How do you choose the foods you eat? If you are like most people, taste, price, ease of preparation and nutrition play a major role.
But, chances are, eating nutritious foods is the one thing you care about most. You know making the right food choices can help prevent many health problems, including obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. But you hear so much confusing information, how do you know if you are choosing the right foods?
A good place to start is with these five characteristics of a healthy diet from nutrition experts Frances Sizer, M.S., and Eleanor Whitney, Ph.D., authors of the book, “Nutrition Concepts and Controversies.”
The Five Characteristics
- Adequacy. Be sure your diet provides enough vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to replace those you use up each day.
- Balance. Do not fill up on foods that are rich in some nutrients and ignore others that are equally important. Extra iron, for example, won’t make up for too little calcium.
- Calorie control. Take in no more calories than you use. Those calories you do not burn get stored as fat, which can lead to obesity and other health problems.
- Moderation. Limit certain foods – like those containing fat, cholesterol and sugar. Sizer and Whitney say, “Some people take this to mean that they must never indulge in a delicious beefsteak or a hot-fudge sundae, but they are misinformed – moderation, not total abstinence, is the key.
- Variety. Eat a lot of different foods. You will not only get all the nutrients you need, you will enjoy mealtimes more. Furthermore, many foods contain small amounts of toxins and contaminants your body does not notice unless you eat them a lot. Wait a few days before repeating a food to reduce the chances of any danger.