1. What’s healthy eating?
Healthy eating is our positive approaches to foods by which we find the best possible support and improvement for our overall health – physically, mentally and emotionally.
Finding balance in dieting is one big goal of healthy eating. People, even till this day, still misconstrue the definition of dieting as constructing a temporary rotation/plan with which they can lose some weight. Diets like this are helpful, however. They’re just not meant for a healthy individual.
In fact, the term includes not only making diverse and balanced but also satisfying choices for every meal you have. By doing so, you should be energetic, fulfilling and comfortable after enjoying your food, rather than feeling guilty or missing out.
In other words, a healthy diet is wholesome and not too restrictive.
Also, it’s important to note that healthy eating should not be defined as one single practice, but rather a lifestyle to pursue. The best way to start eating healthy is trying to obey your diet in a significant amount of time, to the point it turns to be habit.
2. Our idea of a healthy diet
No one’s diet should be ever the same, as different body mass needs different amounts of nutrients. With this in mind, we guaranteed our diet to provide any individual with enough macronutrients and micronutrients, basing on their BMI and the target to keep the body in shape.
And by putting “enough” in bold, I imply how easy this line is crossed. Trans fat, saturated fat, sugar and cholesterol negatively affect the body, yet are so commonly consumed in excess amounts. One piece of KFC’s original chicken breast contains 20% saturated fat and up to 40% cholesterol (PDA’s recommended amount), and that is too much for a day, let alone a meal. Therefore, it is crucial to choose the healthy sources of nutrients, which are introduced in the nutrient section below.
Besides from eating enough nutrients from the right sources, one should enjoy their food because it actually helps the body absorb nutrients better. In an experiment, participants are guided to consume two meals comprising of identical ingredients, but with a slight twist: one appealed participants while the other grossed them out. Surprisingly, results showed that when consuming the “gross” dish, they absorbed 70% less iron than the appealing other.
Hence, it’s also the aim of ours, to ensure dieters to feel happy and fulfilling once followed our diet.
To begin searching for your dish, enjoy going through our recipes here.
To understand how much nutrients to consume, read on. The numbers below are taken from DRI (Dietary Recommendation Intake), approved by …
3. Three Most Common Misconceptions About Healthy Eating
“Fat is the only culprit of obesity”
In the 1950s, American physiologist Ancel Keys first hypothesized that dietary saturated fat is the reason for cardiovascular heart disease. The Americans have been getting rid of fat in their meals since, thus, making low-fat diet a phenomenon throughout the country for decades.
But in times, reality truly strikes backwards: the obesity rates in America skyrocketed over the past 30 years despite more and more people engaging in low-fat diets. Since then, people have started to believe fat isn’t the only culprit of obesity.
Truth is, fat (except trans fat) and carbohydrates are 2 important macronutrients for the human body, as long as they are consumed in moderate amounts. Only when they come in excess, is fat formed, and too much fat on your body means Obesity.
So, it would be correct to say “Eating too much carbs and fats is the culprit of obesity”.
“Eating as much salad as possible is healthy.”
Vegetables are packed with fibers, vitamins and minerals, which are indeed healthy. Fiber isn’t digestible, but still, benefits the body in certain ways:
- Soluble, viscous fiber reduces blood sugar spikes.
- Insoluble, fermentable fiber helps develop a healthy environment for gut bacteria.
- Insoluble fiber soften your stool, normalizes bowel movement.
However, Overconsumption of fiber is a different story. It is known to cause:
- Abdominal pain
- Loose stools or diarrhea
- Intestinal blockage
- Reduced blood sugar levels (important for diabetes treatment)
Furthermore, a healthy meal must contain a balanced amount of everything, including macro and micronutrients. Vegetables only provide our bodies with just fibers, vitamins and minerals, completely lack of important nutrients.
In short, if your “salad” is packed with greens, meat, fat and carbs in moderate amounts, it’s not a healthy meal.
“You can eat anything as long as you exercise”
Processed and fried foods are examples among the unhealthy foods, yet so irresistible to most of us that we come out with excuses just to eat them without feeling guilty. This is one of those excuses, and it is unreasonable.
Unhealthy foods provide us with too much energy (carbs, fats), which are all stored in our fat cells and make us fat. Although exercising indeed aids in losing energy, it has a limit, and gaining has none. Not to mention, trans fat packed in unhealthy food promotes bad cholesterol level, which exercising is able to reduce, but not entirely.
So yes, eating too much is a problem and it can’t be solved by simply doing tons of exercise. It’s okay to treat yourself once in a while, as long as a limit is set.
Nutrients in recommended amounts
Macronutrients are nutrients required in large amounts, providing the essential energy to run every physiological activity there is in our bodies.
Carbohydrates are the body’s main energy source. There are 3 kinds of carbohydrates:
– Simple Carbs: normally known as “sugar”, convertible into glucose at a fast rate. They are found in processed food, sweet fruits and vegetables. However, it is recommended that sweet fruits and vegetables should be preferred over processed foods, as they contain more nutrients and are slow to digest.
Recommendation: As low as possible
– Complex Carbs: normally known as “starch”, convertible into glucose at a slower rate. Similar to simple carbs, sources of complex carbs with low GI are recommended: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, etc.
Recommendation: 130 grams/ day
– Fibers: inconvertible into glucose and isn’t considered as an energy source. Instead, fiber helps with bowel movement, reduce blood sugar and develop helpful bacteria in the digestive tract. Fibers are found in vegetables, fruits, legumes, etc.
Recommendation: 25-38 grams/ day
Fats are commonly misread as the only source of obesity, while it’s not. Fat is crucial, as it aids in vitamins absorption, maintains body temperature and is one of the main energy sources. Fats come in 3 types:
Saturated fat: being “saturated” means its molecular structure allows itself to be solid in room temperature, found mostly in animal fat, dairy products and tropical oils.
Unsaturated fat (the bad kind – Trans fat): with the structure similar to saturated fat, only with one or many double links. It is produced by food manufacturers through a process called partial hydrogenation, which increases its shelf life, allows easier transportation and therefore, makes it favorable.
*Saturated and Trans fat are bad: they are discovered to trigger the production of PGC-1β, an “activator” that signals the liver to produce VLDL, the precursor of LDL (bad cholesterol), more than necessary. Furthermore, it is because of their solid property that while being transported, they form plaques in the arteries, causing several severe cardiovascular diseases.
Unsaturated fat (the good kind – Cis fat): because of its molecular structure, unsaturated fat stays in liquid form at room temperature (avocado, nuts, olive oils, vegetable oils, fish oil, etc.). Such contrast property to saturated and trans fat labels Cis fat “healthy”. It does not contribute to plaques formation nor overproduction of bad cholesterol.
Proteins are the building blocks of cells in our bodies. They come from animal sources like meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products as well as beans, soy products, nut and seeds.
Proteins are misunderstood to be available in all kinds of food. Certain types of proteins are crucial to our body, and they are only available in certain kinds of meat, legumés and vegetables. It’s important to include various sources of proteins in a meal to ensure a healthy body.
Recommendation: 46-56 grams/ day
Micronutrients, as opposed to macronutrients, are required in small quantities to ensure normal metabolism, growth and physical well‐being.
Vitamins’ only job is to keep organs function normally. By way of absorption, they are divided into 2 categories: fat-soluble (FS) and water-soluble (WS).
FS vitamins are best absorb during meals, (disintegrated by fat) and storable. Because of this property, FS vitamin should not be taken exceedingly to avoid Vitamin toxicity.
In contrast, WS vitamins once disintegrated by water available in your digestive tract, they are transferred to the bloodstream, used and expelled through urination. Toxicity is unlikely if overdosed, but megadose of vitamin C is known to cause nausea or even diarrhea.
In total, there are 13 vitamins, differing in functions and required amounts:
- Vitamin A (FS): improves vision, skin, bone; promotes tooth grow; supports immune system; enables organs to function normally.
- Vitamin D (FS): promotes calcium absorption; reduces inflammation; benefits immune system. (can be naturally developed through skin synthesis)
- Vitamin E (FS): protects cells from damage; helps fight bacteria; prevents infections.
- Vitamin K (FS): promotes bone health; is important for blood clotting.
- Vitamin C (WS): prevents infection; promotes immune system; helps absorb iron.
- B vitamins (WS): for the sake of keeping this guideline short, read here for details of B vitamins.
Minerals are essential, although not in large quantities but causes great dysfunctions if lacked.
Similar to vitamins, minerals are divided into 2 groups based on their daily intake amounts and levels of importance: macrominerals and microminerals (or trace minerals). Five macrominerals are:
- Potassium: Many major biological processes, muscle contraction, nerve impulses, synthesis of nucleic acids and protein, energy production
- Sodium: Water balance in tissues
- Calcium: Healthy bones and teeth, nerve conduction, muscle contraction, blood clotting, production of energy, immunity to disease
- Phosphorus: Strong bones, all cell functions, cell membranes
- Magnesium: Every major biologic process, use of glucose in the body, synthesis of nucleic acids and protein, cellular energy
Other trace minerals are Sulfur, Iron, Chlorine, Cobalt, Copper, Zinc, Manganese, Molybdenum, Iodine and Selenium. Find out more here.
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“Starving yourself helps lose fat”
Another misconception with the supposing logic to be that starving forces the body to use fat as energy. It made sense, until this research proved it to be otherwise.
Starving is commonly believed to force the body to extract energy from fat cells, and the longer they starve, the more fat they lose. This is misleading.
Starving forces the body to use up BOTH fatty acids stored in fat cells AND GLYCOGEN, a crucial emergency energy stored in the liver and muscles.
Glycogen (convertible into glucose) is drawn first at the start of the starvation, and when it runs out, the body converts amino acids in muscles into glucose as the brain only accept glucose for energy.
It is only until this time that fat cells are drawn to provide energy for muscles, but at a very slow rate because muscle cells are starting to lose in number.
In other words, starving depletes glycogen tank, your glucose emergency storage, allows shedding fat AND MUSCLES at once, which leads to severe consequences: not enough glucose causes persistent fatigue; loss of muscle mass decreases the body’s physical performance, which inhibits the possibility to lose fat by exercising. These don’t sound so healthy, do they?
Fasting, however, is a regulated diet which has proven to be indeed effective against controlling body weight by forming a habit of moderate food consumption. This is different from starving, a complete prohibition to food intake that affects the body’s normal function.