounds. Basically, people become obese by consuming more calories than should be consumed for a whole day and not using up that energy that has been consumed in calories by exerting it in a physical manner such as exercise. Some people have a fast metabolism which would be the people you see eating whatever they want and still look fit or have the average metabolism where you are what you eat, which makes it a lot harder to stay fit and lean.

Exercise has also had a tremendous effect on the aging process of the body. Apparently, the increase in exercise has an enormous effect on nerve cell health and with how long those cells are alive. By maintaining these healthy cells it helps to promote the production of antioxidants which help to protect cells from damage, this is the leading cause of aging. No matter what your age is you can still benefit from exercise not only mentally but also help to prolong your ability to function later on in life. But most importantly “you will be reducing the chance of having a stroke and clotting which can result in deep vein thrombosis and death, which is more critical as we age” (Tremblay, 814-18).

Keeping up a regular cardio routine is a great way to get in shape and also it helps benefit you in various prolonging ways. It is still a good idea to have weight lifting as a part of your routine too. There are six different muscle groups that you can work on with weights. You have arms, back, chest, shoulders, legs, and then abs. You want to try and keep them all worked out pretty evenly. Keeping it switched up and by not concentrating on let's just say bench press, you keep your body guessing and keep it from getting immune to the exercise. Instead of just doing bench press all the time you can switch it up to one week doing dumbbells, maybe cables the next, or maybe even just doing flat out push ups. Then you have the machine style workout which you can substitute in one week. Also, you can switch the focus point up, maybe you want to concentrate on your upper chest this week and lower or mid chest the following week. With this type of confusion, your muscles will grow much stronger and you will notice much more of an improvement.

Exercise and diet are key factors in staying physically and mentally healthy. It is a known fact that if you look great and feel great you will live a longer and happier life. It is important to take one's age, health, and current physical activity level into consideration when writing an exercise and diet plan. There are many people out there, such as nutritionists, personal trainers, and even personal doctors, who can help develop a diet and exercise plan that is right for him/her. There are so many facilities out there to help keep you alive and healthy.

Works Cited

  1. Gebhardt, S.E., Matthews, R.H. (2006). Nutrition Value of Foods, United States Department of Agriculture, Human Nutrition Information Service, Home and Garden Bulletin Number 72.
  2. Lissner L., Levitsky D.A., Strupp B.J., Kalkwarf H.J., Roe D.A. (2005). Dietary fat and the regulation of energy intake in human subjects. Am J Clin Nutr, 46, 886-892.
  3. Tremblay, A., Simoneau, J., Bouchard, C. (2004). The impact of Exercise Intensity on Body Fatness and Skeletal Muscle Metabolism. Metabolism. 43(7): 814-818.

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How can healthy eating improve your mood?

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 profound effect on your mood and sense of wellbeing. Studies have linked eating a typical Western diet—filled with 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 development of mental health disorders such as ADHD, Alzheimer’s disease, and schizophrenia, or in the increased risk of suicide in young people.

Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, cooking meals at home, and reducing your intake of sugar and refined carbohydrates, on the other hand, may help to improve mood and lower your risk for mental health issues. 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.

What constitutes a healthy diet?

Eating a healthy diet doesn’t have to be overly complicated. 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. The cornerstone of a healthy diet pattern should be to replace processed food with real food whenever possible. Eating food that is as close as possible to the way nature made it can make a huge difference to the way you think, look, and feel.

The Healthy Eating Pyramid

The Harvard Healthy Eating Pyramid represents the latest nutritional science. The widest part at the bottom is for things that are most important. The foods at the narrow top are those that should be eaten sparingly, if at all. This Healthy Eating Pyramid shows daily exercise and weight control in the widest, most important category. Fats from healthy sources, such as plants, are in the wider part of the pyramid. Refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and white rice, are in the narrow top. Red meat should also be eaten sparingly, while fish, poultry, and eggs are healthier choices.

Adapted with permission from Healthy Eating: A guide to the new nutrition, a special health report published by Harvard Health Publications.

Building your healthy diet

While some extreme diets may suggest otherwise, we all need a balance of protein, fat, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals in our diets to sustain a healthy body. You don’t need to eliminate certain categories of food from your diet, but rather select the healthiest options from each category.

Protein

Protein gives us the energy to get up and go—and keep going—while also supporting mood and cognitive function. Too much protein can be harmful to people with kidney disease, but the latest research suggests that many of us need more high-quality protein, especially as we age. That doesn’t mean you have to eat more animal products—a variety of plant-based sources of protein each day can ensure your body gets all the essential protein it needs. Learn more »

Fat

Not all fat is the same. While bad fats can wreck your diet and increase your risk of certain diseases, good fats protect your brain and heart. In fact, healthy fats—such as omega-3s—are vital to your physical and emotional health. Understanding how to include more healthy fat in your diet can help improve your mood, boost your well-being, and even trim your waistline. Learn more »

Fiber

Eating foods high in dietary fiber (grains, fruit, vegetables, nuts, and beans) can help you stay regular and lower your risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. It can also improve your skin and even help you to lose weight. Depending on your age and gender, nutrition experts recommend you eat at least 21 to 38 grams of fiber each day for optimal health. Unfortunately, most of us aren't eating even half that amount. Learn more »

Calcium

Your body uses calcium to build healthy bones and teeth, keep them strong as you age, send messages through the nervous system, and regulate the heart’s rhythm. As well as leading to osteoporosis, not getting enough calcium in your diet can also contribute to anxiety, depression, and sleep difficulties. Whatever your age or gender, it’s vital to include calcium-rich foods in your diet, limit those that deplete calcium, and get enough magnesium and vitamins D and K to help calcium do its job. Learn more »

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are one of your body’s main sources of energy. But most should come from complex, unrefined carbs (vegetables, whole grains, fruit) rather than sugars and refined carbs that have been stripped of all bran, fiber, and nutrients. Cutting back on white bread, pastries, starches, and sugar can prevent rapid spikes in blood sugar, fluctuations in mood and energy, and a build-up of fat, especially around your waistline. Learn more »

Setting yourself up for success

Switching to a healthy diet doesn’t have to be an all or nothing proposition. You don’t have to be perfect, you don’t have to completely eliminate foods you enjoy, and you don’t have to change everything all at once—that usually only leads to cheating or giving up on your new eating plan.

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. You’ll eat fewer calories and avoid the chemical additives, added sugar, and unhealthy fats of packaged and takeout foods that can leave you feeling tired, bloated, and irritable, and exacerbate symptoms of depression, stress, and anxiety.

Make the right changes. When cutting back on unhealthy foods in your diet, it’s important to replace them with healthy alternatives. Replacing dangerous trans fats with healthy fats (such as switching fried chicken for grilled salmon) 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 processed 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 or unhealthy fats 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 healthier the 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 of us 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.

Moderation: important to any healthy diet

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. For many of us, moderation 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.

Try not to think of certain foods as “off-limits.” When you ban certain foods, it’s natural to want those foods more, and then feel like a failure if you give in to temptation. 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 ballooned 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. By serving your meals on smaller plates or in bowls, you can trick your brain into thinking it’s a larger portion. If you don't feel satisfied at the end of a meal, add more leafy greens or round off the meal with fruit.

Take your time. It actually takes a few minutes for your brain to tell your body that it has had enough food, so eat slowly and stop eating before you feel full.

Eat with others whenever possible. Eating alone, especially 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 jumpstart your metabolism, while eating small, healthy meals (rather than the standard three large meals) keeps your energy up all day.
  • Avoid eating late 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.

Make fruit and vegetables a tasty part of your diet

Fruit 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 amount of at least 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.

To increase your intake:

  • Add antioxidant-rich berries to your favorite breakfast cereal
  • Eat a medley of sweet fruit—oranges, mangos, pineapple, grapes—for dessert
  • Swap your usual rice or pasta side dish for a colorful salad
  • Instead of eating processed snack foods, snack on vegetables such as carrots, snow peas, or cherry tomatoes along with a spicy hummus dip or peanut butter

How to make vegetables tasty

While plain salads and steamed veggies can quickly become bland, there are plenty of ways to add taste to your vegetable dishes.

Add color. Not only do brighter, deeper colored vegetables contain higher concentrations of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants—but they can vary the flavor and make meals more visually appealing. Add color using fresh or sundried tomatoes, glazed carrots or beets, roasted red cabbage wedges, yellow squash, or sweet, colorful peppers.

Liven up salad greens. Branch out beyond lettuce. Kale, arugula, spinach, mustard greens, broccoli, and Chinese cabbage are all packed with calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, zinc, and vitamins A, C, E, and K. To add flavor to your salad greens, try drizzling with olive oil, adding a spicy dressing, or sprinkling with almond slices, chickpeas, a little bacon, parmesan, or goat cheese.

Satisfy your sweet tooth. Naturally sweet vegetables—such as carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, yams, onions, bell peppers, and squash—add sweetness to your meals and reduce your cravings for added sugar. Add them to soups, stews, or pasta sauces for a satisfying sweet kick.

Cook green beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and asparagus in new ways. Instead of boiling or steaming these healthy sides, try grilling, roasting, or pan frying them with chili flakes, garlic, shallots, mushrooms, or onion. Or marinate in tangy lemon or lime before cooking.

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