Guidelines of Good Nutrition

Although the word diet has been recognized as times when we try to lose or gain weight, diet is whatever we eat.

There are many factors involved that explain why we make our food choices. Habit is one of these factors. We are accustomed to eating a certain types of food. These foods are familiar for us, so we choose them often. This familiarity could be brought about because of tradition, religion or our ethnic heritage. Availability and convenience are other factors that affect people's food choices. If the foods are readily available and easy to prepare, they are chosen more often. Some foods are chosen because of their emotional effect. They make people feel better or are associated with being fun. In tight economic situations, price determines food choices. In some situations social pressure affects what we eat. We cannot refuse the foods that are offered to us. Nutritional value is the other factor that affects food choices. Unfortunately, with so much misinformation about good nutrition, sometimes it is difficult to design a nutritious diet.

There is no diet that would be perfect for everyone. Each of us has food preferences that are affected by the above mentioned factors. We have our own habits and eating patterns. We will start with what we already have. Once we can define that, we will try to find out what parts of our diet are nutritious and which parts needs to be changed. Sometimes total change is necessary. The ideal diet should be to adapt to our needs. It should correlate with our activity level, our health status and our environment. The ideal diet should be designed for lifelong health and not just for short term weight loss.

The pillars of sound nutrition when designing a diet are variety, balance and moderation. A well planned diet offers variety while being balanced with regards to food types and moderate in energy. Such a diet is made of foods of high nutrient density.

Below you will find the USDA and Dept of Health and Human Services (DHHS) dietary guidelines.

  1. Eat a variety of foods.
  2. Balance your food intake with physical activity to maintain or improve your weight.
  3. Choose a diet with plenty of grain products, vegetables and fruits.
  4. Choose a diet low in fat, saturated fat and cholesterol.
  5. Choose a diet moderate in sugars.
  6. Choose a diet moderate in salt and sodium.
  7. If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation.