Diet is an important element of nutrition. It is concerned with the quantity and quality of nutrients supplied by foods. In nutrition, the diet is a combination of foods eaten by an individual or other organism. The objective of a diet is to provide enough calories so that energy can be used for body functions, such as working muscles, and to avoid too much or too little in the diet, for example, excessive carbohydrates (foods high in sugars) or excessive fats (fats).
The dietary needs of humans are complex and variable. Some diets satisfy some but not all of the nutritional needs. For example, in certain circumstances, vegetables and fruits may be a major part of the diet, while in other circumstances, they may be a major source of dietary calories. A diet that involves a lot of vegetables and fruits, for example, may be low in fat because the fats in fruits and vegetables are more soluble in water than in oil, making it less difficult to digest and metabolize. Thus, they contain fewer calories than other types of fats.
Many factors contribute to the amount of food an individual consumes and to his or her weight. One factor is what the person likes: if a person finds a dish hard to eat, he or she will probably eat less of it. Another contributing factor to weight gain and obesity is overeating: eating more than what is needed. Finally, a person who tends to snack throughout the day may also be prone to gaining weight because of the increased opportunities to do so.
Eating habits, overeating, lack of exercise, poor diet quality and lifestyle, stress and aging are the most common causes of overeating and weight gain. Attaining and maintaining a healthy weight requires a change in eating habits and lifestyle. Eating less food than is needed may result in weight loss but it usually occurs only temporarily. An effective long-term weight loss strategy is to eat less frequently but in small quantities. This way, you are able to maintain a stable level of nutrition and lose only the excess pounds.
Lean meats, low fat dairy products, fruits and vegetables, whole grain carbohydrates, nuts, seeds and sprouts are recommended on the menu. You can choose from among these foods in various proportions. However, it is best to stick to one or two foods. Do not eat all types of foods at the same time or you will suffer from hunger pangs. Your diet should be primarily protein-rich in lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs and legumes.
A diet low in salt, saturated fat, sugar and cholesterol, low in animal fat, high in fiber and calcium and rich in lean dairy products should also be considered. A low-fat dairy product group consists of low-fat, low sodium, non-hydrogenated, probiotic yogurt, and low-lactose dairy products. The consumption of calcium-rich fruits, vegetables and whole grains will ensure a balanced diet. The consumption of vitamin E, beta carotene, and other antioxidants will help protect our body cells against the damage caused by free radicals.