What Constitutes a Healthy Diet?

You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again: Eating right is a critical element of enjoying a healthy lifestyle. But what exactly does “eating right” mean? 

It’s true that there are some overarching guidelines for a healthy diet, but your exact nutritional needs are unique to you — and they change as you move through life. Striking a balance with your diet, weight, and health can be challenging, but you don’t have to do it alone.

Nutrition services at Vibrant Woman Health Center in Lafayette, Louisiana, can help take the guesswork out of healthy eating. Patricia Nevils, MD, and our team work with women of all ages, offering services from nutrition counseling to nutraceuticals and supplements to keep you feeling your best at every age.

The basics of healthy eating

A healthy diet provides your body with vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and energy. The foods and beverages that you regularly consume directly affect your health, and making healthy choices enhances your health and lowers your risk of disease.

There are five main food groups: fruits, vegetables, proteins, grains, and dairy. A balanced diet contains foods from all of these groups, but some choices are healthier than others. 

For example, low-fat dairy products are healthier than full-fat options. Whole-grain bread, pasta, and rice offer more healthy benefits than foods made from white or refined flours.

Eating a healthy diet doesn’t require strict calorie counting. Instead, strive to put fruits and vegetables on half of your plate at each meal. Allocate a quarter of your plate for grains and the remaining quarter for lean proteins, like chicken, turkey, and fish.

Avoid processed foods as much as possible, as these tend to contain added sugars, saturated fats, trans fats, and sodium. 

Don’t forget that the beverages you drink affect your diet, too. Choose water, low-fat milk, and unsweetened tea whenever possible, and avoid excess sugar or highly caffeinated drinks.

Your dietary needs change over time

Since food fuels your body, and your body goes through changes, it’s natural that your dietary needs fluctuate as well. Hormonal changes and other issues during menopause can trigger changes in women’s dietary needs.

Women entering menopause may benefit from decreased iron and increases in calcium and vitamin D. Weight gain is a common side effect of both perimenopause and menopause, but changing your diet can help you minimize excess weight gain. 

Your body’s ability to absorb nutrients from food changes with age too. You might find yourself eating less and getting fewer nutrients from your diet, which can negatively affect energy levels, body weight, and more.

Take a well-rounded approach to nutrition

It’s important to eat balanced, healthy meals with plenty of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains, but sometimes, you can’t get all the nutrients you need from food alone. Whether it’s due to natural aging, food allergies, lifestyle choices, or something else, it’s not uncommon to have nutritional gaps in your diet.

Nutritional gaps could mean you’re not enjoying your best possible health. With nutrition services at Vibrant Woman Health Center, Dr. Nevils and our team work with you to evaluate your diet. We identify any potential gaps and make recommendations for increasing the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients your body needs.

Getting all of the vitamins and nutrients you need from a varied diet is ideal, but for many people, it’s just not a reality. 

Our team may recommend nutraceuticals, which are targeted vitamins and minerals, to fill gaps in your diet. Your nutraceuticals plan is completely customizable, with the goal of boosting your health and helping you age well.

Is your diet doing everything it could to maximize your health? Find out with a nutrition consultation at Vibrant Woman Health Center in Lafayette, Louisiana. Call our office at 925-257-4884 or request an appointment online.

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