What Does a Healthful Diet Actually Look Like?

In a world of fad diets and processed foods, learning how to actually stay healthy has never been more confusing. Not only that, but there’s just so much conflicting information out there. What one person claims to be medicine, another condemns it as poison.

Distinguishing between gimmicks, pseudoscience and downright bullshit is hard - but it doesn’t have to be impossible.

Dieting Fads That Are Just Dangerous

Whether you’re trying to lose weight or simply live a healthier lifestyle, you’ll almost certainly have heard of at least a few those infamous fad diets that cycle in and out of popularity.

Truth is: some of those fads aren’t just healthy, they’re downright dangerous. Below are two that you should steer clear of.

The Military Diet

Also known as the hot dog diet, the military diet involves eating foods like hot dogs and tuna in an attempt to lose weight - supposedly by boosting your metabolism and encouraging fat-burning.

According to experts, however, the myth that the military diet can help you to lose ten pounds in just a week is exactly that - a myth. Because your body thinks it's starving, you’re actually likely to pack on even more weight once you’ve ‘completed’ the diet.

Not only that, but processed meat isn’t good for anybody. Stick to the vegetables.

The Baby Food Diet

Baby food has a very specific target audience: babies. It isn’t meant to be eaten by adults. And yet, for some crazy reason unbeknownst to me, fitness guru Tracy Anderson reportedly was the first person to make the baby food diet a thing.

Instead of eating real and wholesome food, proponents of the baby food diet advise sticking to 14 jars of baby food a day. The baby food diet isn’t just crazy, it’s also pretty unhealthy. Don’t do it.

How to Actually Live Healthfully

Eating healthily doesn’t have to be difficult and you don’t have to resort to eating tinned sausages or baby food. Making simple changes to the way you live is all it takes.

Get Your Fruit and Vegetables

This one can’t be overstated enough. It’s so simple, and we all already know that we should, yet so few of us actually get enough fruit and vegetables into our diet. The 5-a-day rule - ensuring to eat a minimum of five pieces of fruit or vegetable, is an easy target to hit and one that comes with innumerable health benefits.

Getting in your plant foods doesn’t have to be difficult. Blend frozen fruits into smoothies, fry your favorite vegetables into a stir fry in minutes or roast them in the oven.

Eat More Oily Fish

Both meat and fish contain a wide variety of nutrients and vitamins, yet meat also comes with a whole host of adverse health effects and nasties attached. Instead, opting for oily fish is a tasty way to nourish your body with plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, contributing to brain and heart health.

Limit Saturated Fats and Sugar

While you need some types of fat in your diet to stay healthy, others are actually incredibly bad for us. Too much saturated fat can lead to increased cholesterol in the blood, putting you at greater risk of heart disease.

On average, men should have no more than an average 30g of saturated fat and women no more than an average of 20g of saturated fat per day. To reduce your intake of saturated fat, limit the following foods:

  • Fatty cuts of meat
  • Sausages
  • Dairy products
  • Processed foods

As well as cutting down saturated fat, you should also be mindful of how much sugar you’re consuming. High-sugar foods are sure to increase your risk of obesity, diabetes and tooth decay, as well as reducing your overall healthfulness.

The types of sugar you should aim to restrict are known as free sugars - such as those in fruit juices an processed foods. Instead, opt for whole foods like actual fruit and vegetables as these contain slower-releasing sugar - which is less likely to cause your blood sugar levels to spike.

Stop Skipping Breakfast

Last but not least - if you tend to skip breakfast, it’s time to stop that. A nutritious breakfast high in fiber and nutrients will provide you with some essential compounds necessary for overall good health and energy.

If you’re trying to lose weight by passing up on the most important meal of the day, some studies show that you might be achieving the opposite. Instead, opt for something light and healthful to get your metabolism in gear.