A healthy eating strategy is a great way to make sure you’re getting the balanced nutrition you need from a variety of delicious foods and dishes, while controlling your weight at the same time. That said, it is not the same thing as being on a diet. So many of my clients don’t know the difference between the two when we first start working together. That’s okay, but even though I’m mainly focused on workouts, I always recommend that people also focus on their good nutrition. That powerful combination gets the best results.
What is a Healthy Eating Strategy?
In general, a healthy eating strategy involves eating foods containing the nutrients you need for your body and mind to function at optimal levels. This includes everything from vitamins and minerals to enzymes, antioxidants, fiber, and even flavor. It also has to do with quantity, calories, macronutrients – that is, dietary fat, protein, and carbohydrate – and their ratios.
There is no single healthy eating strategy that is appropriate for everyone. While there are certain helpful guidelines, such as the USDA’s MyPlate, the specifics come down to your unique body and mind and their requirements.
What is a Diet?
The many meanings of the word diet – including what you eat in general and something you do for the purpose of losing weight – often confuse the issue. Before you make another choice on behalf of your own nutrition, make sure the concepts are clear in your mind.
A diet can mean virtually anything having to do with what you eat. It does not necessarily imply a healthy eating strategy. When discussing your diet in general, it simply refers to what you eat on average. Your food groups, the types of foods you eat the most and the calories you consume may all be implied within a definition of your diet.
A diet can also specifically refer to a plan or program you’re following for the purpose of reaching a goal. In North America, the goal of being on a diet is frequently weight loss. That said, there are hundreds if not thousands of diets that people follow to try to achieve certain outcomes. Many of them have absolutely nothing to do with a healthy eating strategy, as anyone who has followed a fad diet can attest.
How to Know if You’re Following a Healthy Eating Strategy
When you keep up a healthy eating strategy over time, and you choose the right foods for the nutrient balance your body needs, you’ll naturally bring yourself closer to various potential goals such as weight control, fitness (when combined with regular exercise) and even stress control and improved sleep (particularly when combined with healthy habits in those categories).
Even without a set diet, a healthy eating strategy can provide you with what you need to continue moving closer to where you want to be. As was mentioned earlier, this looks different for everyone. Still, some characteristics may include:
- Eating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables on a daily basis
- Consuming whole grains regularly
- Eating lean proteins regularly
- Having a reasonable amount of healthy fats every day
- Varying what you eat since each food has its own combination of nutrients
- Avoiding added sugar so it is kept to a minimum