Navigating the many health recommendations and diet suggestions we see on a daily basis can be challenging. If you are having trouble deciding which foods, how much, and when to eat them, here are a few tips for finding your own healthy eating style.
Three Meals vs. Six Meals
Recommendations seem to vary from day to day and from expert to expert, which is sure to leave you frustrated. Some say eating six small meals per day will boost metabolism, control blood sugar and hunger, and promote weight loss. Others argue that consuming only three meals per day and eliminating snacks will help control blood sugar spikes and drops that cause hunger and encourage the body to burn fat stores. The truth is that there is no strong scientific research to support either eating style, and many studies return neutral results when it comes to analyzing the magic number of meals to eat per day.
Most nutritionists agree that what you eat and how much you eat are more important. Eat only when you are truly hungry and choose nutrient-rich foods. Everyone is different so experiment with meal size and frequency until you find a combination that best fits your lifestyle, helps you maintain a healthy weight, and provides the energy you need to feel your best.
Value Your Choices
Consistently making beneficial food choices requires that you value nutrition and your health. We all have different values when it comes to eating. It comes down to choosing healthy foods that fit within your core set of values, including financial and cultural factors. When you create a long list of rules for what you can and cannot eat, you create an unhealthy relationship with food, which makes weight management more difficult. Decide what is important to you and make healthy choices that meet your needs. There are many forms of a healthy diet.
Food intolerances can play a significant role in dietary intake, but they can be difficult to identify and understand. Some of the most common food intolerances include lactose (the sugar found in dairy), sulfites (found in alcoholic beverages and an additive in processed foods), and gluten (a protein in wheat, rye, and barley).
First, talk with your doctor if you suspect you have a food intolerance. After following the advice of a health professional, if you still experience problems, experiment with reducing or eliminating suspected trigger foods from your diet. Just be sure to replace any nutrients you may lose with other foods that contain them. For example, if dairy is a major source of calcium for you, be sure to replace it with other calcium-rich foods.