Food Choices: The beginning of a Healthy Lifestyle

Food Choices: Making healthy food choices can be difficult. Environment, level of education, food and income availability are some factors that can affect making healthy choices. I refer to this as the beginning of a healthy lifestyle because eating is what we do daily either to be nourished as adults or for growth as children. Our food choices can either make us or break us. So it is important to be knowledgeable on how to make the right choices.

Quantity is more valued in this case than quality. For example, a bag of apples can cost $4.99 while a box of donuts with 9 in each box costs $2.50. Below are few tips on how to shop for healthy foods. Food shopping can be tedious but if done appropriately, it makes eating healthy simpler. Food shopping is one of the common problems I have noticed amongst my patients especially because of availability of funds and accessibility of healthy foods. Some tips to follow while shopping for healthy food choices are:
    Make a shopping list before going food shopping.
    Buy according to seasonal availability
    Buy fresh fruits and vegetables from farmers (if available) because it’s cheaper and fresher.
    Buy when there is sales going on in stores
    Use coupons if available.

Tips on how to make healthy choices based on food groups
    Grains: Grains are major source of carbohydrate which provides 15g/Cal/serving. It’s best to choose whole wheat grains, bread, brown rice and pasta that provide the same 15gs per serving plus fiber than white bread and rice. Whole wheat products are complex carbohydrates; they contain more fiber and low in fat. They help to prevent over eating because you get full quickly as supposed to eating white rice and white bread. When choosing baked goods, avoid the ones made with full cream or fat. For those who bake, adding vegetables and fruits such as zucchini, apples and carrots can help increase the fiber content.

Our food choices can either make us or break us. So it is important to be knowledgeable on how to make the right choices

    Fruits and Vegetables: I am sure we all have heard the usual saying “eat fruits and vegetables to be healthy” or “increase your fruits and vegetables”. I wish it were that easy. Fruits and vegetables are healthy choices; however, vegetables are heathier because they are considered complex carbs and high in fiber. Fruits are simple carbs and contain more sugar. Eating two medium apples plus grapes and maybe a banana in order to fulfil the “eat fruits daily to improve your health” will only lead to excessive sugar in your system.

    Meat, Poultry, Fish and Nuts: Choose lean mean over medium and high fat meat. While lean meat will give you 7g/Cal/ serving size, a medium or high fat meat will add extra 2 to 3 fat servings with the same serving. Remove skin from chicken and bake or grill instead of frying. Fish is a source of protein as well as calcium. Other sources of protein include nuts, eggs and legumes.

    Dairy: Dairy foods such as milk, cheese and yogurt are good sources of calcium which is important for bone growth especially for children. Adults can supplement with vitamin to help with bones.

    Fat, Sweets and Oils: Sweets should be consumed sparingly. Sweets are empty calories that lead to weight gain, abdominal obesity, and decrease in HDL (good cholesterol), increase in LDL (bad cholesterol), elevated triglycerides and high blood pressure. The picture below is a very interesting one that surprises many of my patients. It shows how much sugar we consume in each of those drinks. Every time you gulp down a can of Coke, Sprite or Fanta, you are gulping down that amount of sugar!

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