Nutrition Planning – Six Areas To Help Reduce Dietary Deficiencies
Nutrition planning is a key factor in getting the most out of nutrients from food. The foods that we eat have a major impact on our health for good or for bad. Our future health depends on the life style choices that we make today.
By eating foods with all of the essential nutrients we avoid nutritional deficiencies such as vitamin C deficiency leading to scurvy and vitamin B niacin deficiency leading to pellagra.
Then there are the chronic diseases which we can suffer from such as hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, and different types of cancers, all of these diseases are due to food and life style choices.
To reduce the risk of chronic diseases choosing healthy foods along with healthy lifestyle choices is very important.
There are some core concepts that we can consider for how to select healthy foods. Those concepts include adequacy of diet, a balanced diet, calorie control, nutrient density, moderation, and variety.
Having an adequate diet means selecting foods that provide all of the essential nutrients, fiber, and energy in amounts sufficient to support cell growth and maintain health.
A balanced diet is a healthy diet which contains a mixture of all the food groups such as grains, fruits, vegetables, oil, milk, meat and beans. In addition, a balanced diet contains all of the sources of energy and these are carbohydrates, proteins, fat, vitamins and minerals.
The diet is balanced if the amount of calories consumed equals the amount of energy that is expended through your daily activities and exercise. The diet is also balanced when your food choices provide your body with adequate nutrients.
Calorie control refers to identifying the amount of calories that are needed to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, then choosing a diet that balances the calories that are taken in with the amount of calories used by the body to sustain metabolic activity and physical activities.
Nutrient dense foods refer to those foods that provide a substantial amount of vitamins and minerals with relatively few calories. Foods for example with little or no added sugar or fact are high nutrient dense foods.
Moderation refers to not too much or too little of any food. Being moderate in our diet means not having to restrict or eliminate any food type, and by not having too much or too little of a food type, all food types can fit into a healthy diet.
Variety refers to including a lot of different foods in the diet, not just different food groups such as fruits, vegetables, and grains, but different foods from the group such as bananas, oranges, and grapes from fruits and peas, carrots, and broccoli from the vegetable group.
Eating a variety of foods from each group provides the opportunity to obtain different vitamins and minerals.
Variety also makes eating more enjoyable and prevents boredom with one’s eating habits. Having a varied diet makes it more likely that you will get all the nutrients you need and it will help insure that healthy eating habits are developed that can reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
By taking these core concepts into consideration it becomes easier to choose healthy foods for good nutrition and optimum health through nutrition planning.
For more information about nutrition planning click on the link to nutrition.gov
For other information on nutrition and nutrition planning some great references are:
• Nutrition – Fourth Edition by Paul Insel, Don Ross, Kimberley McMahon, and Melissa Bernstein
• Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 – www.dietaryguidelines.gov
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