A crucial aspect of health and development involves healthy eating. Consuming well-balanced and nutritious foods play a vital role in ensuring that you have a good weight which is an essential aspect of good health. A well-balanced and healthy diet means that your meals contain very low amounts of foods which are filled with sugars and saturated fats. As a result, they will contain large amounts of vegetables and fruits. One way of ensuring that you consume all the healthy nutrients is by using the. This article gives an introduction to this food pyramid as well as the fundamentals of healthy eating.
It is a guide which suggests the level of food quantities that a human should consume daily in each type of food category. The visual nutrition guide contains 5 main food groups including healthy fats.
It contains the “eat-more layer” which should have 5 to 7 daily servings of vegetables, fruits, and salads. Rice, pasta, and potatoes should have 3 to 5 daily servings while cheese, yogurt, milk, and other dairy products should have a maximum of 3 servings per day. The ‘eat-less layer’ consists of meat, nuts, eggs, fish, and beans which should be taken a maximum of 2 times while foods with high sugar, salt, and fat content should be taken in very small amounts.
In summary, the pyramid indicates that healthy eating should contain:
- Plenty of veggies and frits
- Servings of grains
- Some dairy-based protein
- Some meat, nuts, poultry etc.
- Very small amounts of oils and fats
- Very small or no amount of salt, fat, and sugar-filled foods.
The Fundamentals of Healthy Eating
In order for your body to function and for you to be healthy, it’s important that you consider the fundamentals of healthy eating. This will easily set you on the best and right path of good health. A good diet and a well-balanced diet should contain:
Fiber is roughage that is mainly found in plant-based foods. Note that dietary fiber can’t be broken down fully by the digestive enzymes. Fiber normally contains pectin, lignin, and cellulose. They are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber absorbs water and it normally turns into a mushy gel-like product. The converse is true for insoluble fiber.
Sources of Fiber
- Soluble fiber: Oatmeal, blueberries, Strawberries, beans, nuts, and apples.
- Insoluble fiber: Brown rice, wheat-based bread, fruit skins, and seeds
Health Benefits of Fiber
- Promoting satiety by reducing hunger pangs
- Promoting weight loss
- Enhancing digestive health by reducing symptoms of fecal incontinence, hemorrhoids, and constipation.
Side Effects of Excess Fiber
- Temporary weight gain
- Diarrhea and abdominal pain
- Constipation, flatulence, and bloating
- Reduced levels of blood sugar
They are foods which are responsible for energy production. Proteins are molecules that the body cells need in order to properly function. Their structure contains amino acids and they support various cognitive functions in the body.
Sources of Protein
- Seafood e.g. salmon
- Yogurt, cheese, and milk
- White meat such as poultry
- Beans and soy
- Pork tenderloin
- Lean beef
Health Benefits of Proteins
- Enzyme development
- Great sources of energy
- Promotes skin, muscle, bones, and cartilage development
- Supports the formulation and the levels of hormones in the body
- Improves mood
- Supports cognitive functions
Side Effects of Excess Proteins
- Kidney diseases
- Digestive problems such as diarrhea, bloating, stomach cramps, and gassing.
- Reduced appetite
Dietary Fat is a vital part of health and nutrition. However, the body needs a moderate amount of healthy/good fat for it to function effectively. There are four types of fats: Tran’s fats, monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, and saturated fats. Trans are the worst types of fats and should be avoided at all costs.
Sources of Fats
- Polyunsaturated fats: sunflower oils, corn, safflower, grapeseed, soybean, cottonseed.
- Monounsaturated fats: olive oil, avocado, and macadamia nuts.
- Saturated fats: MCT oil, coconut oil, grass-fed meat, and raw butter.
Benefits of Healthy Fats
- Organ protection e.g. the heart and the brain
- Omega-3s and -6s which are found in polyunsaturated fats help to support cell development, hormonal balance and reduce inflammation. They are also responsible for improved muscle function.
Side Effects of Unhealthy Fats
- Increased likelihood of heart diseases
- Weight gain and obesity
- High blood cholesterol
It’s a mineral that’s found in numerous types of foods. Calcium helps to strengthen the body and improve its structure. The body normally stores nearly all the calcium in teeth and bones, supporting their development as well as improving and hardening their structure.
Sources of Calcium
- Leafy greens
- Cheese, milk as well as other types of dairy products
- Soya beans
Health Benefits of Calcium
- Essential for heart health
- Improves bone strength
- Protects the body against diseases such as high blood pressure, cancer, or diabetes
- Supports nerve function
Side Effects of Excess Calcium
- Reduced absorption of other minerals including zinc and iron
- Narrowing of blood vessels
- Prostate cancer
- Sleep difficulties, depression and anxiety
- Kidney stones
They are the foods which provide the body with energy. Carbohydrates consist mainly of starches and sugars that are normally broken down and converted into glucose which is used to feed the body’s cells. They are considered as the most essential type of food which the body requires for production of energy and supply of nutrients.
Sources of Carbohydrates
- Legumes such as beans, lentils etc.
- Starchy vegetables like corn and potatoes
- Grain products like cereal, rice etc.
- Fruits and fruit juices
- Dairy products like ice cream and yogurt
- Sugary products like cookies, candy, soda etc.
Health Benefits of Carbohydrates
- They are the main energy sources for the body
- Help to refuel the heart muscles, the brain, and kidneys
- Promote healthy digestion
- Enhance satiety
- Moderate the blood cholesterol
Side Effects of Excess Carbohydrates
- Lead to weight gain
- Increase the level of blood sugar
- Can cause diabetes
- Lead to constipation
- Can cause vascular diseases or atherosclerosis
Switching to a Healthy Diet
Although it’s not easy to completely switch to a healthy diet, it’s actually possible. All you need to do is to make healthy eating decisions. You don’t have to eliminate all the foods that you enjoy from your diet completely. You can have cheat days and also don’t forget that you don’t need to implement your new diet changes at once. The best approach is by making small diet changes over time and you’ll experience the progress. Drink more water today than yesterday, take a salad instead of soda and so on. Some of the tips that you should consider when making this switch include:
- Learning to prepare your own meals.
- Cutting back on sugary and fat-rich foods/drinks and replacing them with healthy and nutritious alternatives.
- If you are purchasing food, check its label to ensure that it contains the right type and amount of ingredients.
- Drink lots of water to eliminate toxins and waste from the body
- Your main focus should be how you feel after you’ve eaten. Note that junk foods will make you feel more nauseous, fatigued, and uncomfortable after eating.
How to Effectively Plan and Prepare for Meals Beforehand
Healthy eating can only be successful if you plan before. To do this, stock your kitchen with all the essential groups of food as well as ingredients. Additionally, you need to have a stash of easy-to-follow and quick-to-prepare recipes of foods and healthy snacks.
Purchase most of your foods from grocery stores. Most retail outlets are filled with packaged foods that are processed which aren’t suitable for healthy eating. On the contrary, the edges of these grocery shops mostly have fresh and non-GMO foods.
It’s possible to have a meal plan that can last you a month if not a couple of weeks. Have a meal plan that contains foods that you will be eating regularly. Furthermore, it important to have recipes and create a schedule for each one of them.
Because of work, profession, or lifestyle, it’s sometimes not possible to cook. However, ensure that you can cook most of your meals as much as possible. Additionally, you can prepare them in bulk if you have time and then store it in your fridge. The benefits of cooking ahead are that it helps to save money as well as time. Additionally, the food is also delicious and contains the right amount of calories just as you want.
The guide was specially designed to promote healthy eating. It makes the whole process easier and ensures that the user ends up consuming the right amount of nutrients i.e. minerals, vitamins, carbs, protein, and fat. Foods which have similar nutrients are normally grouped together. Overall, this pyramid is an effective guide that helps you to eat the right amount of nutrients daily.