Eating well is vital to good health. When we eat we are doing a lot more than filling an empty stomach. Food provides energy for the body to do it’s daily activities. A balanced diet makes our bodies look, feel and work well, food prevents diseases.
The food we eat is made up of four major chemicals; proteins, carbohydrates, fats and vitamins and minerals. Each of these are very important and are needed in different amounts for our body.
Protein is essential for growth and repair of our bodies. Protein is found in meat, fish, legumes, lentils, eggs, poultry and dairy products.
Carbohydrates are made up of starch and sugar. The starchy carbohydrates are found in spaghetti, bread cereal, rice, potatoes and most fruits and vegetables. Sugar is found in foods such as sweets, soft drink and other ‘sugary’ foods. Carbohydrates make up about 50 percent of the body’s energy needs. Excess carbohydrates are stored by the body and used when needed.
Also provide energy to the body. Excess fat in our diet is stored and converted to energy as required. Fats have a bad reputation, but are an essential part of our diet. Fats are found I products like oil, butter and margarine and are used to give flavour to foods.
Vitamins & Minerals
Vitamins and minerals are found in a variety of foods and our bodies need them in varying amounts. Most people can obtain sufficient quantities by eating a variety of foods, particularly fruits and vegetables.
Don’t forget the water
Water is a very important component of our diet. Although it has no nutritional value water is essential for digestion and bodily structure.
The simplest way to plan a balanced diet is to select enough foods every day from each of the four groups; the meat group, which includes meat, poultry, fish, eggs and legumes as well as milk products fruit and vegetables and breads and cereals.
An adequate balanced diet is essential to good health and contributes to the prevention of diseases, including cancer.
How can a person determine his or her ideal weight?
Ideas about ideal weight vary from generation to generation and culture to culture.
Obesity is often looked upon as a mark of distinction in some societies where food is scarce because it indicates that a person has enough money to eat well.
Some Polynesian cultures consider it a sign of beauty to be so well nourished as to become fat.
Other cultures take girls to “fattening houses”, where they become obese before being offered in marriage to the adolescent males.
On the other hand, when food is abundant, as it is for most Australians there is often distaste for fatness.
Just like your height, your body shape is something that you inherited. We always hear of the media portraying unrealistic body images of both men and women. We are not all born with the same body type, we just need to keep what we have fit and healthy.
Severe unhealthy weight-loss diets can cause the body to lose not just fat but essential fluids, electrolytes and minerals. The best diets combine a small, steady reduction of calories with a significant increase in exercise. Short periods of exercise do not increase the appetite.
For weight management, a person should exercise at least three times a week for 20 minutes each time.
Permanent weight loss and weight control result from permanent changes in exercise and eating habits.