Weight loss happens just as much in the kitchen as in the gym. Changing how many calories you take in can be both easier and more effective than burning off the same amount. Weight isn’t the only part of your body affected by what you’re putting in your mouth. Numerous organ systems in your body are affected heavily by what you do or don’t choose to eat.
If you are looking to slim down or just to eat more healthfully, you don’t necessarily need to worry about planning a whole new menu. Even relatively minor adjustments to your diet can have a significant impact on your health. Here are some of the ways that you can get healthier without restocking your entire pantry:
Researchers have begun looking at foods according to a new tool named the Health Nutritional Index to rank foods by how many healthy minutes of life are lost or gained from eating any particular food. This scale incorporates both the impact the food has on the human body and the environmental impact needed to produce that food. A food can be ranked as green (beneficial), yellow (neutral), or red (inadvisable). By using “green” foods, people can increase the number of healthy life minutes they gain from any given food and decrease the impact they have on the environment.
Some of the foods that have earned themselves the “green” status are things like nuts and legumes. These choices are nutritionally sound – high in protein with low carbohydrate values – and also have a relatively low environmental impact as compared to other sources of protein. Processed meat is considered a “red” food on this scale – it is neither particularly wholesome compared to the alternatives, nor is it environmentally friendly to produce.
Everything in Moderation
This new scale does not recommend entirely remodeling your meal choices. Rather, researchers recommend changing as little as ten percent of your recommended daily nutritional values from “red” to “green” foods to better both yourself and the world. The new system addresses a library of over 5,000 foods, meaning that you are almost certain to find a “green” substitute for anything you want to target for change.
Nutritional scientists have suggested several other ways to improve your overall health even without the use of the new scale for grading foods. Consider adding more greens to your plate or drinking water regularly (especially before mealtimes) to keep yourself from snacking or overeating. Buying local or organic products can be both cheaper and healthier, as they are treated with fewer pesticides or preservatives for travel. Of particular note is the recommendation to replace sweet drinks or candies with natural alternatives such as fruits, which constitutes a positive change in every possible way.
Buying local products as well as making healthy substitutions are both proven methods of getting healthier and more environmentally friendly foods. This new scale will allow individuals to make a small change each meal that will add up to a big difference for their own future and the health of the world.