Why Should I Try to Have a Healthy Diet?

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Having a healthy diet is one of the most important things you can do to help your overall health. Along with physical activity, your diet is the key factor that affects your weight. Having a healthy weight for your height is important. Being overweight or obese increases your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, breathing problems, arthritis, gallbladder disease, sleep apnea (breathing problems while sleeping), osteoarthritis, and some cancers. You can find out if you're overweight or obese by figuring out your body mass index (BMI). Women with a BMI of 25 to 29.9 are considered overweight, whereas women with a BMI of 30 or more are considered obese. All adults (aged 18 years or older) who have a BMI of 25 or more are considered at risk for premature death and disability from being overweight or obese. These health risks increase as the BMI rises. Your health care provider can help you figure out your body mass, or you can go to www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/bmi/calc-bmi.htm

Having a healthy diet is sometimes easier said than done. It is tempting to eat less healthy foods because they might be easier to get or prepare, or they satisfy a craving. Between family and work or school, you are probably balancing a hundred things at once. Taking time to buy the ingredients for and cooking a healthy meal sometimes falls last on your list. But you should know that it isn't hard to make simple changes to improve your diet. And you can make sense of the mounds of nutrition information out there. A little learning and planning can help you find a diet to fit your lifestyle, and maybe you can have some fun in the process.

How can I start planning a healthy diet for me and my family?

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You can start planning a healthy diet by looking at the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines) by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). These guidelines contain the Food Guide Pyramid, which shows how different food groups can come together to form your total diet. Eating is one of life's greatest pleasures. Because there are many foods and many ways to build a healthy diet, there is lots of room for smart, healthy choices. But you can use the pyramid as a starting point. Choose the recommended number of daily servings from each of the five major food groups.

You might have seen some of the other food pyramids by other groups of health care providers, or pyramids for different ethnic groups, like the Puerto Rican, "Soul Food," Vegetarian style, or Latin American style pyramids. You could use any one of them for healthy eating, depending on the foods available to you and your culture's traditions. No matter which diet you choose, be sure to talk with your health care provider first, before starting any type of eating plan. You might want to ask your provider for a referral to a registered dietician (RD) who can help you or go to www.eatright.org for a listing of providers. You might also want to enlist the help of a family member or friend to give you support and help you stay on track. Try to have some fun learning new recipes and different ways to cook.

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The source of this article is http://www.4woman.gov

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