With such a heavy emphasis on losing weight, we often leave out crucial aspects of a healthy diet. Unfortunately, this kind of weight loss is incredibly dangerous, as it cuts out the calories we need to survive. So, how do we maintain a healthy diet, and how do we do so without paying an arm and a leg for it?

What is Considered “Healthy”?

Firstly, we need a definition of what “healthy”  is. All foods contain nutrients and calories that we need, but managing their source is where the health portion comes in. The most common advice for those looking to eat healthier is to “have a rainbow of food on your plate”. This means having a wide variety of foods every day, including:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Proteins

The best way to achieve the rainbow is through single-ingredient food sources, meaning foods that haven’t been mass-produced for consumption.

Does This Mean I Have to go Vegan?

In short, no. While some people do choose to substitute animal products with other items of equal nutritional value, going vegan or eating vegetarian does not necessarily correlate with eating healthy. There are a variety of meats someone can eat to stay healthy, including lean meats like chicken and turkey, fish, and eggs. A steak now and then isn’t the end of the world either. People looking to cut out meat, nuts, beans, and tofu can provide a similar level of nutritional value. Jackfruit, chickpeas, and tempeh are also common meat alternatives.

Caloric Intake

Calories are a measurement of the energy stored in food. By just going about our day, we spend calories, and the body stores calories we don’t use for later. Because of this, each person needs to reach a specific number of calories per day, give or take several thousand. This number varies based on someone’s age and weight. If someone eats far more than their recommended caloric intake, the body will store it in excess, and they will gain weight.

However, if someone doesn’t eat their recommended number of calories in a day, the body will begin to process the calories it has in storage. If there are no stored calories, the body will take calories from vital organs and muscles. Thus, low-calorie diets can be highly detrimental and even deadly to someone’s health.

Overall

Eating a wide variety of food, including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean meats (or meat substitutes) is what doctors mean when they say “eat healthily”. For those looking to diet, counting calories may help, but low-calorie diets can be incredibly dangerous. If you would like to learn more about how you can make healthier choices and find the average number of calories you should be eating, speak with your doctor for specific information. Everyone’s needs and lifestyle are different!

 

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