How to Eat Healthy?
- Choose good carbohydrates: whole grains (the less processed the better), vegetables, fruits and beans. Avoid white bread, white rice and the like as well as pastries, sugared sodas and other highly processed food.
- Pay attention to the protein package: good choices include fish, poultry, nuts and beans. Try to avoid red meat.
- Choose foods containing healthy fats. Plant oils, nuts and fish are the best choices. Limit consumption of saturated fats and avoid foods with trans fat.
- Choose a fiber-filled diet which includes whole grains, vegetables and fruits.
- Eat more vegetables and fruits – the more colorful and varied the better.
- Calcium is important but milk is not its best or only source. Good sources of calcium are collards, bok choy, fortified soy milk, baked beans and supplements which contain calcium and vitamin D.
- Water is the best source of liquid. Avoid sugary drinks and limit intake of juices and milk. Coffee, tea, artificially-sweetened drinks, 100% fruit juices, low-fat milk and alcohol can fit into a healthy diet but are best consumed in moderation. Sport drinks are recommended only for people who exercise more than an hour at a stretch to replace substances lost in sweat.
- Limit salt intake. Choose more fresh foods instead of processed ones.
- Moderate alcohol drinking has health benefits but is not recommended for everyone.
- Daily multivitamin and extra vitamin D intake has potential health benefits.
- Frequent physical exercise is recommended.
-Harvard School of Public Health
Daily Food Intakes
Daily Intakes, or DI-s, are a set of reference values for acceptable intakes of energy and a variety of nutrients, including protein, fat, saturated fat, carbohydrates, sugars, fiber and sodium.
DI values found on products are based on an average adult’s daily requirement of 8700 kJ (2088 calories). Your DI-s may be higher or lower depending on your energy needs. The DI values should be used as a guide to help you make informed choices about the foods you eat.
Energy in Your Food
Kilojoules (food energy) are important for providing energy for your daily activities and body function. Our bodies use energy for everything we do – growth, development, cell repair, and for movement activities like walking, running, swimming, working and even sleeping.
Aim to balance the energy you consume through foods with the energy you expend during the day. The more active you are the more kilojoules of food energy you need. If you are less active, your body needs fewer kilojoules of food energy to get you through the day.
1 kilojoule = 0.24 kilocalories/calories
1 kilocalorie = 4.18 kilojoules
kJ = kilojoules
kcal = kilocalorie (or calorie)
The reference value for an average adult is 8,700 kJ – 2088 calories.
The nutrients found in all foods and drinks provide nourishment for the body. This nourishment is in the form of:
- Substances which provide energy
- Building blocks for bone, muscle, organs, hormones and blood
- Substances needed for processes to occur in the body (like digestion)
- Substances that protect the body
Nutrients are drawn from a wide variety of foods and the more varied your diet, the more likely you are to obtain all the nutrients you need.
Fat contributes to energy intake and helps you absorb vital vitamins; therefore a healthy diet should always contain a certain amount of fat. The two main forms of fat are saturated, predominately from animal sources, and unsaturated, predominately from vegetable sources.
Because fat is a rich source of energy, you should try and eat no more than your recommended intake. It is also important to choose unsaturated fats as much as possible, such as those found in oily fish, nuts and seeds, avocado, and spreads made from sunflower, rapeseed and olive oil. Too much saturated fat can raise blood cholesterol, which can increase the risk of heart disease (The reference value for saturated fat for an average adult is 24 grams.) The reference value for fat for an average adult is 70 grams.
Sugars are carbohydrates that provide the body with energy, our body’s fuel. Sugars occur naturally in fruit, vegetables and dairy foods and are added to foods for flavor, texture and color. You should aim to consume no more than your recommended intake and limit foods that are high in added sugars and low in other nutrients. The reference value for sugars for an average adult is 90 grams.
3, Sodium (salt)
Sodium (salt) is needed for good health; however, too much can cause adverse health effects through its function of raising blood pressure. Our diets generally contain far more sodium than we need, due to the level of added salt in some packaged products. It is important for you to be aware of your sodium intake for heart health and you should aim to consume no more than your recommended intake. The reference value for sodium for an average adult is 2,300 milligrams.
Protein is important for the growth and repair of the body’s cells and for building muscle. It can also be used to provide energy. Animal-based foods are excellent sources of protein, such as fish, meat, chicken, eggs, milk, cheese and yogurt. Good sources of vegetable-based protein include legumes – soybeans, baked beans, kidney beans, chickpeas and lentils – nuts and seeds. Grain-based foods such as bread, cereal, rice and pasta also contribute some protein to the diet. It is best to choose protein-rich foods that are low in saturated fat. The reference value for protein for an average adult is 50 grams.
Carbohydrates are the main source of energy that fuels our body and everything it does, even thinking. Carbohydrates are sugars and starches. They are found in fruit and some vegetables, dairy foods and grain-based foods like bread, breakfast cereals, rice and pasta. Eat some grain-based foods that are wholegrain or high in fiber every day, to boost your fiber intake. The reference value for carbohydrates (both complex and simple) for an average adult is 310 grams.
Body mass index (BMI) is one method used to estimate your total amount of body fat. It is calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in meters squared (m2).
Differences in BMI between people of the same age and sex are usually due to body fat. However, there are exceptions to this rule, which means a BMI figure may not be accurate.
BMI calculations will overestimate the amount of body fat for:
- body builders
- some high-performance athletes
- pregnant women.
Risks of being overweight (high BMI) and physically inactive
If you are overweight (with a BMI over 25) and physically inactive, you may develop:
- cardiovascular (heart and blood circulation) disease
- gallbladder disease
- high blood pressure (hypertension)
- type 2 diabetes
- certain types of cancer, such as colon and breast cancer
- depression and other mental health disorders.
Risks of being underweight (low BMI)
If you are underweight (BMI less than 18.5), you may be malnourished and develop:
- compromised immune function
- respiratory disease
- digestive diseases
Waist circumference and health risks
Waist circumference can be used to indicate health risk for chronic diseases.
- 94 cm or more – increased risk
- 102 cm or more – substantially increased risk.
- 80 cm or more – increased risk
- 88 cm or more – substantially increased risk.
The basic principles of good diets are: eat less, move more, eat lots of fruits & vegetables and go easy on junk foods.-Marion Nestle
Sources & useful links:
My Daily Intake>> The Daily Intake Guide (DIG) website helps you learn more about how to use DIG to balance your daily intake and enjoy a balanced diet.
Food Choices >> Food Choices® is nutrient analysis software for you to analyse your diet, keep a diet diary, plan your meals, analyse your recipes, and explore the nutrient content of foods.
Better Health Channel >> A wide range of health& medical information.