People tend to think of healthy eating as a strict diet of unsubstantial meals. They imagine eating meals consisting of boring salads and food with no taste. The reality of the matter is that healthy eating should be looked at as a way of consuming a well-balanced diet with a variety of colorful and delicious foods that will be beneficial to the body. The human body requires an assortment of nutrients that include, but are not limited to fiber, minerals, and vitamins. Eating the right types of food is not the only step to healthy eating. Portion control is an important step of the healthy eating process that people tend to often overlook. Although healthy eating is a significant way to promote a healthy lifestyle, combining it with exercise will provide the body with energy, assist in weight loss, and lower the risk of disease. After all, we are what we eat. Not many people understand what it means to have a well-balanced diet.
A popular belief is to eat vegetables and fruits and stay away from sugars and fatty foods. Although these are good examples of healthy eating, there is more to having a well-balanced diet. A well-balanced diet means to provide the body with the right kind of foods and liquids that will maintain the body in a healthy state for supporting normal growth and development. According to “Nutrition for Life” (2012), “As we age, our nutrient needs change with our bodies.” People require different nutrients throughout the different stages of their lives. For example, infants and toddlers need nutrients for normal growth and development. Teaching them at an early age impacts their health and weight later in life. It’s never too early to implement healthy eating habits. Well-balanced meals fuel children and give them energy for school and playtime. For women, nutrition plays an important role in fertility and pregnancy.
The “Pregnancy: Staying Healthy and Safe” (2010) website states that an expecting mother needs more nutrients than before her pregnancy. In order to stay healthy, the human body needs a combination of nutrients. Unfortunately, there is not one single food that can provide everything that the body needs in order to function. According to “Let the Pyramid Guide Your Food Choices” (n.d.), “oranges provide vitamin C and folate but no vitamin B12; cheese provides calcium and vitamin B12; but no vitamin C.” Varieties of diets exist and make it difficult for a person to choose one. It is up to an individual to pick the right diet for them. Some foods to consider in a well-balanced diet include protein, dairy, and grains. There should also be fruits and vegetables mixed in the diet. It is recommended to include each food group in a meal to get the necessary nutrients for good health. Fats and oils should also be a part of a healthy diet, but they can impact health in a negative manner.
Diets should limit saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol. Added sugars should also be limited because although they provide some calories, they contain little to no vitamins and minerals. One last food that should be limited in order to have a well-balanced diet is sodium, also known as salt. Awareness of what a person eats is important for healthy eating, but another factor to consider is the portion. Portion control can be difficult to manage. The key is to eat enough of every food group without eating too much of them. Recommended serving sizes can be found in the Food Guide Pyramid, which is an outline based on dietary guidelines created by the United States Department of Agriculture. Many restaurants are serving more food than a person needs. When eating out, a good strategy to use is to eat half of the meal and take the other half home for another time. Another good idea is to share meals with someone else.
To control portions at home a person should read the labels on packages. People can be tricked by what they believe to be a single serving, when in actuality there may be several servings per package. In a short report written for the BMC Research Notes, the authors state the following, “A randomized controlled study in Canada observed that a portion control plate led to significant weight loss… among obese patients with diabetes.” (“Portion control for the treatment of obesity in the primary care setting,” 2011, pp. 346-347). Diligent and responsible consumers must read the labels in order to know what nutrients are found in their food and to know the serving sizes per package. In addition to nutrients and portion control, dietary supplements also can be a part of a diet and healthy eating. Dietary supplements are vitamins, minerals, and other substances that can be used to supplement a person’s diet.
They should contain one or more dietary ingredients or their constituents. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates these supplements but not under the same regulations covering conventional foods and drug products. Manufacturers are responsible for properly labeling and marketing their supplements to the public and making sure that the product or ingredient is safe before it is sold. It is a common practice to take supplements to add nutrients to a person’s diet, but it should not be thought of to replace food and nutrients from its original source. Dickinson, A., Bonci, L., Boyon, N., & Franco, J. (2012) stated, “Most users of dietary supplements say their primary motivation is to improve overall health or wellness or to fill perceived nutrient gaps in their dietary intake” (p. 14). Consumers should be aware that taking too much of a supplement can build up and cause toxicities.
A general rule is if a supplement will be used, it should provide 100% or less of the Daily Value. Dietary supplements are good ways to fill in the gap if vitamins and minerals are missing in a diet. The combination of eating the right nutrients, controlling the sizes of a meal, and using dietary supplements will affect a person’s health and benefit them. Benefits of eating healthy can range from effectively losing weight to controlling stress. Having a well-balanced meal also helps fight off diseases. In fact, many diseases are caused because of a poor diet (“Top Benefits Of Eating Healthy: Ideas That Go Beyond The Ordinary”, 2011). Another benefit of eating healthy is that it increases energy levels. Eating whole foods energizes the body leading to more productivity. Setting goals like weight loss and seeing the results give a person a sense of accomplishment and motivation, thus releasing stress.
Healthy foods also promote cell growth and can eliminate toxins found in the body. Another benefit that people tend to overlook is that when a person is healthy, they can reduce their healthcare costs and save money. Healthy eating also promotes a healthy lifestyle when accompanied with exercise. Exercising is a terrific way to keep in shape. As healthy eating does, exercise can improve an individual’s mood, control his weight, and lower the risk of diseases. Exercising helps with weight loss by burning calories and excess fat. It will also boost an individual’s energy level and also promotes better sleep. Not eating healthy has its risks, which should not be overlooked because of the negative aspects and harm that can happen to a person. Poor diets can come from poverty, meaning that people do not have the means to a healthy diet. It can also come from eating disorders. There is a misconception that eating disorders happen among young girls and women, but in fact boys and men also suffer from the disorders. There are three common eating disorders.
They are called anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder. According to Weisenberger (2012), “Eating disorders —such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder —include extreme emotions, attitudes, and behaviors surrounding weight and food issues.” These eating disorders can be defined in the following manner: anorexia is when a person starves and losses excessive weight, bulimia is the act of binge-eating followed by purging and binge-eating is characterized by compulsively over-eating. Obesity is another problem that can come from an unhealthy diet and no exercise. It can increase the risk of chronic diseases. Some of these diseases are diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain types of cancer. According to Wang and Beydoun (2009), “Obesity has become a global epidemic, and is becoming a public health crisis in the United States.”
Adhering to a good diet that is reduced in sugars and other poor nutrients will reduce chronic diseases related to weight gain. People that engage in a daily exercise routine and that maintain a well-balanced diet will feel energized throughout the day, be at a healthy weight, and visit the doctor’s office less often. It is never too late to get into the habit of eating healthy. Choosing the right diet and giving the body the proper nutrients is essential for everyone’s well-being. It is an effective method to staying healthy throughout an individual’s lifetime. Knowing the benefits of eating healthy and the consequences of not doing so should be reason enough to start today. Are you doing your part to promote healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle?
Dickinson, A., Bonci, L., Boyon, N., & Franco, J. (2012). Dietitians use and recommend dietary supplements: report of a survey. Nutrition Journal 11. 14. Let the Pyramid Guide Your Food Choices.(n.d.). Retrieved from http://brashear.k12.mo.us/dept/super/Pyramid1.htm Nutrition for Life. (2012). Retrieved from
Portion control for the treatment of obesity in the primary care setting. (2011, January). BMC Research Notes, 4(1), 346-350. doi:10.1186/1756-0500-4-346 Pregnancy: Staying Healthy and Safe. (2010). Retrieved from
http://www.womenshealth.gov/pregnancy/you-are-pregnant/staying-healthy-safe.cfm#a Top Benefits of Eating Healthy: Ideas that go Beyond the Ordinary. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.eatinghealthyfoods.org/top-benefits-of-eating-healthy.html Wang, Y. Y., & Beydoun, M. A. (2009). Meat consumption is associated with obesity
and central obesity among US adults. International Journal of Obesity, 33(6),
Weisenberger, J. (2012). Eating Disorders: Problem also Affects Boys and Men. Retrieved from http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6442470406#.UJ_7goc72Ag