The foods we eat and the beverages that we consume play a big role in determining our overall health. Having good overall health is important for disease prevention. We must pay attention to everything we put into our mouth and know the effect it will have on our body and its systems. If we take in more calories than we expend in a day, the excess will be stored as fat. Over time if we continually overeat, we gain too much weight which can cause many more metabolic health concerns such as obesity, diabetes, and many more chronic diseases.
What we eat is determined by the things we have grown up eating at home, with friends, at school, and other social environments. Of course, we create our likes and dislikes over the years where most people narrow their choices. Exploring new foods is sometime a scary thing but can be fun if you make it a game to try new recipes or food items.
Eating heathier first takes some education to see what is healthier for you by looking at your current food intake and determining what might be considered unhealthy. First start by looking at the food labels to see if the foods that you consume are high in sugar such as high fructose corn syrup. Try not to add sugar to your food and avoid or minimize sugar sweetened beverages. We tend to get extra calories by drinking these types of beverages, so try to drink water with some lemon or lime.
Eating at home and making your own food using fresh vegetables, fruits, lean meats and whole grains can help you ensure to minimize added substances from processed foods. Belize has a long history of tasty cultural food items and recipes which are healthy. You must be mindful to also limit the portions that you consume where eating too many servings could also add weight to the body.
Making a food or meal plan is critical to eating healthier. Begin by sketching out your menu for each day of the week with those who live in your home. Take stock and see what food items you have at home and then make your grocery/market shopping list. Being planful can help you reduce your food expense as well as making a larger quantity and storing for meals on another day.
Build in flexibility where you can change days if you have to adjust your schedule or satisfy your own taste buds that day. Also build in any eating out and think about how you will make the healthy choice when eating out. It could be that you share an entrée or bring part of it home so you will eat less.
You can start today to eat healthier by being purposeful in your thought, feelings, and actions. Work with your family and engage them into the decision-making process. Learn more about eating healthier by cutting out certain food items and adding in other food items. Be creative and open to trying new food items and recipes. For more information, check out this great brochure from the Ministry of Health Belize on Food-based Dietary Guidelines for Belize.