In order to reap the mass benefits of healthy eating, it is important that you adopt a diet of nutrient-heavy products from all major food groups, including lean proteins, healthy fats, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Along with making additions to your diet, to feel the full extent of healthy eating benefits you’ll also have to cut down on harmful foods which have been saturated in trans fats, as well as added salts, sugars, and artificial colouring.
Let’s be honest, we all know how important a healthy diet is; we’ve all been taught about the food pyramid and other similar variants at some point in our adolescence. However, even the most enthusiastic fitness lovers still fail to properly understand the benefits of healthy eating.
If you fall into this category have no fear, as here at OriGym we’re going to delve into the benefits of eating healthy by tackling the following topics:
- What is Considered to Be a Healthy Diet?
- 13 Benefits of Healthy Eating
- Foods That You Should Consider Cutting Out
But before we begin to dissect the benefits of healthy eating, we have to ask, have you ever considered a career in the fitness and nutrition industry? If so, OriGym’s formally accredited personal training courses can help you break into the industry immediately upon graduation.
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What is Considered to Be a Healthy Diet?
Without a basic understanding of what a healthy diet consists of, discussing the benefits will be entirely irrelevant, therefore we are beginning this article by shedding light on the concept of a ‘balanced diet.
By knowing what food groups to focus on and how much you should be consuming, you will be able to improve your diet on your own accord and avoid a robotic bland diet that you may usually associate with balanced diets and healthy eating.
When faced with the question: ‘what are the benefits of eating a healthy diet?’, please keep in mind that all these food groups can improve our bodies in different ways. However, this does not mean that one should be prioritised over the others, instead, you should always strive to achieve a balanced diet.
Within this section, we will briefly touch on the five major food groups to appear within the food pyramid and share information relating to their nutritional benefits.
#1 - Fruits and Vegetables
When many of us think about the benefits of eating healthy food, we typically think of consuming fruit and vegetables, with a particular focus placed on getting our ‘5-A-Day’ into our daily diet.
This recommended amount isn’t as hard to consume as many of us believe it to be, in fact, you can incorporate fruit and veg it into your diet at every mealtime for an added boost of minerals, vitamins, and fiber.
‘5-A-Day’ is a popular term used to describe the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables you should be consuming within a day. Though this may be common knowledge to some, this recommendation isn’t the literal case of eating say 5 singular raspberries or grapes, but rather refers to 5 portions. It is also worth noting that portions will vary depending on the food product itself.
If you’re looking to reach your 5-A-Day goal we recommend the following measurements to act as one portion, as well as a suggested way you can incorporate them into your daily routine:
- 80g of frozen fruit of your choice - You can add this into your overnight oats or yoghurt, letting them defrost overnight.
- 30g of dried fruit such as raisins or apricots - These can make a great addition to a fortified cereal, providing you with a sweet addition to your morning.
- 150ml of fruit juice or smoothies - This can be consumed at any time of the day, try to only drink one a day as the natural sugars may cause damage to your teeth over time.
- 1 apple/pear/banana - Eating a whole fruit of this size can act as a healthy snack during the day and keep hunger pains at bay.
- 1 slice of melon or pineapple - These can also act as quick and simple snacks to have throughout the day.
- 3 heaped tablespoons of vegetables - All you salad lovers out there will be able to make a nice lunch for yourself by incorporating multiple different vegetables into one meal. With several different vegetables included you could realistically eat your 5-A-Day with just this one meal.
- 1 large vegetable such as broccoli, cauliflower, or carrots - Have this with your evening meal ensuring they are of fairly decent size.
This helpful guide should make eating your 5-A-Day a breeze and once incorporated into your daily routine you will be feeling the benefits of healthy eating before you know it. More information about 5 a day portion sizes can be found on the NHS website.
Additionally, don’t let extreme food blogs or influencers sway you into thinking that raw fruit and veg is the only ‘proper’ way to get these into your diet. You can still feel the benefits of eating healthy food by incorporating canned, frozen, dried, and juiced fruit and veg variations into your diet.
If you’re interested in learning more about how you can fuel your body with similar foods why not read our list of the 23 best super fruits.
#2 - Starchy Foods
Contrary to some beliefs, the benefits of eating healthy food can also be felt when consuming starch-heavy foods. These foods are the base of the food pyramid and should typically cover about a third of what you consume in a day.
Many wrongly assume that to feel the benefits of healthy eating that you should cut starch out entirely, as starch-heavy foods have been previously linked to weight gain. However, at OriGym we recommend consuming whole grain or whole wheat variations of your favourite starch-heavy food in order to avoid this weight gaining pitfall.
These recommended foods include brown rice, wholewheat pasta, brown, wholemeal, and high fiber white bread. These foods will allow you to feel the benefits of healthy eating as they contain more fiber, vitamins, and minerals than their plain white counterparts and won’t bloat you in the long run.
Additionally, if you’re a lover of potatoes, don’t worry as the skins of these tasty root vegetables are also packed with beneficial fibers and vitamins. Next time you find yourself eating a jacket potato, be sure to eat the skin too in order to feel the full health benefits of eating healthy.
#3 - Dairy and Alternative Foods
Those who follow a dairy-free or vegan lifestyle are often told that they won’t feel the benefits of eating a healthy diet, due to the fact that they do not consume dairy related products. However, this simply isn’t true as you still receive these health benefits from consuming alternatives such as soya.
Soya in particular is noted to be the most efficient dairy alternative for providing the body with calcium. However, you can alternatively purchase calcium-fortified variations of your personal favorites such as oat, almond, and coconut milk.
Regardless of whether you consume pure dairy or its alternate counterparts, we strongly advise you to always consume lower fat and sugar options when possible. These will often be advertised as such, or may simply be referred to as semi-skimmed, skimmed or 1% fat.
Due to the naturally high-fat content of dairy the recommended servings can vary from product to product, be sure to always read the nutrition label for further information and general guidance.
However, we will provide a general outline of what is recommended by the British Heart Foundation, note that this does not specify a particular brand and some may be more harmful than others:
- Cheese Ideally Low-fat (Brie/Edam/Cambert) - 1 Index finger in length, 1 finger tips in height.
- Low-fat Cream Cheese - 2 Tablespoons
- Regular Cream Cheese - 1 Tablespoon
- Cottage Cheese - 3 Tablespoons
- Milk of Your Choice - 200ml
- Low-Fat Yoghurt - 4 Tablespoons
- Natural Yoghurt - 3 Tablespoons
- Creme Fraiche - 2 Teaspoons
Milk alternatives have grown significantly in popularity in recent years, our article on whether oat milk is good for you is sure to be informative for both fans and naysayers.
#4 - Proteins
Once again, this section of the food pyramid is the subject of much controversy, as many argue that in order to obtain the benefits of eating healthy foods that are rich in protein you must eat meat. However, we’re here to dispel that myth as there is plenty of protein to be found in foods suitable for those living a vegetarian/vegan/plant-based lifestyle
Protein can be found in beans, pulses, fish, eggs, and meat, all of which contain a variety of proteins that can be beneficial for your diet.
Meat is not only a good source of protein but contains iron, zinc, and B vitamins - all of which play a significant role in achieving optimal health. Try to prioritise lean cuts and skinless poultry to reduce fat intake, and avoid red processed meat such as bacon, ham, and sausages when possible.
As alternative sources of protein, fish, and eggs also contain a high number of vitamins and minerals. Eggs contain vitamins B2, B12, and D, they have also been shown to reduce the risk of high cholesterol levels and heart diseases.
Whereas fish are high sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which you are recommended to consume at least twice a week, with one of these instances being an oily fish such as salmon or mackerel. Once again don’t feel confined to only consuming the fresh option, frozen and canned fish can still provide these benefits, but keep in mind canned may contain extra salt.
Beans and pulses, including lentils and peas, can also provide the body with high levels of protein, as well as fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Many include nuts in this category, and whilst unsalted variants are good for you in moderation keep in mind they will still be somewhat high in fat content.
#5 - Unsaturated Fats
Ensuring that your diet has some fat content is essential, but a common mistake many make is consuming too many saturated fats. These foods include fatty cuts of food, cheddar cheese, biscuits, and cake.
Instead, get your fat intake from unsaturated foods, oils, and spreads such as:
- Nuts and Seeds
- Oily Fish
- Oils from nuts, plants, and seeds
On average it is recommended that you should consume 22 grams of unsaturated fats a day, to get an accurate measurement of what this includes be sure to always read the nutrition label of any foods you consume.
Now that we have tackled the question ‘what are the benefits of eating a healthy diet?’, from an individualistic perspective, we can now focus on the holistic benefits of consuming a balanced diet of all of the above-mentioned food groups.
13 Benefits of Healthy Eating
#1 - Weight Loss
When discussing the benefits of eating healthy foods the immediate response from many is that a balanced diet can aid with weight loss.
This is largely due to the fact that foods such as fruits, vegetables, and beans are low in calories, the factor which significantly contributes to weight gain and obesity in the first place. It is often advised that individuals who are looking to lose weight should count calories, with the recommended daily intake being 2,000 for women and 2,500 for men.
Due to their low-calorie nature, you should be able to consume a greater amount of fruit, vegetables, and beans, which in turn will keep you full for longer periods of time reducing the risk of snacking or overeating.
However, to truly feel the benefits of healthy eating a balanced diet is required, meaning you must consume other food groups too. Dietary fiber such as plant-based meat alternatives is also known to keep hunger pains at bay, reducing the risk of overeating or unhealthy snacking.
Finally, no balanced diet would be complete without some form of protein, just be sure to avoid those that are high in salt content, as this high count could also result in bloating and weight gain.
In fact, research recently highlighted that one of the benefits of eating healthy foods is that weight loss can be achieved without calorie counting. Within this study, investigators noted that a combination of lean protein and rich fiber resulted in a greater amount of weight loss.
If you’re interested in learning more about weight loss and dietary management you should consider signing up for OriGym’s Level 4 Obesity & Weight Management Course to put your passion towards a career.
#2 - Diabetes Management
An issue that is regularly linked with obesity is Type-2 Diabetes, which is the result of spiking glucose levels throughout the body. As a result of these spikes, your body can no longer regulate its own glucose levels, and the pancreas will not be able to keep up with the production of insulin.
However, as a result of eating healthily, you can reduce these glucose spikes from occurring, which will prevent and/or delay the onset of Type-2 Diabetes from occurring. But the question remains, what should you consume if you want to feel these benefits of eating healthy food?
The answer is simple, you should still be striving to consume a diet that is completely balanced. For example, you should feel the physical benefits of healthy eating if you consume the following:
- Leafy Green Vegetables: Vegetables such as kale, lettuce and pak choi can successfully reduce the risk of developing Type-2 Diabetes, due to their high antioxidant and starch-dissolving content.
- Whole Grains and Wheat: This includes brown rice, whole grain pasta and quinoa, which impact less on our blood sugar thanks to lower glycemic index levels when compared to the likes of white bread and pasta.
- Sweet Potatoes: Similarly to whole grains and wheats, sweet potatoes contain a lower glycemic index level than white potatoes. This means that they are less likely to interfere with your blood sugar levels.
- Fatty Fish: The term fatty fish can relate to the likes of salmon, mackerel and sardines, all of which are high in Omega-3 fatty acids. This in turn can lower the risk of Type-2 Diabetes as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are known to control blood sugar and lipid levels.
Therefore, we can say that in order to experience this physical benefit of healthy eating you must ensure to maintain a balanced diet, with elements of each food group working together to battle and reduce rising glucose levels.
#3 - Improved Heart Health
We now turn our attention to another example of the health benefits of eating healthy, which relates to the health and functionality of your heart. Adults across the world are plagued with cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension and high blood pressure, which in turn could lead to strokes, heart attacks, and heart failure.
The development of these cardiovascular diseases is for the most part preventable and can be influenced by your diet. To ensure this physical benefit of healthy eating is affecting your heart, here at OriGym we strongly advise ensuring you have a healthy balanced diet.
In particular, we advise increasing your intake of beans, nuts, fruit, vegetables, and whole grains, whilst opting for fat-free dairy products and lean protein alternatives.
However, the benefits of eating healthy snacks and foods extend far beyond what we recommend you should eat, in essence, that is only half the argument. Developing a better understanding of how your diet affects your cardiovascular health requires you to know what foods to avoid.
In order to ensure your heart is not negatively affected reduce your consumption of:
- Fatty meats
- Full-fat dairy products
- Trans fats
- Added sugars
- Sodium content
If you’re looking to improve your heart health you need to pair a balanced diet with the right exercise routine. Cardio and Aerobic exercise benefit the heart more than any other workout, so be sure to focus on incorporating these into your daily life.
#4 - Improved Gut Health
Whilst we’re on the topic of the health benefits of eating healthy we will now also discuss the effects of your diet on your gut.
The colon is filled with naturally occurring bacteria, all of which plays differing roles in the process of digestion and metabolism. However, whilst some strains are beneficial to your overall gut health, some of the bacteria can be harmful and to keep these at bay you need to maintain your gut microbiome
One of the benefits of eating healthy is that your bodies ‘good’ bacteria will produce vitamins B and K, which will ensure that harmful bacteria and pathogens will be killed. Alternatively, a poor diet consisting of high sugar and fat levels can cause inflammation and discomfort within the gut and will leave you more susceptible to disease and illness.
If you’re looking to experience these physical benefits of healthy eating then we advise incorporating a high content of vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains into your diet. Additionally, you should work on adding fermented foods high in prebiotics and probiotics into your daily meals.
Prebiotics and probiotics are examples of ‘good’ bacterias which thrive in the colon, they can be found in foods such as:
Whatsmore, as part of a balanced diet a strong intake of fiber can also help to promote gut health, by improving bowel movements and reducing the risk of colon cancer.
#5 - Reduces the Risk of Developing Cancer
The reduced risk of developing cancer is arguably one of the strongest responses one can make in regards to the question ‘what are the benefits of eating healthy?’. But how exactly does a balanced diet help to reduce this risk?
The answer lies in antioxidant-rich foods which protect your body's cells from being damaged by free radicals (a known cause of most cancers). Fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes contain many phytochemicals which act as antioxidants, these chemicals include beta-carotene, lycopene, and vitamin A, C, and E
Research conducted in 2014 supports the claim that the physical benefits of healthy eating can be extended to cancer prevention. The fruit was noted to be particularly effective for reducing upper gastrointestinal tract cancers, whilst vegetables and fiber lowered the risk of colorectal and liver cancer.
Therefore, as an example of the benefits of healthy eating, we can say that a balanced diet rich in antioxidants will reduce your risk of developing multiple different cancers. For examples of antioxidant-rich food please refer to the brief list provided below.
- Berries - Blueberries and Raspberries in particular
- Pumpkins and Carrots
- Unsalted Nuts and Seeds
- Dark Leafy Greens
#6 - Development of Strong Bones and Teeth
If you’re looking to feel the bone-related benefits of eating a healthy diet, then calcium and magnesium will be your best friends. Ensuring that your bones are strong and healthy will prevent conditions such as osteoporosis from developing.
Calcium is a mineral that can only be found in the food that we consume, and our bodies simply cannot make it by itself. However, please note that many consumers choose to solely focus on the consumption of calcium for bone health, but if your diet lacks vitamin D then the calcium won't be absorbed by your body at all.
It’s common knowledge that dairy products are high in calcium, however, many of you may have been left questioning what vitamin D-rich foods can be consumed in order to feel the benefits of healthy eating?
Vitamin D-rich foods include proteins and fortified cereals, whereas magnesium-rich foods can be found in the form of leafy green vegetables, seeds and nuts. All of this further supports the argument of a balanced diet being required to achieve the physical benefits of healthy eating, as dairy, protein, vegetables, seeds, and nuts are all required to develop bone health.
If you live a vegetarian/vegan/plant-based lifestyle have no fear as many of your favourite alternatives are often fortified with these added benefits.
For ideas of what food you can consume in order to experience the benefits of healthy eating, we have provided three shortlists below:
Vitamin D Rich Foods:
- Proteins - Red meats and Eggs
- Fortified cereals
- Fat based spreads
Magnesium Rich Foods:
- Leafy greens - Lettuce, Kale, Pak Choi
- Flax, Chia and Pumpkin Seeds
- Almond, Cashew, and Brazil Nuts
If you’re enjoying this article on the Benefits of Healthy Eating then we think you may also like these OriGym articles:
- The 18 Best Vegan and Vegetarian Protein Sources
- The Carnivore Diet: Food List & Nutrition Guide
- Can a Personal Trainer Give Nutritional Advice?
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#7 - Boosts Your Energy
One of the most converted physical benefits of healthy eating is a boosted rate of energy. If you find yourself falling asleep behind your desk or suffering from a general feeling of sluggishness, then you must prioritise balancing your diet.
Complex carbohydrates are your body’s preferred form of fuel, due to the fact that they can quickly convert your glucose into energy. However, if you want to truly raise these levels we’d recommend pairing carbs with a source of protein.
This combination will eventually lead to longer-lasting energy levels, as the rate in which carbs are burnt will slow down, allowing your body to distribute the stored fuel throughout the day.
While pursuing the benefits of healthy eating many consumers wrongly assume that they should cut out any and all fats. However, our bodies need fats just as much as they need the other food groups, the trick is to only consume the good kinds in smaller amounts.
The way in which fats boost our energy levels is actually an example of the mental health benefits of eating healthy. Fats can trigger the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that can reduce feelings of tiredness.
Your energy levels will therefore feel the benefits of eating healthy snacks and foods that are balanced in carbs, fats and protein. Consume foods of this nature when you need energy the most, ideally for breakfast or lunch before a long workday or just before an intense workout.
Protein That Boosts Energy
- Lean Meats
- Cottage Cheese
Carbs That Boost Energy
- Brown Rice
- Sweet Potato
Good Fats That Boost Energy
At OriGym we have gone into greater detail on this topic within the article 37 best foods for energy.
#8 - Improves Sleeping Pattern
Another example of the benefits of eating healthy foods is that your sleeping pattern will significantly improve, a perk that everyone can get behind and enjoy!
An improved sleeping pattern has been linked to the consumption of numerous nutrient-rich foods. In particular, research shows that a diet that lacks magnesium, calcium, vitamins A, C, D, E, and K will often cause sleep-related complications.
It is believed that a balanced diet can aid with the hormonal pathways associated with sleep, whereas a diet that is unhealthy will negatively impact these bodily hormones.
Additionally, a diet rich in complex carbohydrates is also known to improve your sleeping pattern, especially when consumed 4 hours before bedtime. However, please keep in mind that these carbohydrates must be high in glycemic indexes, like foods such as:
- Brown Rice
- Rice Cakes
- Baked Potato
- Breakfast Cereals
However, be sure to not over-consume high glycemic foods, as with anything they should only be eaten in moderation as part of a balanced diet. These foods can have some negative side effects if consumed in high amounts, which we will touch upon within our next point.
We can conclude this by saying that the benefit of eating healthy food and a balanced diet, is that you’ll have an improved night of sleep. Whatsmore, you will be less likely to develop sleep-related conditions such as sleep apnea.
#9 - Improves Mental Health
Within the previous point, we briefly mentioned how your mental health can be affected by the food you eat, and how a balanced diet can improve the brain’s hormone distribution.
If you’re looking to combat negative feelings you should strive to consume a balanced diet, as the unique mental health benefits of healthy eating can be found in every food group.
We have already discussed the important role carbs play in regulating your mood through sleep. These types of food reduce the negative feelings surrounding exhaustion, such as anxiousness and irritability in favour of relaxing you and promoting a state of relaxation.
However, as stated above whilst high glycemic foods can improve your sleeping quality, over-consumption can negatively impact our bodies, with our mental health being particularly sensitive to these types of foods. In 2016, the research highlighted how these types of foods are more likely to cause depression.
To avoid overconsumption of one particular food group, OriGym advises finding a balanced meal plan that will allow you to reap the mental health benefits of eating a healthy diet.
Vegetables, fruits, and grains, for example, are known to be low-glycemic foods and contain folate, a mineral that has been known to reduce depressive thoughts.
Foods that are rich in folate are:
- Fortified Cereals
These mental health benefits of eating healthy also extend to protein and fats, these contain important amino acids that help to regulate thoughts and feelings. Be aware that we are referring to the good fats such as omega-3 and omega-6, both of which have been linked to an improved mood and heightened sense of happiness.
If you’re looking to learn more about amino acids click here for our article dedicated to dissecting their benefits and structure.
Foods High in Amino Acids Include:
- Cottage Cheese
- Oily Fish
Therefore, we can say that a balanced diet will significantly help your mental wellbeing, as each group has beneficial properties that are unique to individualistic food groups.
#10 - Reduces The Effects of Dementia
The final example of the mental health benefits of eating healthy food is that a balanced diet can vastly improve your memory, whilst also improving your brain health and reducing the risk of cognitive decline.
Cognitive decline is the leading cause of brain-related illnesses and conditions such as dementia, and these changes within your brain can begin before you’re even aware. However, foods that are rich in nutrients can combat these changes, with the vital necessities being found in every food group.
Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids have been noted to have neuroprotective properties, which can prevent Alzhiemer’s. Research supports this, as it has been noted that patients who suffer from Alzheimer’s and other cognitive-related illnesses have lower levels of omega-3 in their bodies.
Whatsmore, flavonoids and polyphenols have been known to reduce the effects of age related illnesses such as dementia. The benefits of eating healthy food packed with flavonoids and polyphenols are felt due to the fact that they enhance vascular blood flow to the brain, ensuring neuroprotective effectiveness against harmful free radicals.
Finally, foods that are rich in vitamins D and E have also been shown to provide neuroprotection, combating the harmful effects of cognitive-related illnesses such as dementia. Many patients who suffer from both Alzheimer's and dementia have been found to be deficient in both vitamins D and E, so be sure to incorporate them both into your diet whenever possible.
Omega-3 Fatty Acid Foods:
- Oily Fish
- Nuts and Seeds
- Plant-Based Oils
- Red Cabbage
- Dark Chocolate
- Spices and Herbs
- Cocoa Powder
Vitamin D Foods:
- Fortified Tofu
Vitamin E Foods:
- Sunflower Seeds
- Butternut Squash
#11 - Helps Children Psychological and Physically Develop
We’ll now shift our focus ever so slightly to discuss the benefits of eating healthy for children, starting with how a balanced diet can positively impact your child's emotional and physical development.
Working with children is a viable career option that many trainers don’t often explore, but if you’d like to learn how to become a personal trainer for kids check out this article.
During childhood nutrients such as folate, vitamin B6, and choline are required in order to synthesize neurotransmitters, which regulate mood and memory. An imbalance in these transmitters can lead to depression, anxiety, and irregular behaviour among children.
Childhood is also the year in which you experience the most significant amount of brain growth. Be sure to pack a child's plate with food that will benefit this process, an imbalanced diet can lead to children falling behind in their development.
Popular foods which have been noted to improve children’s psychological development are:
- Greek Yoghurt
The physical benefits of eating healthy for children are that certain foods can help them to develop and grow. Protein in particular is incredibly important for ensuring tissue repair and muscle growth.
Additionally, probiotics are also known to help support and develop children’s growth, thanks to the beneficial types of bacteria found in fermented foods.
Examples of foods that help children physically grow are:
- Leafy Greens
#12 - Boosts Children’s Immune Systems
These aren’t the only benefits of eating healthy for children as a balanced diet can also improve their immune system. As a parent, you want to do your best to protect your child from anything that comes their way and an effective way of doing this is packing their plates with beneficial goodness.
Fruits and vegetables are known to boost immunity levels among children, largely due to the fact that they are packed with antioxidants that combat any harmful pathogens or free radicals. Whatsmore, these foods are packed with helpful nutrients and vitamins that can boost the bodies’ natural immune system - especially citrus fruits with vitamin C.
Beneficial immune-boosting properties can also be found in protein too, regardless of whether you eat meat or live a vegetarian/vegan/plant-based lifestyle. The benefits of eating healthy for children is that protein can boost white blood cell levels, which in turn will fight off any harmful infections that enter their body.
Examples of immune-boosting foods are:
- Oranges & Grapefruits
- Meat & Fish
Therefore, when discussing the benefits of healthy eating for children we can clearly see just how important a balanced diet is, for ensuring that a child’s immune system is strong enough to maintain their health.
#13 - Better for the Environment
Throughout this article we have covered the physical and psychological benefits of eating healthy food, however, did you know that a balanced diet can also benefit the wider environment too.
Poor imbalanced diets can pose serious harm to the environment, the Western world's meat consumption is at an all-time high, with meat factories being one of the leading causes of air pollution on the planet. Likewise, fishing has had a huge effect on the ocean, with water pollution levels continuing to rise with every passing year.
This is not to say that you should cut meat and fish out of your diet entirely, however, relying on them less will allow you to focus on the less environmentally harmful plant-based alternatives.
When discussing the environmental effects of a meat and fish reliant diet with The Guardian, Professor Michael Clark of Oxford University stated that this way of eating cannot continue. If we as the human race progress at this current rate then we pose a risk to our own health, as well as a complete degradation of the earth's environment, ecosystem, and water sources.
Foods That You Should Consider Cutting Out
Now that we have talked at length about the benefits of healthy eating, we can turn our attention to foods that are potentially harmful to you, particularly when you're on a journey to fulfill more balanced eating habits.
Below we have provided a number of examples of foods that we encourage you to avoid when you’re making the effort to lead a healthy lifestyle. We have also offered some advice on how you can make alternative choices that are just as enjoyable and packed with nutritional benefits.
Now, please note that some of these foods are go-to favourites in many households, we’re not saying that you should deprive yourself of treats, however, these foods should be eaten in moderation rather than consumed regularly.
#1 - Pizza
Pizza is a crowd favourite, mostly due to its limitless flavours and variations, nevertheless, shop-bought frozen pizzas are some of the worst foods that can be added to your basket when you’re looking for foods that provide balanced nutritional benefits.
This is largely due to its reliance on refined dough, processed meat, and excessive salt levels. Ultimately, shop-bought pizza is typically higher in calories, salt content, sugar levels, and saturated fats when compared to most other junk foods that line the shelves.
Instead, we recommend that you fuel your body with healthy fats, a list of which can be found on our blog.
Solution: Good news, you don’t have to cut out pizza entirely to maintain a balanced diet, in fact the healthier alternatives are simple to execute and are just as delicious to eat.
Restaurants typically offer much healthier options compared to their frozen counterparts, whilst this may be a little more expensive the health benefits and fresh taste will be worth it in the long run. Even better yet, making homemade pizza in your free time allows you to be in direct control over everything you consume.
#2 - Sweetened Cereals
Breakfast cereals are typically made with oats, grains, rice, wheat and corn, none of which are harmful on their own accord. However, in order to make them appealing to their target market, which is predominantly young children, these cereals are then coated, roasted, shredded or flaked in high amounts of added sugar and artificial flavours.
The worst offenders of which include popular brands such as: Shreddies, Coco Pops and Weetabix Banana. Even seemingly healthy choices, such as Crunchy Nut Granola, have high levels of salt, so be sure to always read the nutrition labels before purchase.
Solution: Choose cereals that are high in fiber and low in added sugar. Alternatively, you could always make porridge with your own choice of toppings to ensure you have direct dietary control.
#3 - Pastries, Biscuits, and Cakes
This one is pretty much a given but pre-packaged treats can be incredibly unhealthy for you when consumed in excess.
Packaged pastries, biscuits, and cakes will be packed with refined sugars and wheat flour, as well as excess levels of added fats. Shortening, which is an unhealthy trans fat, is sometimes added which gives these treats their irresistible taste.
Solution: An easy solution is to eat these snacks in moderation. However, if you want a daily snack we’d recommend greek yogurt, fresh fruit, or dark chocolate instead.
#4 - Chips and Crisps
While white potatoes are very healthy on their own, but the same can’t be said for chips and crisps.
These potato products are often very high in calories, which is a danger considering just how mourish and addictive these are to eat. Whatsmore, they often contain large amounts of acrylamides, which can cause nerve damage in severe cases when consumed in mass quantities.
Solution: Oven-baked chips are a great and less calorie-heavy alternative that can be made from the comfort of your own home. Alternatively, you can consume other potato based products such as jackets or boiled potatoes.
These are only a few examples of unhealthy foods that should only be consumed in moderation. These food examples were purposely chosen as they are favourites for many of us, and being aware of viable alternatives will only provide our bodies with healthier resources.
How Do I Get My Children to Eat Healthy Foods?
Discussing the benefits of eating healthy for children is one thing, but putting this theory into practice is an entirely different ball game. Children aren’t always the biggest fans of healthy foods, so you may have to come up with a few creative ways of ensuring that they consume this desired balanced diet.
At OriGym, we have some fun ideas of how you can incorporate healthy foods into your kid’s diet:
Leafy Greens - The benefits of eating healthy leafy greens has been discussed at length in this article. We’d advise you to mix these vegetables in with smoothies or omelets, ensuring that they are well concealed if you have kids who aren’t fans of green.
Fish - The only time children typically enjoy this dish is when it comes in the form of fish fingers. But if you want to serve other variations be sure to grill it and serve with a dipping sauce.
Alternatively, swap meat for fish in your family favourites, such as tacos, pies, and burgers. They are equally as delicious and will be less intimidating as they look familiar.
Nuts - Children are not typically the biggest fans of nuts, mostly due to their hard texture and somewhat plain taste. We’d recommend serving children peanut butter or pesto, which will be easier for them to swallow and can be incorporated into more meals.
Oats - Oats are a breakfast staple in just about every country in the world, and the trick to getting your children to eat it is to customise it to their preferences. This could include adding honey, fruit or cinnamon, or anything that is low in added sugar and fats.
Is There an Ideal Plan For Those Looking To Eat a Balanced Diet?
The Mediterranean diet is often recommended to those who are looking to start eating a balanced diet. If you’re unfamiliar with what this entails, it simply refers to a meal plan which strives to incorporate every food group in order to ensure your body feels the full benefits of eating healthy.
To follow a Mediterranean diet it is recommended that you:
- Eat plenty of starchy foods - Preferably wholewheat variations of bread and pasta
- Consume higher amounts of fruits and vegetables
- Incorporate a greater amount fish/alternative sources of protein into your diet
- Cut back on meat consumption
- Choosing vegetable and plant oils
This diet is even recommended by the NHS as the ideal plan for those of you who are looking to experience the benefits of healthy eating.
Is Staying Hydrated Just as Important as Maintaining a Healthy Diet?
Drinking water and staying hydrated is just as important as the food you consume and plays an equally vital role within your daily diet. On average, it's recommended that you should drink 6-8 glasses of liquid every day, not including the fluid you get naturally from foods.
All non-alcoholic drinks count towards this end goal, but ideally, you should focus on the ‘healthier' options, such as water, lower-fat milk, and low-sugar drinks. Whatsmore, try to avoid sugary soft, and fizzy alternatives, they are nothing but empty calories.
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Before You Go!
As you can see, the benefits of healthy eating are plentiful, this article only scratches the surface of the potential positives a balanced diet can offer. In essence, these benefits can also be specific to the individual, with everyone’s body responding differently to these healthy life changes.
We encourage all of our readers to make these dietary changes if they are looking to achieve any of the aforementioned benefits of eating healthy. However, we must stress that eating healthy does not entail starving yourself or depriving your body of certain foods.
Be sure to eat an entirely balanced diet and don’t be afraid to eat treats and snacks in moderation.
Before you go, we’d like to remind you that personal training courses are the perfect method of learning for anyone who is looking to break into the fitness industry. To make the course that much more appealing we can personally guarantee an interview with a local gym upon graduation.
You can download our FREE in-depth prospectus, to learn more about all of the courses we offer.
- Lijuan Zhang Et Al. (2018) A nonrestrictive, weight loss diet focused on fiber and lean protein increase. ScienceDirect
- Kathryn E Bradbury Et Al. (2014) Fruit, vegetable, and fiber intake in relation to cancer risk: findings from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC), PubMed
- Chioma J Ikonte Et Al. (2019) Micronutrient Inadequacy in Short Sleep: Analysis of the NHANES 2005-2016. PubMed
- Kara L.Breymeye Et Al. (2016) Subjective mood and energy levels of healthy weight and overweight/obese healthy adults on high-and low-glycemic load experimental diets. ScienceDirect
- Majid Fotuhi (2009) Fish consumption, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids and risk of cognitive decline or Alzheimer disease: a complex association, Nature Reviews Neurology