By Trish Powell
To maintain good health, we need to eat a healthy balanced diet. Couldn't be easier could it? Due to our diverse life styles, eating a balanced diet is much harder than we imagine. Most articles dealing with healthy living tend to list food sources that are beneficial and give reasons why we should eat more of them, that's fine as far as it goes, but how do you manage it?
This article is not so much about the right foods, you know what they are, nor is it about a weight loss diet; though if you are overweight, along with some exercise and a healthy diet you will lose weight. This is about strategies that we can adopt to help us eat a more balanced diet long term.
Let's start right there, there are no right and wrong foods. The idea that there are some foods you must not eat is totally wrong. There are though foods you should try to eat more of and those that you should eat less of. You may be able to remain on your diet longer if you realize that you can have an ice cream or chocolate, you just can't do it too often. In other words it is the balance we are after.
Making ridiculous changes to your diet overnight probably isn't a good idea, after a few days your resolve is going to weaken and you will end up reverting to your old ways. It is better to make small changes, this way it will have a more lasting effect.
Before you consider your actual diet, look at your lifestyle. This is very important because you need to plan your meals around your everyday activities. Often people will say "It's hard for me to eat properly because I go out a lot." or "I'm a shift worker and meals are never at the right time." These are valid reasons, but they can be overcome with proper planning.
To overhaul your diet you will need to work out what you are consuming now. Be honest with yourself, if you are drinking ten cups of coffee and eating doughnuts every day then acknowledge the fact. Sometimes it can be a shock when you add it all up, rather like getting home after shopping and you wonder where all the money went. Yes tally it all up and you will be surprised.
Once you have come to grips with your actual diet, as opposed to what you thought it was, you can take steps to improve it. Let's take the ten cups of coffee and doughnuts as an example. The obvious solution is to cut down, but you should have a plan. How many cups of coffee should you have a day? Now if you cut out just one cup per day for the next week, then drop off another cup for the next week etc. although taking some time this will work without being hard work.
Do the same for the doughnuts, and though in the beginning you may wish to supplement with a health bar try to wean yourself of even these and change the coffee and doughnut for a piece of fruit. Just don't go cold turkey and give up everything in the one day, unless you have very good will power, that way leads to failure.
Quiet often our diet is governed by what is easiest, enter soft drink and fast food; instant gratification equals long term problems. Here is another myth buster, it is not always the fast food that is the problem; if you were to have a beef patty with salad and a bread roll laid out on a plate, it would be considered a healthy meal. Why then if you put them together is this bad for us? First did you notice we didn't have the fries with that? But mostly it is the soft drink! When did you last have a burger without a soft drink? And don't think because you have a diet coke it doesn't count. It is the fizz that makes you fat!
Spur of the moment eating doesn't allow for healthy meal planning, try to plan meals in advance. If time is an issue try cooking more than you need for one meal and freezing the remaining portions for another occasion. Don't do your shopping in a hurry, allow yourself time to look at other options that might be quick but healthy, if you are in a hurry you will always pick the same things.
The saying a little of what you fancy does you good is true, the art is in knowing how much a "little" is. Eating is a great social activity and it is easy to end up eating and drinking more than we planned when we get together with friends. To over indulge once in a while is not a problem, but if you have a busy social life, or business requires you to dine out on a regular basis, then you need to work out a strategy so that your healthy eating plan isn't compromised.
Choose the healthier options on the menu, forego the side orders, restrict the number of courses you have, don't have the coffee to finish, any or all of these will keep you on your healthy diet.
A healthy diet won't just happen, it doesn't work just to give up this or that, or to go on some fad diet. If you are in for the long haul, and you could be living to a hundred, you need to be on a healthy balanced diet for the rest of your life. Not a weight loss diet but a balanced one. This will not happen unless you put in the time and effort to plan a strategy and set some healthy eating goals.
Trish is a life coach and author who specializes in health wellness and relationships. For full details of healthy eating and wellbeing visit http://www.wellbeing-information.com
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