How to Approach Diet and Weight Control
To fuel the body's basic energy needs, calories are of course paramount. Yet many people find it difficult to take in the right amount—as well as the right kind—of fuel.
No matter how many dietary guidelines are handed out, people still crave what is definitively bad for them. And in an era where sugary and fatty snacks are often within arm's reach, resisting those cravings has become exceedingly difficult.
There is also more to food than nutrition, because what a person eats also carries cultural, social, and economic weight. Holidays and gatherings, for example, highlight food as the main event, which can complicate the meaning of a meal.
Eating the right foods can help prevent many problems—cardiovascular problems, diabetes, obesity, and osteoporosis, to name a few. No doubt many people behave in unhealthy ways around food; they overeat, eat the wrong things, or think about eating too much. A healthy relationship with food means a healthy lifestyle overall.
What Are the Best Foods for the Brain?
A healthy brain is fed by a balanced diet and a variety of nutrients. But a few foods provide a special boost.
Fish are rich are in omega-3 fatty acids, which help build, sustain, and repair brain cells, so salmon, mackerel, tuna and others provide important nutrients to the brain. Antioxidants protect the brain from oxidative stress and reduce inflammation. Leafy greens including spinach, kale, and broccoli, as well as berries such as strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries all trigger or provide plenty of antioxidants.
Nuts, such as almonds, hazelnuts, and sunflower seeds are rich in both omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. Whole grains like brown rice and barley and legumes like peanuts contain vitamin E. Another vitamin implicated in brain health is vitamin B, which can be found in eggs and dairy products.
Through omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins, these foods play a role in maintaining memory and concentration as well as staving off cognitive decline, stroke, and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
The Mediterranean diet is one of the most proven options; research suggests that the diet protects cognitive abilities and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and overall mortality. It’s no surprise why: The diet prioritizes nearly all of the foods above, including vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish, and olive oil.
Why People Struggle to Control Their Weight
A good diet contributes to optimal health, but not everyone has a positive relationship with food. Some people battle with their plate, with body image challenges and obsessions joining the fight.
The act of eating is often rife with strong emotions like boredom, stress, and guilt. Looking for relief, people reach for an unhealthy treat, setting them down a path of unhealthy behaviors. Next, it’s snacking in the middle of the night, foregoing proper portion sizes, skipping meals, and other untoward habits.
This can become a cycle of on-and-off, short-term dieting that rarely, if ever, leads to permanent weight loss.