What makes “healthy diets” actually good for your health? Is it the results you get when you follow it? Sadly, crash diets and unhealthy diets often yield more short-term weight loss than healthy diets, so that’s a no-go? Is it a diet you can easily get into and stop? How about diets that limit your intake of unhealthy food? The truth is that there are many healthy diets, and the best all have a few factors in common.
Factor #1: Quality over Quantity
This is one of the crucial factors in a healthy diet! Instead of worrying about how much you eat, a good diet will place greater emphasis on what you’re putting in your body. Many of the best diets don’t even bother counting calories; instead, they help you to make smarter food choices, emphasizing the filling, high-fiber foods and keeping your portions moderate. A diet composed entirely of high-quality foods—meaning foods rich in dietary fiber, balanced macros, and plenty of micronutrients—will typically be more than enough to help you get your weight and existing health problems under control. The higher the quality of the food you eat, the better!
Factor #2: Vegetables
Any diet that doesn’t include a lot of vegetables is one you should be highly skeptical of. Vegetables are one of the most important foods you can eat, as they contain a lot of dietary fiber, very little sugar and calories, and a hefty dose of important antioxidants and micronutrients. They’re the healthiest food on your plate and are the least likely to have a negative impact on your weight. Every healthy diet will encourage you to eat a lot of veggies—in fact, they’ll often craft the diet around the various veggies you’re including. They’re also incredibly filling, so you’ll find that eating more veggies makes you less likely to eat a lot of the other unnecessary and lower-calorie foods.
Factor #3: Eliminating Unhealthy Foods
A lot of people have a misconception that their favorite foods are going to be deemed “unhealthy”, so their diet immediately becomes an elimination diet that leaves them craving the foods they can no longer have. There is some truth to this—many of the most popular foods and drinks are high in sugar and low in nutrients—but for the most part, healthy diets are just going to cut out anything that’s highly processed, rich in carbs but low in fiber, made with excessive amounts of sodium, or have high traces of chemicals and additives. Basically, the focus of all healthy diets is on eating food that is as natural as possible, eliminating anything processed, pre-packaged, or refined. If you can accept that this is the best thing you can do for your health, you’ll find plenty of ways to enjoy your favorite foods while still making the healthy choice.
Factor #4: Focus on Balance
A healthy diet is one that provides all the various nutrients you need, both macro and micro. Your body can operate on more fat to compensate for lower carb intake, but the healthiest diets are those that find a good balance between the two. Vegetarian and vegan diets focus a lot on the plants, but often end up consuming less protein without animal fats. Diets that don’t include whole grains often end up with less intake of vital minerals, while low-fruit diets miss out on important antioxidants. The best healthy diets focus on balance, on making sure you get all the nutrients your body needs from the many foods available to you.