As health awareness continues to rise, Americans are changing their eating habits. Healthier food choices are now available at Fast Food chained restaurants; Organic sections are growing inside grocery stores; Restaurants are buying locally farmed food and serving grass fed beef. We are frequently seeing advertisements that restaurants are using "real chicken", "real fruit", and "real cheese" in their dishes. What kind of "unreal" food were they serving before?
We have been an unhealthy society for so long that it is confusing to determine what healthy is. We have been living in a fast paced world where the demand for fast food is high. Foods are made with preservatives to last longer; we buy foods that are pre-cooked, canned, or frozen. The meat that we buy is that of an animal that has been kept in a confined unhealthy facility, fattened up with an unhealthy diet, reinforced with antibiotics so they don't die from it all.
How about all of the food and diet fads? Just to name a few, remember the fat free fad? People assumed that if they were eating something fat free they could eat more of it. Instead of fat free we witnessed an increase in obesity. How about the sugar free fad? Artificial sweeteners were the popular sugar substitutes. It seemed like sugar was a freebie and you can have as much as you want because it wasn't really sugar. Since artificial sweeteners are much sweeter than sugar I think it resulted in getting people hooked to more sugary tastes. It wasn't long before controversy arose about the possible health risks. Lastly, and the one I remember the most because I was in my early college years trying to lose a few pounds myself, the protein diet! I remember eating fried eggs with bacon, packing as much protein and cheese in my daily diet and eating whipped cream for dessert. I think I lost 5 pounds, gained 10 back and increased my cholesterol!
Now that we have access to "healthier choices", are they necessarily healthy? French Fries that are fried in newer oils that have zero trans fats and lower saturated fats are healthier but are still not a healthy eating choice. Grass fed beef is known to have less total fat, saturated fat, and calories than corn fed beef. Is it healthy to eat grass fed beef often? Not really, while red meat is a good source of protein and iron, if consumed regularly there are several health risks associated.
If you were to ask me what a healthy diet would be I would recommend a diet which consists of fruits and vegetables, lean meats and fish, beans, legumes, raw nuts, whole grains; dairy, cheese, and healthy oils in moderation. Not only is what you eat important, it's also how you prepare it. It's better to eat raw fruits and vegetables to benefit from their nutrients. Lean meats should be prepared in healthier oils such as peanut, grape seed, or olive oil. Grilled, broiled, poached and boiled foods are healthier to eat then fried foods.
Eating healthy is a dedicated effort. I love the taste of healthy foods and feel best when I eat healthy. Do I eat healthy every day? The answer is no. I also enjoy eating pizza and hamburgers. What I try to do when eating these foods is incorporate healthier choices into those meals like making my hamburger with a whole wheat bun, or ordering a vegetarian pizza. You can make healthier eating choices every day. Whether you skipped the dessert, tried a new vegetable, or prepared a meal from scratch. It all counts as an effort to eating healthier. Another recommendation that I have is to eat real foods. What I mean is if you would like sugar with your tea, instead of using an artificial sweetener, try honey or use sugar but use half the amount that you would normally use. If you like mayonnaise in your turkey sandwich, try spreading fresh avocado for the same creamy texture or use less mayonnaise. The slightest change you make everyday will make a world of difference to your health long-term. Eat healthy, continue to learn to eat healthier, and pass it on...