Among the benefits of balancing your diet is more fulfilling sleep. That’s why our experts here at Sleep Cycle Center in Austin and Lakeway, Texas, routinely recommend dietary changes alongside other treatments and strategies for managing sleep conditions like sleep apnea and snoring. Chad Denman, DDS, Vidya Pai, MD, and Michael Lund, DDS, also provide weight loss services that significantly rely on dietary changes.
Our experts are prepared to evaluate your current diet and use it as a starting point to develop one ideal for your health. They teach you the basics of your nutritional needs and how to navigate the grocery store with nutrition in mind.
Focusing on whole foods
Developing a well-balanced diet doesn’t have to be complex, and you don’t need a degree in nutrition to understand what’s good for you. That isn’t to say you can’t still have some of your favorite junk food in moderation, but you should center on whole and unprocessed foods.
Processed foods have gone through cleaning, canning, dehydration, freezing, or packaging. While it may not be feasible to exclude processed foods from your diet completely, you should eat as many whole foods as possible.
Whole foods are unprocessed, and you get them from the store or farmer’s market in their natural state. These include:
- Whole grains
Otherwise, try to choose foods with minimal processing. That includes foods that were packaged during their peak so all of their nutritional value remains.
Looking at labels
Speaking of nutritional value, foods include one or more macronutrients (fat, protein, or carbohydrates), as well as a variety of micronutrients. Micronutrients are in all the foods you eat, even the so-called unhealthy options.
While some labels on foods at the store tell you they’re “organic” or “natural,” you shouldn’t take words like these at face value. Instead, turn the box or bottle around so you can see the nutrition facts. Our experts at Sleep Cycle Center can teach you how to interpret these labels. As a rule of thumb when it comes to labels, we recommend that the fewer the ingredients the better. We suggest not buying anything with more than 8 to 10 ingredients.
It’s always a safe bet to avoid foods with too much added sugar, cholesterol, saturated fats, trans fats, and sodium (salt). You can find these listed on the nutrition facts chart. If you’re looking to include more beneficial micronutrients in your diet like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, choosing whole foods is best because they retain their nutritional content.
You might also briefly calculate the caloric density of a food you intend to include in your diet. That indicates how many calories are in a certain amount of the food. Some small foods are deceptively calorically dense because they’re packed with fat or protein and may cause you to surpass an appropriate portion size before you realize it.
Need more advice?
Our experts at Sleep Cycle Center are happy to discuss the best practices for meeting your nutritional needs. Schedule a consultation with us over the phone or online at either location for more dietary help today.