Good Nutrition is Neither Complicated nor Restrictive
They key to good nutrition is to eat a variety of food and limit portion size. Avoid classifying foods as either “good for you” or “bad for you.” All food in moderation is health food and all food eaten in excess is junk food. Avoid diets that eliminate any food or food group.
Follow the Principles of Moderation, Variety and Balance
The principle of moderation emphasizes eating neither too little nor too much any food or nutrient. Eating too much of a food or nutrient can lead to excess calories, extra body fat, and harmful nutrient levels. Variety is defined as eating foods from each of the food groups, and as many foods within each food group as possible. For example, it is important to eat several types of protein, such as poultry, fish, and beans, rather than just beef. Finally, balance is achieved by following the rules of moderation and variety, as well as achieving a balance between caloric intake and expenditure.
Carbohydrates and grains are essential for building muscle tissue, strengthening bones, and having optimum energy. Consuming foods rich in fiber, such as whole grains, reduces the risk of coronary heart disease, assists with weight management, and helps prevent neural tube defects during prenatal development.
- Eat at least 3oz. of whole grain cereal, bread, crackers, rice or pasta everyday.
- 1 oz. equals 1 slice of bread, 1 cup of breakfast cereal, or ½ cup of cooked rice, cereal or pasta
Fruits and Vegetables
Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce your risk for stroke and other cardiovascular diseases, type II diabetes and certain cancers, such as mouth, stomach and colon-rectum cancer. Fruits and vegetables rich in fiber may reduce your risk of coronary heart disease, and eating fruits and vegetables rich in potassium can reduce the risk of developing kidney stones and help decrease bone loss. Since fruits and vegetables are low in calories, they are useful for lowering your daily caloric intake.
- Eat more dark green veggies, such as broccoli, spinach and romaine lettuce.
- Eat more orange veggies, including carrots and sweet potatoes.
- Eat a variety of fruit, including fresh, frozen and canned fruit.
- Eat a variety of different colored fruits and vegetable.
Milk and Dairy Products
Diets rich in milk and dairy products build and maintain bone mass, and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
- Choose low-fat or fat-free when consuming milk, yogurt and other dairy products.
- If you can’t consume milk products, choose lactose-free products or other calcium sources, such as fortified foods and beverages.
Meat and Beans
This food group includes meat, poultry, fish, dry beans and peas, eggs, nuts, and seeds. Proteins function as building blocks for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. They are also building blocks for enzymes, hormones, and vitamins. They help the body release energy, play a vital role in the function of the nervous system, aid in the formation of red blood cells, and help build tissues.
Some food choices in this group are high in saturated fat. These include fatty cuts of beef, pork, and lamb; regular (75% to 85% lean) ground beef; regular sausages, hot dogs, and bacon; some luncheon meats such as regular bologna and salami; and some poultry such as duck. To help keep blood cholesterol levels healthy, limit the amount of these foods you eat.
Many people do not make varied choices from this food group, selecting meat or poultry everyday as their main dishes. Varying choices and including fish, nuts, and seeds in meals can boost intake of monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Most fat in the diet should come from these types of fatty acids. Some fish (such as salmon, trout, and herring) are high in omega-3 fatty acids. There is some limited evidence that suggests eating fish rich in EPA and DHA may reduce the risk for mortality from cardiovascular disease.
Oils and Fats
Fat is important to help regulate body temperature, prevent dehydration and fatigue, regulate menstrual cycles, and to prevent fractures and thinning of the bones. Fat is also vital for healthy hair and nails.
- Consume the majority of your fat from fish, nuts and vegetable oils.
- Limit solid fats like butter, margarine, and shortening, as well as foods that contain these.
- Keep your intake of saturated fats and trans fats low.