Healthy Eating

Healthy Eating
Heather Nicholds, C.H.N.

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Healthy eating, rather than only cutting things out of your diet, is a focus on all the good things you can eat. It’s about being positive and excited about the healthy direction you’re taking, and about making sure that you are getting essential nutrients, without which your body will always crave nourishment.

I’ll get into the specifics of how to plan a balanced diet soon, but in general a healthy eating plan consists of a few principles. Let’s start there.

Whole Foods

When you eat, your body is looking for nutrients – vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, protein, fat, etc. Whole foods provide a unique balance of each of these nutrients, and every food has a different balance.

If you eat foods that are not whole, that have had some part of them like vitamins or fiber removed, your body will be missing the nutrients from that part of the food and will try to tell you to go get it. It is not enough to simply replace the parts, in the form of vitamin pills or fiber supplements. The only way to truly give your body what it wants is to eat the whole food.

Examples of whole foods are brown rice, whole grain flour, sunflower seeds, or an apple. Examples of foods that are not whole are white rice, white flour, refined sunflower oil, or apple juice. As much as possible, eat foods that are in their whole form. This makes sure that they are in the freshest possible state, and have all the nutrients intact.


Balance refers to the ratio of foods in your diet. A good balance is to eat more vegetables than any other food group. An imbalanced diet would be one that includes more pasta than vegetables. Balance is a major concern when people consider a vegetarian or vegan diet because they have been taught that animal products are an important food group. However, if you look at that food group as protein rather than meat, there are lots of excellent vegetarian and vegan foods that can balance your diet.

Balance also involves your own personal balance. Some people do better with a lot of raw foods, while others do better with more cooked foods. Even if you learn about something that is nutritionally good in theory, it may not be right for you. Be careful of diet plans that stick rigidly to an idea of what perfect nutrition should be.

The foods you eat at different times of the day will affect your energy levels. Pay attention, and you can learn what types are best for you and when you should eat your meals. My hunger peaks in the early afternoon, so I have a substantial lunch and afternoon snack. Eating too late will affect your sleep and should be avoided.

Changes Over Time

The seasons and climate will affect your energy levels as well, and the foods you eat can help you to stay at a comfortable temperature – to not get too hot or cold. For most people, since raw foods are cooling, their proportion should go down in colder weather.

As you age, your body’s nutritional needs and digestive process changes. When you are a baby, your digestion is sensitive to any irritants. As you grow up, your system either gets stronger or damaged, both of which will reduce sensitivity.

As you become elderly, your digestion will lose some strength and you don’t need as many calories. You still need the same amount of nutrients, so you need to shift to more nutrient- dense foods – like vegetables and fruit. Since your digestive system isn’t quite as strong, it may be helpful to cook most of your vegetables.


An important aspect of a balanced diet is eating a variety of foods. Since each food has a different balance of nutrients, it is important to get as many different kinds as you can. For example, you can use all kinds of different grains: brown rice, quinoa, millet, amaranth, barley, whole wheat, rye, kamut, spelt, etc. Variety doesn’t have to happen all in the same meal or day. Try to grab different fruits and vegetables as they come in season, and vary your grocery list each week.

Mostly Vegetarian

Plants should make up the vast majority of your diet. You don’t need to cut animal foods out of your diet entirely, but keeping them to a minimal portion is best. Eating only plant foods one day a week has a positive effect, so think what effect 5 days of vegetarianism a week can have.


Although a healthy diet is very important to your current and future health, it shouldn’t cause excessive stress. Change will often involve some minor stress, but don’t let your diet create a situation where you are constantly obsessing over food. Stress itself is unhealthy, and can neutralize health gains you make through diet. In fact, being happy and stress-free is arguably as important as eating well for some people.


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