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Healthy Eating | Holiday Snack Hazards | Vitamin Supplements

Healthy Eating

fruitsYou don't have to be a nutritionist to eat correctly. The U. S. government has prepared seven dietary guidelines for healthy eating that are easy to follow. The emphasis is on balance, variety, and moderation:

  1. Eat a variety of foods.
  2. Maintain desirable weight.
  3. Avoid too much fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol.
  4. Eat foods with adequate starch and fiber.
  5. Avoid too much sugar.
  6. Avoid too much sodium.
  7. If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation.

veggies We really are what we eat: we convert our food into various body parts - bones, muscles, skin, blood, and other tissues. A sensible diet -- one low in fat and ample in fruits, vegetables, high-fiber grains, and low-fat sources of protein - can go a long way toward maintaining good health. milk

 

The Food Guide Pyramid is issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help you plan a healthy diet. It divides foods into five major food groups:

  1. Grains, consisting of breads, cereals, rice, and pasta
  2. Vegetables
  3. Fruits
  4. Milk, yogurt, and cheeses
  5. Meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts.

A sixth group, consisting of fats, oils, and sweets, provides calories but little else of nutritional value. Each food group provides some but not all of the nutrients you need, so it is important to select from all groups.

Holiday Snack Hazards

It starts in the weeks leading up to Halloween, and it doesn't end until New Year's Day with resolutions and promises to reform. It's major league SNACK TIME. From the bags of fun-size candy bars to the holiday potlucks to the family Thanksgiving feast to the continuous stream of office Christmas parties, FOOD is EVERYWHERE!

Most people who try to lose weight during the holidays find it very difficult. Many people just want to get through the whole ordeal without putting on extra pounds.

The old rules still apply:

  • get enough exercise,
  • drink plenty of water,
  • don't consume too many calories,
  • be sure to eat your fruits and vegetables.

Snacking can actually help some people maintain a healthy weight and eat a balanced, varied diet. If you're famished in the afternoon, a healthy snack is just the ticket. A valuable strategy for snacking is to use snacks to make up for any nutritional shortcomings in your meals. Compare your daily meals to the recommended foods on the USDA's Food Guide Pyramid; categories where your meals don't add up are where you can find your best snack options.

What you should know about Vitamin Supplements

STAYING HEALTHY

If you want to be sure you are getting all the vitamins you need, eat a variety of foods every day. It is recommended that your diet include:

  • whole-grain and enriched breads and cereals (6-11 servings per day);
  • vegetables (3-5 servings per day);
  • fruits (2-4 servings per day);
  • milk, cheese, and yogurt (2-3 servings per day);
  • lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, dried beans, and tofu (2-3 servings per day);
  • eat fats, oils, and sweets sparingly.

Unfortunately, with even the best intentions, most people do not eat a well-balanced, nutritious diet. Vitamin supplements help to ensure that recommended levels of nutrient needs are met.

WHAT ARE VITAMINS AND MINERALS?

A vitamin is something that the body cannot make or produce by itself and is essential for normal body functioning. Vitamins are available naturally in foods and needed for normal growth, digestion, mental alertness, and resistance to infection.

Thirteen vitamins are necessary for good health. They are divided into 2 groups: fat-soluble and water-soluble.

  • Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble and can be stored in the liver or fat tissue for a year or longer.
  • The other 9 vitamins are water-soluble and can be stored in the body for a short period of time. They are: vitamin C and the B-vitamins:
    • B6,
    • B-12,
    • thiamin,
    • riboflavin,
    • niacin,
    • pantothenic acid,
    • biotin, and
    • folic acid.

Minerals are also beneficial. They help regulate the body's water balance and pH balance. Some minerals work with enzyme and hormone systems, others support the health of bones, teeth, and blood. For example, calcium is needed for strong bones, and iron is an essential component of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in the blood.

WHO SHOULD TAKE VITAMINS?

Children who are picky eaters: Consider a children's multivitamin to cover the nutritional basics if the child picks at his or her food. Children ages 1 to 10 need 800 milligrams (mg) of calcium per day for strong bones. That's the equivalent of 3 cups of milk or 2 cups of yogurt.

Adolescent girls and young women: Many females in this group skip meals, eat on the run, and diet. As a result, they often lack enough calories to supply all the nutrients they need for their growing bodies. Calcium is needed for bone growth. Teens (male and female) and adults need 800 to 1200 mg of calcium per day. Sources of calcium include milk, yogurt, broccoli, greens, kidney beans, and cheese.

Pregnant women: Vitamin and mineral supplements, especially folic acid, can protect the nutritional status of the mother-to-be during the extra stress of pregnancy, when increased levels of nutrients are needed for both her and the developing baby.

Women of childbearing age: Many women (including teens) experience iron deficiency, and a multivitamin or
mineral supplement with iron provides extra insurance. All women of childbearing age should take 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid per day to help prevent birth defects of the spine and brain, such as spina bifida, in a developing baby.

Seniors: Calcium is important to help slow osteoporosis, a progressive bone-thinning condition.