The Basics of Nutrition and Healthy Eating

Today, we're going to dive into the basics of nutrition and healthy eating. Whether you're new to improving your eating habits or just need a refresher, this article is for you. We'll cover macronutrients, micronutrients, food processing, mindful eating, and more. So let's get started.

Macronutrients

Macronutrients are the major components of food that provide energy and maintain our bodily structures and systems. They include carbohydrates, protein, and fat.

  • Carbohydrates: These are our brain's primary source of fuel. Some great sources of starchy carbohydrates for energy are sweet potatoes, squash, whole grain brown rice, and whole grain pasta.
  • Protein: Protein makes up every single cell in our body and helps improve satiety. Good sources of protein include hemp seeds, legumes, lentils, fish, eggs, and poultry.
  • Fat: Fat is satiating and aids in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. Healthy sources of fat include unsaturated fats from nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil, and fatty fish.

Balance with the Plate Method

The plate method is a visual tool to help balance macronutrients on your plate. Aim for half of your plate to be non-starchy carbohydrates like fruits and veggies, a quarter to be starchy carbohydrates like potatoes or rice, a quarter to be protein, and a sprinkle of healthy fat.

Micronutrients

Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals found in the foods we eat. To ensure we get a variety of micronutrients, it's important to eat a variety of colorful fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. This also provides antioxidants and polyphenols that support cellular health.

Understanding Food Processing

Not all processed foods are unhealthy. Unprocessed and minimally processed foods like fresh fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and whole grains are nutritious choices. Moderately processed foods like olive oil, whole grain pasta, and canned beans can also be part of a healthy diet. However, ultra-processed foods like sugary drinks and cookies should be limited due to their low nutrient content.

Looking Beyond Calories

Calories are just a unit of energy, and focusing solely on calorie counting can overlook the nutritional value of foods. Instead, consider what else a food contains, such as protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Mindful eating, tuning into hunger and fullness cues, is also important for a healthy relationship with food.

Conclusion

By understanding macronutrients, micronutrients, food processing, and mindful eating, you can make informed choices for a healthy diet. Remember to prioritize whole, unprocessed foods and listen to your body's cues. Enjoy a balanced and nourishing approach to nutrition.

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