GUIDELINES FOR HEALTHY EATING
Eating a variety of foods and maintaining an energy balance
are basic guidelines for a healthy diet. Good nutrition is not
complicated for those who understand these dietary guidelines.
To be properly nourished, one should regularly eat a
wide variety of foods from the major food groups, selecting a
variety of foods from within each group. A well-balanced
diet provides all the nutrients needed to keep one healthy.
Most healthy adults do not need vitamin or mineral supplements
if they eat a proper variety of foods. There are no known advantages
in consuming excessive amounts of any nutrient, and there may
be risks in doing so.
For one get enough fuel from the food they eat and
to obtain the variety of foods needed for nutrient balance, one
should eat three meals a day. Even snacking between meals can
contribute to good nutrition if the right foods are eaten.
Another dietary guideline is to consume enough calories to
meet one's energy needs. Weight is maintained as long as the body
is in energy balance, that is, when the number of calories used
equals the number of calories consumed.
The most accurate way to control caloric intake is to control
the size of food portions and thus the total amount of food ingested.
One can use standard household measuring utensils and a small
kitchen scale to measure portions of foods and beverages. Keeping
a daily record of all foods eaten and physical activity done is
To estimate the number of calories you use in normal daily
activity, multiply your body weight by 13 if you are sedentary,
14 if somewhat active, and 15 if moderately active. The result
is a rough estimate of the number of calories you need to maintain
your present body weight. You will need still more calories if
you are more than moderately active. By comparing caloric intake
with caloric expenditure, the state of energy balance (positive,
balanced, or negative) can be determined.
For calorie information on more than 6000 food items, visit Calorie Charts
Avoiding an excessive intake of fats is another fundamental
dietary guideline. A high intake of fats, especially saturated
fats and cholesterol, has been associated with high levels of
Avoiding an excessive intake of fats is an important fundamental of nutrition.
The blood cholesterol level in most Americans is too high.
Blood cholesterol levels can be lowered by reducing both body
fat and the amount of fat in the diet. Lowering elevated blood
cholesterol levels reduces the risk of developing coronary artery
disease (CAD) and of having a heart attack. CAD, a slow, progressive
disease, results from the clogging of blood vessels in the heart.
Good dietary habits help reduce the likelihood of developing CAD.
It is recommended that all persons over the age of two should
reduce their fat intake to 30 percent or less of their total caloric
intake. The current national average is 38 percent. In addition,
we should reduce our intake of saturated fat to less than 10 percent
of the total calories consumed. We should increase our intake
of polyunsaturated fat, but to no more than 10 percent of our
total calories. Finally, we should reduce our daily cholesterol
intake to 300 milligrams or less.