The idea of shifting our lifestyles to a more healthy way of eating is nothing short of overwhelming. Oh all the foods we’ll miss! Will I really have the time – or energy? – to exercise?
Healthy eating, however, is not replicating the eating habits of a rabbit; a healthy diet consists of more than just vegetables. Here’s why:
Whole grains are healthy too.
Whole grains contain the entire grain, such as the bran, germ, and endosperm. Beyond whole wheat, the grain family includes oats, brown rice, and barley.
They are essential to any diet due to their high fiber content, which keeps us full and regular- if you know what we mean. While vegetables contain fiber, whole grains have a higher density of the nutrient. And as most Americans consume less than the 25 grams of recommended fiber daily, be sure to include whole grains in your diet.
Go nuts over seeds, meat, and nuts- in moderation
Protein intake is a vegetarian’s biggest struggle. The nutrient is linked to reduced appetite and hunger levels, increased muscle mass, and bone strength just to name a few.
But meat isn’t the only source of protein. Seeds, legumes, and nuts are also full of protein and an excellent option for vegetarians or your Meatless Monday habit. Just be sure to limit your intake, as they are calorie-dense.
Eat the fat
Eat fat to lose fat? Kind of an oxymoron. According to Dr. Mark Hyman, it’s sugar- not fat- that makes us fat. Dietary fat is more complex than sugar, and when removed from foods it is often replaced with unnatural sugars that contribute to poor heart health.
Dietary fat, including omega-3s, are essential to brain health, healing the body, and keeping us lean. Be sure to avoid trans fats, but all others are safe to eat.
Don’t forget fruit!
When shifting to a healthy diet, we often skimp on fruit out of fear of the naturally occurring sugars. But fruit is essential to a healthy diet. The nutrients in fruit in particular have been shown to alleviate hypertension, strokes, and diabetes, improve muscle health, assist in weight management, and even contribute to longevity.
Still scared about the sugar? Because the fructose in fruit is accompanied by a myriad of nutrients such as fiber and antioxidants, the sugar is absorbed more slowly and doesn’t have the same impact on the body as its processed sugar cousin.
So while vegetables are the star of a healthy diet, they still need their back-up singers of whole grains, protein, fat, and fruit.
Meg is a dreamer, entrepreneur, and homesteader based in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. She loves her cats, feasting, and road trips in her green VW Bug.