Healthy eating involves the key principles of balance, variety, and moderation. Your diet must be balanced, varied, and moderate in order to be healthy. Two additional principles that are essential to healthy eating are the concepts of nutrient density and energy density.

Healthy Eating Involves Balance between Food Groups

A balanced diet includes healthy proportions of all nutrients and is adequate in energy. A diet that lacks balance can cause under nutrition. Under nutrition is a state of inadequate nutrition whereby a person’s nutrient and/or energy needs aren’t met through the diet. If the diet lacks a particular nutrient, such a protein, over time the body suffers from malnutrition. This is the long-term outcome of consuming a diet that is either lacking in the essential nutrients or contains excess energy; an imbalance of nutrients in the diet. Of course, there is also over nutrition. This is the state of consuming excess nutrients or energy.

Healthy Eating Means Consuming a Variety of Foods

The point above emphasized this. It isn’t enough to just eat what ever is in the refrigerator. Choosing a variety of foods will improve the quality of the diet because the more varied the food choices, the better the chance of consuming adequate amounts of all the essential nutrients. Even within one food group, the nutrient composition of foods can vary dramatically. Because no single food or food group contains everything you need to be healthy, you should choose a variety of foods from within each food group and among foods groups each day to achieve a healthy diet.

Healthy Eating Means Moderate Intake of All Foods

Let’s talk about moderation. This is the dieting principle of consuming reasonable but not excessive amounts of foods and nutrients. Healthy eating doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your favorite foods. It simply means eating those foods in moderation by limiting the portion size and number of servings you eat.

Tips for Controlling Portion Size

According to recent studies, young adults have distorted views of what a correct portion size should be.

Controlling Portion Size When You Are At Home

Measure foods until you develop an “eye” for correct portion sizes.

Use smaller plates so portions appear larger.

Cook smaller portions to avoid picking at the left-overs.

Don’t eat from the box, or bag. Measure a portion size fist, then eat only that amount.

Supplement your meals with bulk foods that have little energy density. Nutrient density is the measurement of the nutrients in a food compared with the kilocalorie content; nutrient-dense foods are high in nutrients and low in kilocalories.

Controlling Portion Size When You Are Eating Out

Ask for half orders when available.

Order an appetizer as your entrée.

Stop eating when you’re full and take the rest home; don’t be compelled to clean your plate.

Controlling Portion Size When You Are Buying Groceries

Be aware of the number of servings in a package; read the labels.

Buy foods that are already divided into portion sizes.

Divide foods into portion sizes and consume only one portion at one sitting.

Eat With Your Hands!

A woman’s palm is approximately 3 ounces of cooked meat, chicken or fish.

A woman’s fist is about 1 cup of pasta or vegetables (a man’s fist is the size of about 2 cups).

The tip of the finger is about 1 teaspoon of margarine.

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