Often you may hear a doctor say, “You need to eat a healthy diet and exercise .”, but what do they mean by a healthy diet? How do diet and exercise affect our health? There is so much information out there that one could get lost trying to find the answers. From an early age, we are taught to “eat your vegetables”, ‘limit sugar or it will rot your teeth”, “‘avoid alcohol because it’s bad for you”, and so much more. We’re told by doctors and the government that if we eat a balanced diet and exercise daily we will live longer, healthier lives but they often fail to give us the necessary information and the support to do as they tell us. What they do give us for information is often inconsistent and contradictory.
A healthy diet consists of eating a recommended amount of foods from each of the 5 suggested food groups based on your age, gender, height, weight, and activity level to determine how many calories your body needs to function. There are many apps and websites that can help you figure how your specific calorie needs. For example, I used the MyPlatePlan app on MyPlate.gov to calculate I need 1800 calories a day to function. However, since I am overweight for my height, I would need to either cut that some or increase my activity level to lose the extra weight. To do this I will have to eat less fat-laden, fried, and prepackaged foods and incorporate more fresh fruits, vegetables, and cut down on the high-fat meats and dairy. I will also have to increase my activity level, within my physical capabilities, to burn more calories per day. To do this, I have to know which exercises are safe for my physical condition by talking with a doctor and physical trainer.
A healthy diet will consist of 5 servings of vegetables, 4 servings of fruit, 3-6 servings of whole grains, 3 servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy, 1-2 servings of protein, and only 3 tablespoons of fats per day. Here is a helpful reminder link: file:///C:/Users/User/Downloads/How%20much%20should%20i%20eat%20Infographic%20PDF.pdf.
As for exercising more the most common and safest workout is walking. However, to burn more calories there are a wide range of workouts to consider. The first step is to talk to a doctor and get a full checkup. Then take stock of any physical conditions that may make certain workouts difficult and choose what workouts would be best for you. Then just start moving and keep checking in with the doctor as often as you need to to keep track of changes that occur.
As you change your eating to include healthier foods and exercise more, you will look and feel better. You may lose weight, gain muscle, tone up current muscle, get clearer skin and you will definitely see improvement in any health conditions you may have.