There’s a lot to be said about food when it comes to eating healthy. If you’re at all concerned about your diet, you’re probably counting your calories and keeping track of how much food you eat from each of the food groups. You may also be careful about when you eat as well. Through it all, you might even be wondering about how dieticians and health food proponents handle their meals. Maybe you’re suspicious about a diet that is less glamorous (and appetizing) than it’s cracked up to be. Maybe you’re genuinely curious how people who ‘do it right’ eat.
Every once in a while, a TV personality might give us a little insight about that. On today’s menu, Dr. Oz. You might know him from his TV program, his website, or elsewhere as a proponent of alternative medicine. Recently, Dr. Oz unveiled a startling bit of dining habits that might throw readers for a loop. Is the good doctor mad? Possibly. On the one hand, he did present his leftovers while sharing this information. Nonetheless, is it at all possible that there’s some food for thought to be found in those slopping seconds? Read on and judge for yourself.
One of the first things Dr. Oz made clear for others is the fact that he doesn’t eat dessert. Among those in his family, dessert is simply never on the menu. I imagine a lot of people will find that shocking. It makes sense from a health perspective; after all, the average dessert is recognizable as a treat, and therefore, nutritionally, it’s probably not all that great for you. Desserts are generally loaded with sugar and sometimes fat, and plenty of calories. Furthermore, if you’ve just had a big, filling dinner before that, you’re definitely throwing your caloric balance off.
It is possible to have a healthy dessert, however; so many people simply do it wrong. A healthy dessert is just a matter of what you decide to eat, and when. For example, fruit is an excellent option. Keep in mind that this is the case as long as little to no sweeteners are added, and that any that are added are natural, rather than artificial. So, if you have some baked cinnamon apple slices? Not a huge deal. Fried bananas or a banana sundae on the other hand? It’s not automatically healthy just because the banana’s thrown in there.
Dessert aside, Dr. Oz had other interesting insights regarding the evening meal. Ultimately, when it comes to dinner, and really, all of his meals, the main goal is to eat healthy. This is a very important goal. After all, a healthy, balanced diet is one of the most important factors in disease management and prevention; blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar are three of many factors affected by the things we eat, and imbalanced in these can lead to serious, life-threatening illness. Additionally, our bodies need a regular intake of various nutrients so that we grow and function properly.
Because his wife Lisa is a vegetarian, Dr. Oz sees a lot of green on his plate, certainly. In fact, in the Oz household, it’s not uncommon to have salads and vegetable soups. There’s a lot to be said for vegetable nutrition; a proper balance of fruits and vegetables can effective cover most of our nutrient needs. That said, there are some nutrients like the B Vitamins primarily in meat, are harder to obtain with a vegan or vegetarian diet. In these cases, supplements can help prevent deficiency. Overall vegan diets are much healthier than diets including significant processed foods.
Processed foods (and processed eating) are two other things the good doctor has ruled out. While others might snack carelessly on popcorn or potato chips, Dr. Oz prefers to avoid these salty snacks. There’s good reason for this; when you’re eating on autopilot, say while playing video games or watching TV, your body may not send out the appropriate signals to let you know that you’re sated. Likewise, the act of moving food to mouth becomes habitual, rather than a necessity for sustenance. Furthermore, many snack foods are loaded with salt or sugar, which makes careless autopilot consumption even worse.
Timing is Everything
There are other bad eating habits that Dr. Oz likes to avoid. All meals are had before 7, and in general, mealtime revolves around family gathering and discussion, rather than odd eating hours, snacking, and electronic stimulation. Given there are studies that point to detriments to eating late at night, and benefits to social interaction, such a dinner strategy seems like a safe bet for overall health. An aversion to electronics makes getting to bed easier due to a lack of stimulation. Avoiding heavy meals just before bedtime has a similar effect.
All in all, we can learn a good bit from Dr. Oz’s dietary habits. Eating healthy is important: lots of fruits and vegetables, less salt, fat, and sugar. Certainly, meals should not consist primarily of the latter. Vegan and vegetarian diets offer the best health, but make sure to get enough vitamin B12, calcium, iron, and zinc. Fortified cereal products and supplements can help. Additionally, when you eat is as important as what you eat. Try to avoid binge snacking, and snacking on unhealthy foods, and consider what foods you should and should not eat close to bedtime.