Eating a well-balanced diet is one of the most important things you can do to maintain good health. However, with all of the conflicting information out there, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. As a young adult in your 20s or 30s, establishing healthy habits now sets you up for a lifetime of good health. In this blog post, we’ll explore different aspects of nutrition and provide practical tips to help you make healthier choices.
Understand Macronutrients: Macronutrients are the three types of nutrients that provide the majority of our daily calories: carbohydrates, protein, and fat. It’s important to understand the role each macronutrient plays in our bodies and how much of each we should consume. Carbohydrates provide energy and should make up about 45-65% of our daily calories. Protein helps build and repair tissues and should make up about 10-35% of our daily calories. Fat helps with nutrient absorption and should make up about 20-35% of our daily calories.
Focus on Whole Foods: Eating a balanced diet of whole foods ensures that you’re getting a variety of essential nutrients. Whole foods include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. When possible, choose non-processed options and opt for fresh foods over canned or frozen. Preparing meals at home is a great way to control the quality of ingredients and avoid added sugars and unhealthy fats.
Stay Hydrated: Water is essential for maintaining energy levels and overall health. Aim for at least eight glasses of water per day and consider increasing your intake during exercise or in hot weather. If you struggle with drinking enough water, try adding fresh fruit or herbs to your water for a tasty twist (lemon extract is a easy and quick way to add more flavor to your water).
Keep an Eye on Portion Sizes: Even healthy foods can add up in calories if consumed in excess. Familiarize yourself with portion sizes and aim for a balanced plate. Half of your plate should be filled with non-starchy vegetables, a quarter with lean protein, and a quarter with complex carbohydrates. Use smaller plates and bowls, and try to listen to your body’s hunger and fullness cues to prevent overeating.
Practice Mindful Eating: Eating mindfully means paying attention to your food and your body’s needs. Avoid distractions like TV or your phone while eating, and take time to savor your food. Chew slowly and put your utensils down between bites. This helps you to tune in to your body’s fullness signals and can promote better digestion.
Making changes to your diet can seem daunting, but remember that small steps add up to big improvements. By focusing on whole foods, staying hydrated, being mindful of portions, and practicing mindful eating, you can improve your nutrition and feel better overall. It’s never too early (or too late) to establish healthy habits that will set you up for a lifetime of good health.