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Healthy Eating

The U.S. Department of Agriculture created the Food Guide Pyramid to better instruct Americans on what healthy eating includes. Unfortunately, considering the fact that obesity in the U.S. has reached an all time high, the pyramid did little to promote healthy eating in a way to easily apply it to different lifestyles. Over the years, the pyramid was changed as more information about diet and health were discovered. 

A 2005 opinion poll by the Harvard School of Public Health found that despite criticism that too much attention was being paid to obesity, most Americans do not believe scientific experts are overestimating the health risks of obesity, which include premature death and serious chronic illnesses. Healthy eating has significant health implications, affecting your physical and mental health and general feeling of well-being. 

In January 2005, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005, which must be revised every five years, included several new recommendations that better outlined how to incorporate healthy eating and the importance of it. The most recently updated guidelines emphasize the controlling weight- a particularly significant topic that was not adequately addressed in earlier versions. 

In addition, the 2005 guidelines distinguished between recommended dietary fats, which used to all be considered bad. Healthy eating means getting enough calories, including "good fats."?  With an emphasis on limiting trans fats and saturated fats as much as possible, the guidelines recommend getting between 20% and 35% of daily calories from fats, recognizing the potential health benefits of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. 

Getting enough fat is essential to healthy eating, but because of the bad rap fat has gotten in the last several years, experts are concerned that younger generations are not getting enough. Healthy eating with enough good fats, such as olive oil, corn and sesame oils and fats rich in omega-threes like salmon and nuts, keeps your body running, but is also essential to fight heart disease and inflammatory body chemicals that speed up aging and can lead to wrinkling. Getting enough fats will also keep your hair and skin looking healthy.

With so many fad diets and health related studies recommending the importance of certain foods, vitamins and minerals, interpreting the meaning and applying healthy eating to your life can be difficult. When it comes to healthy eating, nutritionists recommend filling your shopping basket with at least four different colors of fruits and vegetables and no more than four boxes of processed, packaged foods like crackers and cookies. 

Understanding how to read nutrition labels can also help with healthy eating pursuits. A couple tips when looking at the nutrition labels:

-Realize that serving size can be deceiving. Taking the time to compute the information per serving size with the amount you actually eat is often a shocking difference. 
-Learn to distinguish between what types of fat is included in the product. Starting in January 2006, trans fats must be listed on packages. 
-Sugars ending in "-ose"? often mean the food has a lot of added sugars, which increase caloric intake without nutritional benefit. 

Healthy Eating Flash:
Getting less than 1,200 calories a day can slow down your metabolism for years to come.