The energy available in food is measured in calories. Everything we eat provides energy, either now or later, but not all that we eat is nutricious. We eat two basic types of foods; the macronutrients which are protiens, fats, carbohydrates, and wate; and, micronutrients which are our vitamins and minerals.
Essential nutrients cannot be made by our bodies and must be taken in by what we eat, or by the use of supplements.
The Five Basic Food Groups
It would be super if all we had to do is get our food, cook it, and we would have a complet, balanced diet. Unfortunately that is not real life. Learning about the different food groups will certainly make our choices easier to make in order to obtain that balance in our diet.
Foods are grouped together by the similar nutritional properties they share. There are five basic food groups: vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy, and protein.
Vegetables: Try to eat all vegetables that are organic. Veggies may be frozen, fresh, canned or dried. The “100 precent” vegetable juices are also included in this group.
Fresh or super fast frozen should be your first choice. If using canned vegetables, drain and rinse to remove excess sodium. Vegetables are usually always low in calories and high in nutrition.
Fruits: Try to eat all organic fruits. Fruits may be eaten fresh, frozen, canned, or dried. All fruits that are “100 percent” fruit juices are in this group.
Look for canned fruits that are packed in 100% juice or water. If eating fruits packed in syrup, drain the syrup and discard.
Grains: Grains are either whole or refined. Eat only organic, healthy grains. If you need to eat gluten free, take all grains out of your diet unless you can verify they are gluten free.
Dairy: Try to eat or drink all milk products that are organic. Milk, whole or otherwise, butter, cream, and other products made with milk are included in this category.
Protein: Try to make sure all protein products are organic. This group includes lean grass-fed meats, poultry, seafood, eggs, beans, peas, organic soy products, unsalted nuts and seeds.
Limit or eliminate all processed foods, especially foods that are heavily salted or cured. You can find organic uncured meats, although most organic foods are slightly more expensive.
Use only organic oils such as avocado, olive, and coconut. There are a few more, but make sure they are organic.
Shopping for Healthy, Organic, Nutriticious Food
Shop organically and learn to read labels. The information listed on the labels is for portions so learn what a portion of any given product is and eat accordingly. Don’t forget to check the portion size.
Ingredients on the labels are listed in the most included to least included from top to bottom, or from beginning to the end. The fewer the ingredients you find in your food may mean that it is, indeed, more heathly for you. Try to not have more than three ingredients in your food. Be super wary about a long list of ingredients with many that you don’t know what are or cannot pronounce.
Just because food is labeled organic does not mean you can eat all you want. You must learn to read the portion sizes and eat accordingly. Remember, it is extremely easy to overeat if you eat fast. It may also be helpful to use smaller dishes to limit the servings of what you do eat.
A healthy diet will provide you with all the essential nutrients you need. Select from a variety of foods while balancing the amout, portion-wise, of what you consume. With some practice you can learn to be a healthy eater and wise shopper. Your results will be well worth your efforts.