By Cindy Wu ’18
Having a healthy diet is much easier than it seems. It might be hard to adjust at first, but it is extremely beneficial in the long run. Most people automatically have the thought of being a vegetarian or going completely vegan when it comes to eating healthy. However, it is much simpler than that.
To start off, it is extremely important to avoid consuming too much sugar. The sweet substance is a true killer; it speeds up the aging process, and may lead to deficiencies in memory, depression, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Adolescent obesity rates have tripled over the last 30 years and childhood obesity rates have doubled and the main cause is sugar! The maximum amount of added sugars you should eat daily is 37.5 grams for men, 25 grams for women and 16 grams for children. However, due to the amount of processed foods that contain loads of sugar, it is extremely hard not to exceed the daily sugar intake. For example, a small can of Coca Cola already contains 33 grams of sugar! So instead, substitute sugary drinks and snacks with fruits and nuts. Fruits are not only a natural sweetener and prevent chronic diseases, but it is also a good source of getting vitamins and minerals.
It is crucial to cut out processed foods. It’s even hard for me to say, but we have to say no to foods like bacon and ramen. The reason these foods taste good is because they are loaded with saturated fat (the bad fat!) which can lead to obesity and many other diseases. These foods are packed with high levels of sodium which can lead to high blood pressure and eventually stroke. Instead of choosing man-made foods filled with chemicals, go for natural foods like lean meats, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables.
You might like this one… but don’t skip meals! Many people skip meals in hopes of losing weight. However, developing a habit of skipping meals can lead to anorexia nervosa or binge eating. Your body needs a steady supply of nutrients in order to function properly. When you skip meals, your body goes to starvation mode, which decreases your metabolism and causes your body to store excess calories. It is recommended to eat around 4-5 meals a day, with no more than 4 hours in between. Sleeping is an exception, of course— that’s why breakfast is the most important meal of the day. When you skip meals, you also tend to eat more whenever you have the chance. Each meal should be balanced and you should only eat up to 80% full. Why only 80%? It’s because it takes approximately 20 minutes for your brain to realize you’re full, so by the time you feel stuffed, you’re actually overeating. Overeating puts pressure on your stomach, causing the skin to stretch and making you want to eat even more. So what should you do? Eat regularly and acknowledge the amount you’re eating to maintain healthy eating habits.
Last but not least, stay hydrated! Water is needed by all the cells and organs in the body in order for them to function properly. We obtain water through foods with high water content like soup or fruits. A majority is also gained through drinking water and other beverages. However, water is the best substitute for any drink. Other beverages may contain added sugars and artificial flavors, and are high in calories. During normal everyday functions, water is constantly lost —when we sweat, urinate, and even breathe— and it is important that we replace it. Not drinking enough water can lead to problems in the kidneys. Your kidneys are super important! They do an amazing job of cleansing and ridding your body of toxins. Lack of water also leads to dehydration; severe dehydration can lead to death. So how much water should you drink every day? This can be different for everyone, depending on your health, where you live, and how active you are. Some people need to drink more water than others, and some can get away with not drinking a lot every day. For men, it is recommended to take about 13 cups a day, and for women, about 9 cups a day. So next time you leave the house, don’t forget to bring a bottle of water!
If you want to take eating healthy to the next level, you can try creating a vegetarian or vegan based diet. Being vegetarian or vegan usually means you have to cut meat products out of your diet. However, there are many plant based diets for you to try.
- Pollo-vegetarian diets includes poultry and sometimes fish.
- Pesco-vegetarian diets includes fish.
- Lacto-ovo vegetarian diets includes dairy products and eggs.
- Lacto vegetarian diets includes dairy products.
- Vegan diets doesn’t contain any animal products.
Winny Chen ’18 said, “I went vegan for ethical reasons because I’m against animal suffering. So veganism isn’t just a diet to me, it’s a lifestyle. Being vegan, I noticed I have clearer skin and more energy throughout the day. My stomach also doesn’t feel heavy because it is easier to digest food compared to a meat diet.”
Frewdy Acevedo ‘17 noted, “I keep track of everything I eat by staying aware of how much sugar or carbs I’m taking everyday. This is necessary because I want to make sure that I’m getting nutrients in healthy manners from foods that are rich in nutrients, and not through junk food. This, alongside physical activity, has improved my health. It has made me fitter and has led to healthy habits such as wanting to eat healthier and being more energized and happy all around.”
Ivy Zhang ‘17 said, “I love eating fruits, especially berries because they are packed with antioxidants. Vegetables with vibrant colors are good for you because that usually means they are healthy. However, if there’s a cake or something you really want, EAT IT. If you deprive yourself, you might end up bingeing.”
Whether you decide to change your diet to more plant based or not, it is still important to maintain healthy eating habits. However, of course everyone has their own guilty pleasure foods which usually isn’t healthy. For example, I really like dessert, especially cheesecake. However, eating cheesecake can be unhealthy because it’s high in sugar, and not to mention, extremely pricey overtime! It is good to treat yourself to these foods once in a while to not only satisfy your cravings but to also congratulate yourself for maintaining a healthy diet. It is important to take out the unnecessary and harmful foods, replacing them with healthier choices, but most importantly to have fun and enjoy your food.