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Feeding and Diet

How to Eat Right for Life

A healthy diet is not a single accomplishment, it is a choice of lifestyle. It is impossible to plan every meal for the rest of your life, so learn the guidelines that define a healthy diet for you. Choose the right foods, seek out healthy habits and learn how strict you need to be in order to keep eating well for a long and healthy life.

Calories

Your body is designed to cope with variability in your caloric intake, but it cannot deal with a persistent excess of energy and nutrients. The best way to control calories in your diet is portion control. Choose three to four healthy foods per meal in defined portion sizes. Avoid eating until you feel full. A good estimate for a serving size is the size of your palm or a deck of cards.

Food Choice

It is easy to know that steamed broccoli is healthier than a bacon cheeseburger. Many foods, however, exist in a grey area. Build your diet around known healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean meats, low-fat dairy, eggs, whole grains and unprocessed foods. If these foods make up a majority of your diet, you can be less concerned with deciphering the nutritional value of every food you may come across. Try to limit starchy foods, e.g., potatoes and rice, to the time surrounding physical activity.

Food Variety

Foods contain different levels and varieties of vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids and other important nutrients. A healthy diet incorporates a variety of different healthy foods. Learn to enjoy trying new recipes and learning to cook new foods. If you have problems getting enough vegetables, take a cooking class and learn to cook them to your taste, rather than avoiding them. Incorporate vegetables of many different colors–white, yellow, green, orange, purple–into your diet to maximize the cross section of nutrients you eat.

Habits

Eating right involves lessening unhealthy habits while seeking out healthy habits. Keep water or unsweetened tea around to drink, rather than drinking sugary drinks including sodas and fruit juice. Avoid buying unhealthy snacks; If they're around the house, you'll eat them. Set aside time for grocery shopping when you can be disciplined in your food choices. Also, prepare healthy food ahead of time to be reheated when you're unable to cook a healthy meal.

Compliance

No one will eat a completely healthy diet 100 percent of the time. Set an explicit compliance level, such as 80 percent, and stick to it. This means that four out of five meals will consist only of healthy foods in portions matched to your body mass and activity level. This means that if you are eating three meals per day, only four meals per week can deviate from your healthy eating plan. However, this does not mean that your non-compliant meals can involve eating an entire pizza and several pints of ice cream. Keep your deviations within the boundaries you have set for your lifestyle.