Making healthy lifestyle changes isn’t just about doing it to help you lose weight. Even thin people need to make changes if they are eating unhealthy food and not exercising. To do this isn’t easy. But once you start, you will feel definitely feel healthier and have more energy.
There are several “diets” or diet products that you always see advertised. However, you have to be careful because often these push you to buy products that may have serious side effects or result in serious health problems. While many of these may cause you to lose weight, once you stop taking them, you will probably gain it back again. Plus, they don’t address the bigger issue of getting healthier.
There are 2 specific diets that have been shown to have health benefits. One is called the DASH diet. This stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The other one is called the Mediterranean Diet, named after the region of the world where it comes from.
The DASH diet emphasizes low sodium foods, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low fat dairy products. It also includes a maximum of 6 ounces of meat a day from either skinless chicken, lean meat, or fish. It allows you to eat sweets and fats or oils, but only in very small servings, and it encourages you to eat a small amount of nuts several days a week.
You can get whole grains mainly by substituting these for regular “white” products. Some examples include whole grain bread or pasta and brown rice instead of white. You should try to eat at least 6 servings of whole grains a day. One serving would be something like 1 slice of bread or half a cup of rice or pasta.
You should also try to eat 4 servings daily of both fruits and vegetables. One serving of fruit is equal to one medium-sized piece of fruit or half a cup of fresh or frozen fruit. A serving of vegetables would be half a cup of either raw or cooked vegetables. The DASH diet also recommends 2-3 servings a day of fat free or low-fat dairy products. One serving is like a cup of skim milk or low-fat yogurt.
The Mediterranean and DASH Diets are pretty similar in a lot of ways. However, one main difference is the Mediterranean’s higher emphasis on whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and nuts compared to the DASH Diet, and its lower emphasis on meat. It consists of eating lean red meat no more than a few times a month and instead, for meat, eating fish or skinless chicken at least a couple of times a week. It also uses seasonings like herbs and spices instead of salt, and olive or canola oil for cooking instead of butter or animal fats.
Margarine or butter is not used with bread in the Mediterranean area. Instead, most people eat bread either plain or with a little bit of olive oil on the side to dip it in. The mainstay of the diet in this region is whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
The Mediterranean diet also includes the added component of exercise. I think maybe this is because, as in other parts of the world, walking there is much more common. Although this is starting to change, many people don’t think twice about walking to the grocery or to do routine errands. However, the biggest focus is on food and specifically tasty food. People who live in the Mediterranean region would be appalled if they knew how much fast food is consumed here!
No matter how you choose to do it, it’s never too late to make some healthy lifestyle changes. These changes will stick with you in the long run to keep you healthy.