In an age where diet culture is around every twist and turn, it can be difficult to determine which eating habits are healthy and which are overrated. And then, just when you think you have it all figured out, the trends change and you’re left scrambling to switch your approach to food. When it comes to nutrition, there isn’t always a one-size fits all approach, especially for people with dietary restrictions. That said there are some long-standing best practices that are highly regarded by national health institutions — this can be a good foundation for building an eating plan that works for you.
Eat the Right Amount
The best starting point for crafting a healthy diet is understanding how many calories you should eat each day. Even if you don’t count every calorie you consume, having a general understanding of what your body needs to function is important. Of course, this number can be adjusted up or down to accommodate any fitness goals you have for yourself, including gaining or losing weight.
The ideal daily calorie intake is — on average — 2,000 for women and 2,500 for men. These figures are very flexible, however, and taking into account a number of other factors can help improve accuracy. Namely, including age and average daily activity level will result in a more personalized recommendation, as outlined by the Food and Drug Administration.
Get Vitamins & Nutrients
Once you have a basic understanding of the calorie count you’re aiming for, you can start to identify which foods will be a part of your daily intake. Including a wide variety of different food types will help ensure a more vitamin- and nutrient-dense diet. This is important because vitamins and nutrients are a key component contributing to normal body functions.
Some that are more well-known include: vitamins A, C, D, E, K, and the B vitamins as well as calcium, magnesium, and potassium. This is just a sampling of what you should have in your system, and eating isn’t the only way to get these key vitamins and minerals — you can always turn to supplements. Different amounts for each are recommended by age, as outlined by the CDC and NIH.
Enjoy What You Love
Even though fitting in vitamins, nutrients, proteins, and carbohydrates are important — so is eating things that you love. And it’s important to remember that no food is “bad” by default, you can always sprinkle in some less nutritional food into your diet, especially when it brings you joy. Having treats can be even more enjoyable when you’re taking part in a celebration with people you love.
“All foods can fit in moderation. It is a balancing act. It is important to incorporate foods that you typically enjoy while also adjusting your dietary habits to live a healthier lifestyle,” emphasizes Jocelyn Loran, Clinical Dietitian Specialist and Diabetes Educator at the Center for Diabetes Education. If you need professional support figuring out a personalized approach to you, you can schedule a private appointment with one of our nutritionists 301-609-6397.