Everyone wants to eat healthy. But what does “healthy” really mean?
Is it nothing but fruits and veggies for every meal? What about fast food restaurants that have healthy options; do those count?
Understanding a healthy, nutritious diet can be overwhelming if you don’t know what you’re looking for. That’s why this week we’re helping you get down to basics.
A nutritious diet has five characteristics:
1. Adequacy – provides all the essential nutrients, fiber and energy in amounts that are sufficient to maintain health and body weight
2. Balance – all nutrients are being consumed proportionality
3. Calorie control – the foods you eat provide the amount of energy you need to maintain your appropriate weight
4. Moderation – the foods you eat do not provide excess fat, sugar, salt and other unwanted constituents
5. Variety – the foods chosen differ from day to day
Any one of these principles alone cannot ensure a healthful diet.
Now that you’ve got the characteristics, what types of nutrients should you include in your diet? Are you trying to think back to grade school and remember what nutrients are? Don’t worry, we have you covered!
Nutrients are absolutely necessary for a body to function properly and can only be provided by the food you eat. Nutrients provide energy, maintain or repair body parts and support growth.
There are six essential nutrients -
Water – most important nutrient because your body uses water 24 hours a day, carrying nutrients to the cells in your body
Carbohydrates – primary energy source for the body – power every system in the body (brain, heart, muscles, organs)
Fat – primary purpose of fat is energy production
Protein – essential for building and repairing body cells
Vitamins – essential for regulating body functions such as preventing nutritional deficiencies, promoting good health and aiding in building body tissue
Minerals – play a significant role in helping your body properly function. Calcium is an example of a mineral – it is crucial in the formation and maintenance of bones.
Now that you know more about the characteristics and makeup of a nutritious diet, it’s time to start putting it into action. The next time you’re at the grocery store, look at the nutrition facts on the food you’re buying. How does it stack up when it comes to nutrients? Most fast food websites also include nutrition information, and now you have a better idea of what to look for.
It’s the little changes that can make the biggest difference, and understanding the basics of a nutritious diet is the first step to getting the results you want!