Friday, February 26, 2021

Food & Nutrition: 5-Step Introduction


Healthy Foods are important to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle. There are many nutritious food choices available yet there are also foods to be aware of! Scroll this page to find out about food and nutrition and what your body needs.

Remember the Food Pyramid?

The old food pyramid has changed. We always knew it as the 6 basic food groups.

It has been revised and now has 5 basic groups which include whole grains, seeds, nuts and plant oils.

It is important you select healthy foods from each group to get the nutrients that your body needs.

1. Choosing Healthy Foods

Fats, Oils and Sweets

Food Pyramid

Healthy fat sources are nuts, fish and vegetable oils.

Minimize margarine, butter, lard, shortening and foods that contain them. This cuts back on solid fats.

Use sodium, trans fats, and saturated fats very sparingly.

Unsaturated oils, such as olive or sunflower, should be used.

Meat, Poultry, Fish, Eggs, Dry Beans and Nuts

Use lean cuts of meat.

Choose more fish, beans, peas, nuts and seeds.

Based on a 2000 calorie diet, you would eat five and one-half ounces each day.

Milk, Yogurt, Cheese and Dairy Products

Opt for low fat varieties such as skim milk, low-fat buttermilk, reduced fat yogurt and cheeses. Tofu and soy are excellent choices.

Based on a 2000 calorie diet, you would consume three cups every day.


You can use all types of fruits. They can be frozen, dried, and fresh.

Fruits are low in fat, contain fiber, and minerals and vitamins. They also help curb the sweet tooth!

Based on a 2000 calorie diet you would consume two cups of fruit every day.


Choose more dark leafy-green vegetables like broccoli and spinach.

Choose sweet potatoes and carrots and other vegetables in the orange group.

Choose peas, and dry beans such as lentils and kidney or pinto beans.

Based on a 2000 calorie diet you would consume two and one-half cups daily.


Choose whole grains cereals, breads, crackers, rice or pasta. Consume a minimum of three ounces each day. These are loaded with complex carbohydrates and fiber.

One slice of bread is about an ounce, 1 bowl (about one cup) of breakfast cereal, 1/2 bagel or English muffin, 1/2 cup of pasta or rice.

Based on a 2000 calorie diet you would consume 6 ounces daily.

2. Finding Organic Foods

The benefits of organic food has on our health outweighs the additional price that these foods cost in the grocery store.

In order to provide the biggest and best of meat and eggs, growth hormones and steroids are injected into chickens and almost every meat animal.

But it doesn’t stop there… in order to provide the best and biggest yield of crops, fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides are used for produce of all kinds.

Although it may appear to benefit because of increasing production of foods, the long term health effects from hormones and chemicals are just starting to surface.

Imagine five years, or ten years or even less… the health of the human race may have detrimental effects.

The Benefits of Organic Food

Although some government agencies claim that there are only traces, I can’t seem to wrap my mind around that. Therefore, whenever possible I purchase organic.

I have also noticed consumers are choosing organic food and requesting it in their local shops.

Almost every food that you can think of has an organic replacement.

As more people choose to purchase organic, additionally the prices are coming down and they are easier to come by in regular groceries.

What Does Organic Food Eliminate?

When you consume organic, you are eliminating:

  • Hormones
  • Pesticides and herbicides
  • Antibiotics
  • Artificial coloring and preservatives

Without the use of pesticides and herbicides, the food is much healthier. The skins of foods absorb some of the chemicals used to kill insects and weeds. This won’t just wash off.

Besides eliminating the toxins, you’re also eliminating food preservatives which increases your intake of nutrients.

There is a definite difference in the flavor of non-organic foods. Research has shown that fruit grown organically is firmer at the time of harvest and after being stored for six months than non-organic fruit.

Vegetables and fruits grown organically show notably elevated levels of cancer fighting antioxidants. The use of toxic chemicals prohibit the growth of these antioxidants.

Organic certification is a requirement and before certification is awarded, Quality Assurance International thoroughly investigates the source of production. This is to certify the products have been grown in agreement to the procedures without the use of chemicals.

Farming organically is healthier for farm workers because they are not exposed the toxic chemicals. It also eliminates pollution of water sources, mother earth, and the air we breathe.

The non-use of chemicals on the soil prevents top soil erosion and allows the soil to rebuild and be more productive.

Additionally, the benefits of organic food and farming are less pollution to communities and wildlife. Health for humans and animals are being improved.

We have the choice to enhance our health and or families health by choosing to eat organic products.

Check with your local farmer’s markets and local shops when making purchases. The prices can often be lower than the regular groceries.

3. Nutrients Your Body Needs

Are you getting the nutrients your body requires? Your body needs minerals and vitamins to convert food into energy.

You need a wide variety of healthy foods from all of the food groups to ensure your body is getting what it needs.

With your busy schedule in today’s world, you tend to skip meals while you’re on the go.

Most days you don’t consume enough of the right foods to get the required minerals and vitamins that you need.

If that’s you, consider adding supplements to your diet

Carbohydrates: They provide energy, they are the primary sources of calories, starch and fiber. They are either sugars (simple) or starches (complex). The sugars will give you a quick energy fix, but they just leave you craving more. You need to eat the starches which provide energy, such as potatoes, bread, rice, cereals, fruits and vegetables.

Fats: Fats are classified as saturated or unsaturated. This is a chemical distinction. Saturated fat increases the cholesterol content of the blood. This includes butter, cheese, milk and some meats. polyunsaturated fats are found in fish and vegetable oils, they do not add to the cholesterol content. Monounsaturated fats are found in nuts and fruit. Fats provide more than twice the calories than proteins and carbohydrates. They also accumulate in your body in large quantities and used for energy later. You do need some fats for the metabolic process.

Proteins: Protein is the most essential component because the body’s composition consists of proteins. The heart, muscles, lungs, brain and gastrointestinal organs are made up largely of protein, and protein consistently needs replenished. Meats, fish, eggs, nuts, and milk products are primary protein foods that contain the amino acids.

Water makes up about 55 to 65 per cent of our body’s weight. It’s continuously eliminated and needs replaced regularly. You can live a few weeks without food, but you can only live a few days without water. That’s why the recommended daily water intake is eight glasses of water every day.


Vitamins are in minute quantities in food in the natural state. Vitamins are essential nutrients for normal metabolism and development and maintenance of tissue. Each vitamin plays a role in your health. If any particular vitamin is missing from your diet for an excessive prolonged period, a specific disease can result.

    Vitamin A: Supports bone growth, healthy skin, night vision and resists infection.

    Vitamin C: Supports blood cells, the immune system and promotes healing.

    Vitamin D: Assists the body in absorbing calcium.

    Vitamin E: Supports red blood cells production.

    Vitamin K: Enables the production of the blood clotting factor.

    Calcium: It’s vital for building strong bones and teeth, and helps the blood to clot.

    Thiamin (B1): Thiamin assists the body in transferring carbohydrates into energy. This is required for the nervous system, muscles and heart to function correctly.

    Riboflavin: Riboflavin is essential for turning carbohydrates into energy and producing red blood cells. It is also important for vision.

    Niacin: Niacin assists the body in conversion of food into energy. It aids in digestion and is significant for nerve function.


Minerals are essential nutrients that are needed for normal metabolism and for maintenance of good health.

    Iron: Iron’s main purpose is combining copper and protein to produce hemoglobin. Hemoglobin carries oxygen in your blood to tissues needing oxygen for basic body functions.

    Copper: Copper is essential in aiding and absorption of iron. It assists Vitamin C in producing Elastin.

    Iodine: Iodine assists in the growth and performance of the thyroid gland. It controls fabrication of energy and aids fat burning by boosting metabolism.

    Manganese: Manganese is an antioxidant nutritional supplement. It’s significant breaking down the amino acids in the blood. It’s essential for metabolism of Vitamin E and B-1. It breaks down fats and cholesterol and helps nourish the nerves and brain.

    Zinc: Zinc is an antioxidant nutritional supplement, it’s essential for producing protein. It promotes healing and development of the prostate functions and male hormone activity and reproductive organs. It helps in normal tissue function and aids in the digestion and metabolism of phosphorus.

    Potassium: Potassium assists sodium in controlling the body’s heart rhythms and waste balance It assists in carrying oxygen to the brain that results in clearer thinking. It helps eliminate body waste by stimulation of the kidneys and it helps reduce high blood pressure.

    Trace Minerals: Trace minerals are necessary in the absorption and use of nutrients and vitamins. They assist in digestion and supply the means for many enzymes, hormones and necessary body purposes and responses.

4. Do You Need Dietary Supplements?

Nutritional Supplements can be a good healthy option by complementing your regular diet if you aren’t getting enough nutrients.

It is true that if you have a healthy diet and eat a wide variety of healthy foods, you’ll consume most of the nutrients that your body needs. But it’s very difficult to eat all of the required servings to accomplish that.

I believe the quality of nutrition in foods today has changed. The nutritional values aren’t nearly the high quality they used to be. For that reason alone, I take additional natural vitamins and minerals.

In today’s fast paced world, people eat on the run a lot. A lot of diets are partially made up of fast food because of the convenience.

Weight loss programs can put you at risk for nutrient deficiency when food groups are eliminated and portions of necessary foods are cut.

A lot of elderly people are at risk of nutrient deficiency simply because they don’t eat nearly as much food.

Nutrients are necessary to help your body convert food into energy.

Who Needs Nutritional Supplements?

If any of the following apply to you, a nutritional supplement would benefit you.

Eating Habits
If you only eat once or twice a day and if you consume less than five servings of fruit and vegetables daily.

Restricted Calories
If you consume less than 1200 calories a day.

Because of estrogen levels you may have increased bone loss. You may not be getting enough Vitamin D and calcium through foods.

Heavy Menstrual Cycles
This can cause iron deficiency which can lead to anemia.

Certain nutrients such as calcium, zinc and Vitamins B can be missing in a vegetarian diet.

If you decide to take supplements or are already taking them, be sure to follow the instructions as you would with any type of prescription.

5. How Many Calories do you Need?

Calories…You count them and cut them! But…You have to eat fewer or burn more!

Calculate your required daily caloric intake to maintain good health.

Physical Activity

In order for the calculation to be correct, you need to determine the type and amount of activity you do each week.

Sedentary means you are inactive.

Moderately active means you do some type of aerobic fitness 3 times a week.

Active means you do some type of aerobic fitness 5 or more times a week.

Calculating Calories Needed Daily

This is based on the results of combining your basal metabolic rate, energy expended during physical activity, and the thermic effect of food.

A simple process to estimate the amount you need follows:

  • If you are sedentary (inactive), multiply your current weight by 14.
  • If you are moderately active, multiply your current weight by 17.
  • If you are active, multiply your current weight by 20.

Example: Weight 160 lbs x 17 = 2,720. You would need to consume 2,720 to maintain your current weight. That is if you’re moderately active.

This would be the amount you need daily to maintain your current weight.

If you are trying to lose weight, it’s beneficial to reduce your caloric intake by 300 to 500 calories per day. This will allow for a weight loss of 2 to 3 pounds per week. That may seem like a slow way to go, but it’s definitely the healthiest way.

Foods consist of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. The caloric count is listed below:

  • 1 gram Carbohydrates = 4 calories
  • 1 gram Protein = 4 calories
  • 1 gram Fat = 9 calories

A calorie is a unit that measures the energy in the foods you eat. To maintain your weight you have to consume about the same amount of calories you burn. To gain weight you would need to consume more calories than you burn. To lose weight you would need to eat fewer calories than you burn.

Calorie Chart

This chart gives you food and beverage caloric counts. Download the USDA Calorie chart PDF file.
After you click on the link, you can click on File, Save as, and save it to your hard drive. You can also print it out for reference.

Burning Calories

You actually burn calories all the time, whether you are exercising or not. Your body burns them through the metabolic processes. Enzymes break the carbohydrates down into glucose and other sugars. Fats are broken into fatty acids. Protein is broken down into amino acids.

The fact is you burn calories faster if you are exercising or doing something highly active. You can burn more in the simple things you do each day. Take a few extra steps and try some of the following:

Changing TV Channels
Instead of using the remote get up and change the channel.

Take The Stairs
Don’t use the elevator or escalator, take the stairs. If you have a stairway at home, make some extra trips each day.

Parking Your Car
Park your car further away from your work or in the shopping mall and walk those extra steps.

You need a loaf of bread or a gallon of milk. If you have a local market, walk to it instead of driving.

Instead of watching the television all evening, take time to get out for a walk, or do some gardening. Get physical!

Coffee Break Time
Make that “take a walk time.” Go out and get some fresh air, and enjoy the environment.

Increasing your activity is a matter of choice. You can sit or stand, walk or ride, walk more or walk less. Doing simple activities add up fast.

Take a close look at your daily routine. Try to plan ahead and change the things you can to take extra steps. Using more energy through every day activities helps shed pounds quickly.

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Gloria Brown
Women's health and wellness retreat leader providing vacations and trips for women to get in shape -- and stay that way! On you can find my articles about weight loss, health and women's issues. Please feel free to contact me on

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