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Writer gives tips for healthier diet

By Jessica Martin
On September 8, 2011

It is so easy to misconstrue what it means to eat healthy.  I personally never realized just how terrible my eating habits were until I was forced to change them when I was diagnosed with diabetes.  It turns out that this life-threatening disease was the ‘kick in the pants' I needed to get my life on the right track.  Here are some ways you can eat healthy and prevent a disease that is currently plaguing over 8 percent of Americans.

One very important thing you want to avoid is simple carbohydrates.  These are things like white bread, white rice, pasta, cakes and other pastries, and candy.  However, if you're like me and absolutely love carbs, there are substitutions.  Whole grain bread, whole grain pasta and brown rice, just to name a few. Vegetables are also wonderful carb substitutions. Spaghetti squash makes a great substitute for – obviously – spaghetti. Another great substitution is cauliflower, because you can use it in a multitude of ways.  You can use cauliflower to make rice, mashed ‘potatoes,' and even pizza crusts and breadsticks.  While it may not taste completely the same, if you're really trying to be healthy it's a great substitution.

Another change you need to make is to eat as much natural food as possible.  Stay away from processed foods, meaning if you look at the nutritional values on the label and there are 40 chemical names that you've never heard of and don't even think you can pronounce, do you're best to avoid it. Fresh produce is a great example of natural foods. Broccoli, romaine lettuce – stay away from Iceberg, it has no nutritional value – spinach, and green beans. The greener the food, the better.

However, getting healthy is not just about eating healthier; it's about eating less.  Portions are something that people in the United States really have a problem controlling. However, redesigning the food pyramid has been able to give people a better look at how to really eat healthy.  As much as we all love carbohydrates, they're one of the things we need least. We need protein – such as meat – and especially vegetables.  Vegetables should take up the greatest portion of your plate.  And I know some of us are very against eating vegetables, but if you know how to fix them correctly, it really makes a difference.  Steamed vegetables are the best.

With diet must come another very important way to get healthy: exercise. And it doesn't take much.  Even if you just go for a walk in the evenings when you get home, or leave for class a bit early; take your bike, and ride around a bit before you go to class. Every bit of exercise counts. 

I know it's easy to tell people that it's time to start eating healthier, but it's so hard to abstain from eating the foods we've grown up loving.  But whenever you begin reaping the benefits – such as losing 15 pounds in three weeks, like I have – it really is easy to take control of your body and you just feel better.

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