Once you have taken the decision to start eating healthy, there are a number of principles that you need to pay attention to, because nourishing your body depends on your selection of many different foods at numerous meals over not only days, but over months and years.
Principle #1: Adequacy
This means consuming sufficient amount of energy and all essential nutrients to meet the needs of a healthy body.
Take Calcium for example, if you don’t take your needs of Calcium especially during the growing years, you lose the bones’ ability to reach their optimal density, by that you risk bone loss and fractures in later years.
Principle#2: Controlling calories
In case of maintaining your weight, the amount of energy you consume should balance with the amount of energy your body uses in metabolic and physical activities.
Means consuming enough but not too much of each type of food from all food groups.
Because eating too much of one nutrient could negatively impact the absorption or utilization of another, which –on the short or long run- might create health problems.
Variety is important for many reasons:
- One is to insure continuously enjoyable meals, because even the most delicious and healthiest foods will become boring if eaten repeatedly.
- Tow, because even foods that are on the same food group contain different amounts of each nutrient, so variety improves adequacy.
- Three, not all foods are entirely free of some substances that if taken in excess could be harmful, so by applying variety you avoid those substances.
Principle#5: Nutrient Density
To eat without over eating, choose a nutrient-dense food that is: food that deliver the most nutrient for the least energy.
For example: a cup of soft drink could deliver the same calories –if not more- as a cup of fresh orange juice; only fresh orange juice has vitamins and antioxidants that don’t exist in soft drinks.
Although food rich in fat and sugar are enjoyable and tempting, they promote weight gain when eaten in excess, eat such food but in moderation, and make more low fat and low sugar choices your habit.
Principle#7: Be Realistic
Being reasonable and realistic in choosing foods and meals timing is very important principle in planning long-term practical diet, every one of us has his own life schedule and commitments, but that doesn't mean it’s impossible to implement the previous principles in your daily life.
For example; plan having fresh juice, rich salad or meal that needs your ability to prepare them when you are at home, on the other hand choose easy to pack, non-easily spoiled foods for work hours meals and so on.
A well planned diet covers all these principles in harmony with each other. Now go to Understanding Food Groups to put these principles into action.
- E. Whitney, S. Rofles; understanding nutrition; 12th edition.