The road to healthy eating isn’t a single path at all, but more like a multiple, varied routes up a mountainside. Assemble ten dieticians, nutritionists, or health experts, and you’re likely to hear ten different forms of advice. In essence, the best route to optimal health is to attune yourself to your body’s specific needs and eat accordingly. While that may seem simple, there is sometimes a harsh learning curve before one truly learns to “listen” to the body’s needs and to respond appropriately. In the meantime, following a few basic guidelines can go a long way.
One of the first steps you can take toward improved health is to observe and identify which foods leave you feeling energized and well. In most cases, the best place to start is by narrowing down your diet to include plenty of whole, natural foods that do not contain any processed or ready-made ingredients. Often, simply making that one change to your diet can have a startling effect on your overall health. If you’re uncertain which foods should “make the cut”, remember a standby line of advice: don’t eat any foods with ingredients that your grandmother wouldn’t recognize. In other words, eat dishes made with unprocessed ingredients, and cook meals at home, instead of relying on restaurants, fast food shops, or grocery deli counters.
For most individuals, the next most important step is to recalibrate how the relative portions that they consume from various food groups. In many western countries, the average diet includes large amounts of carbohydrates in the form of processed wheat or corn. Often, these products appear in processed foods as flour, cornstarch, or corn syrup. Simply by reducing your intake of these “simple starch” carbohydrates, you can usually trigger long-lasting change and overall better health.
As long as you’re removing processed foods and reducing the simple starches in your diet, it’s a good idea to increase your relative intake of more nutrient-rich, natural foods. As a rule of thumb, most modern diets benefit from an increase of fresh fruits and vegetables. Depending on your particular constitution and health issues, you may also benefit from a shift to include more protein sources, whether animal-based proteins, nuts, legumes, or cheeses. As for carbohydrates, it’s generally advisable to consume whole-grain alternatives to the highly refined forms of wheat that lines most supermarket shelves.
In essence, there’s no single recipe or trick for better health and wiser eating. As many traditional forms of medicine attest, eating a healthy diet can serve as powerful preventative medicine. However, most traditional cuisines and forms of dietary advice offer distinct recommendations according to each individual’s needs. For example, certain forms of dairy may prove extremely beneficial to one person and highly harmful to another. For that reason, before taking any drastic steps to change your diet, it’s generally a good idea to consult with a qualified advisor who can give you a thorough check-up and then give further dietary advice, accordingly.