We usually do not follow a diet because the word ‘diet’ sounds intimidating. We also have this misconception that following a diet implies eating less and starving yourself. On the contrary, a diet only includes your required daily nutrients in proper proportions. An active young man needs 2000 calories, while a young woman needs 1600 calories, to function properly every day. This energy that is required by our bodies is produced by a combination of carbohydrates, proteins, fatty acids, minerals and vitamins. To derive optimum energy, we must include a mix of different kinds of foods that contain the daily nutrition requirement. Here we have divided foods into five groups according to their nutritional value.
Grains: Rice, wheat, barley, oats and other variants, comprise this food group. They contain high concentration of carbohydrates that are necessary for the production of energy. Besides carbohydrates, grains are also rich in fibre and help in the digestion process. Grains are made up of the bran, the germ and the endosperm, which together contribute to the carbohydrates and the fibre content present in grains. Adults should ideally consume 3-4 ounces of grains every day. Refined grains like white rice, white bread and flour based foods mostly have starch and are low in fibre. Whole grains are a better choice since they contain the bran, the germ as well as the endosperm that make up for both carbohydrates as well as fibre.
Fruits: Fruits may be fresh, canned, frozen fruits or dried. Fruit juices also qualify as a part of this group. Fruits are rich sources of vitamins and minerals. Citrus fruits like oranges and lemons are storehouses of vitamin C, which help fight inflammation of the nose and the sinuses. Bananas are quick sources of calories that are required to produce energy. Fruits with edible peels have high fibre content essential for digestion. Blueberries and other berries are rich sources of antioxidants that help fight chronic inflammations and cardiovascular diseases. You can set your fruit consumption depending on your age, sex and amount of physical exertion. However, ideally, every average adult is expected to include at least a small apple or a banana or 32 seedless grapes or a small wedge of watermelon, in their diet.
Vegetables: Vegetables are a very important addition to your diet and can be consumed cooked, canned, frozen, fresh or raw. They contain the highest content of mineral and vitamins necessary for our bodily functions. They also add to the fibre content of your daily dietary intake. Usually, vegetables are further classified into five subgroups depending on their nutritional value. There are dark green vegetables, starchy vegetables, beans and peas, red and orange vegetables and others. Every adult should include at least 2-3 cups of vegetables in their daily diet.
Proteins: Proteins are necessary for the building of new and the repairing of old tissues. Proteins form the building blocks of bones, cartilages, blood and skin and are necessary for the production of enzymes and hormones. Protein intake is, therefore, of paramount importance. Also, proteins are no longer limited to fish, meat and poultry. Beans and peas, soy, eggs, seeds and nuts are also included in the protein food group. An average adult should consume around 5-6.5 ounces of proteins daily, and one ounce is equivalent to one serving of meat, poultry, fish, or one tablespoon of peanut butter.
Dairy Products: Daily consumption of dairy products is important since dairy products are rich sources of calcium that help build bone strength. Dairy products include milk and milk-based products like yogurt, ice cream and cheese. It does not, however, include other milk products like butter and cream since both these products fail to retain the calcium content of milk. Everyone above the age of 9 should ideally consume 3 cups of milk or equivalent amounts of other dairy-based products every day. Calcium-containing soy milk is also considered as a dairy product, so you might pick that over milk. If you are lactose intolerant, avoid milk, but you can have milk based products like yogurt.
A healthy diet is necessary to ensure a healthy life. While it is important that you eat right, it is equally important you eat the right amount of food. Neither overeating nor starving is healthy or advisable. If you overeat, the food is broken down and stored in the body and eventually results in weight gain. You should, therefore, eat the right amount of food to do all your activities through the day.