When we talk about healthy eating, we usually start with an understanding of basic nutrition—the science of eating healthy. If you take the time to educate yourself about nutrients and how they work in your body, you will go a long way toward knowing what it takes to be healthy.
The important six
There are six general categories of nutrients that make up a healthy diet. The first three categories—Carbohydrates, Fats and Protein—provide energy.
In other words, they have calories! In fact Carbs and Protein provide 4 calories per gram, and Fats provide more than twice as much energy at 9 calories per gram.Click here for a printable copy of a method to determine your calorie needs.
With so many people focused on being thin, thanks to some very skinny role models, calorie has become a bad word. We do need energy (another word for calories) to survive, however, so a nutrition plan that includes eating these three types of energy nutrients, in moderate and appropriate amounts, is vital to good health. In addition, each of these nutrients has other necessary functions in the body.
The other categories—Vitamins, Minerals and Water—do not provide any calories. That means when you take your multi-vitamin and mineral tablet and wash it down with water, you have not added to your calorie total for the day. Instead of providing energy, these nutrients are required for most of the processes that are constantly going on in your body.
A long-term deficiency in any one of them would have an effect on how you feel and how healthy you are.
One more thing
There is one important dietary essential that is not usually listed as a separate nutrient, but in recent years, it has taken on a new importance. With the evolution of our food supply, to more processed food, the need for a sufficient amount of fiber in the diet has become of major importance. You need to know that a lack of fiber in the diet is associated with an increased risk of colon cancer and other illness.
Variety is the key
Any solid nutrition plan should include a variety of nutrient-dense foods in order to make sure your diet encompasses all of the above-listed categories. If you eat the same foods day after day, especially processed foods or empty calories, you could be missing out on essential nutrients. Keep in mind that any one nutrition category is not more necessary than another, since they all work together to keep you healthy. Fad diets that eliminate any one category of nutrients are also ill-advised if you wish to maintain good health over the long run.
If you are looking for a more specific nutrition plan, here are some guidelines that you can implement on a daily basis.
I hope you will take this nutrition plan and begin your journey toward a healthy eating lifestyle!