Eating Healthy Is Part Of The Body's Restoration Process
A balanced diet is one you eat that gives your body the nutrients that it needs to function correctly. In order to get the proper nutrition from your diet, you should always obtain the majority of your daily calories from:
- fresh fruits
- fresh vegetables
- whole grains
- lean proteins
A balanced diet is important because your organs and tissues in your body needs proper nutrition to work effectively.
Without good nutrition, your body will be more prone to disease, infection, fatigue, and poor performance.
Children who consume a poor diet run the risk of growth and developmental problems and poor academic performance. This bad eating habits can continue for the rest of their lives, if there is no change.
The rising levels of obesity and diabetes in America are two prime examples of the effects of a poor diet and a lack of exercise. The USDA reports that four of the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States are directly influenced by poor diet. These are:
- heart disease
If you want to achieve a balanced diet, you must have at the core of your diet foods that are low in unnecessary fats and sugars but is high in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.
The following food groups are very essential parts of a balanced diet.
Fruits besides being a great source of nutrition, make tasty snacks. Always choose fruits that are in season in your area because they will be fresher and will provide the most nutrients.
Vegetables are the primary source of essential vitamins and minerals.
Dark, leafy greens generally contain the most nutrition and should be eaten at every meal.
A variety of vegetables will help you obtain the bountiful nutrients that all vegetables provide. Examples of dark leafy greens include:
- green beans
- collard greens
- Swiss chard
According to the USDA, Americans consume a lot of refined white flour more than any other grain. Unfortunately, refined white flour contains poor nutritional value because the hull of the grain is removed during the refining process. The hull is the outer shell of the grain and is where the majority of the grain’s nutrition lies.
Whole grains, however, are prepared using the entire grain, including the hull, so they provide much more nutrition. Try switching from white breads and pastas to whole-grain products, it will do you a whole lot of good.
Meats and beans are primary sources of protein, this is very essential for proper muscle and brain development.
Lean, low-fat meats such as chicken, fish, and certain cuts of beef are the best options. Removing the skin and trimming off any visible fat are easy ways to reduce the amount of fat and cholesterol in meats.
The health and diet of the animal are very important as this has a great influence on the fatty acid profile of their meat, so grass-fed choices are ideal.
Other good sources of protein, which contain many other health benefits, fiber and other nutrients, include nuts and beans, such as:
- sunflower seeds
Tofu, tempeh, and other soy-based products are excellent sources of protein and are healthy alternatives to meat.
Dairy products provide us with calcium, vitamin D, and other essential nutrients.
However, they’re also major sources of fat, so it’s best to choose small portions of full-fat cheeses, and reduced-fat or fat-free milk and yogurt.
Plant-based milks, such as those made from flaxseed, almond, or soy are typically fortified with calcium and other nutrients, making these excellent alternatives to dairy from cows.
Oils should be used sparingly. Opt for low-fat and low-sugar versions of products that contain oil, such as salad dressing and mayonnaise. Good oils, such as olive oil, can replace fattier vegetable oil in your diet.
EMPTY CALORIES - AVOID, AVOID!
The source of your daily calories is just as important as the number of calories you consume As much as possible avoid deep-fried foods because they contain a large number of empty calories.
In human nutrition, the term empty calories applies to food such as solid fats and/or added sugars supplying food energy but little or no other nutrition. The USDA advises, "A small amount of empty calories is okay, but most people eat far more than is healthy." You should limit your consumption of “empty calories,” or those that provide little or no nutritional value.
According to the USDA, Americans consume empty calories most often in:
- energy drinks
- fruit drinks
- ice cream
- sports drinks and sodas (rethink your drink)
The USDA has an online calculator that can help you determine how much of each food group you should consume daily.
Aside from adding certain foods to your diet, you should also reduce your consumption of certain substances in order to maintain a balanced diet and a healthy weight. These include:
- refined grains
- solid fats
- saturated fats
- trans fats
If you have questions about your diet or feel that you need to lose weight or change your eating habits, schedule an appointment with your doctor or a dietitian. They can suggest dietary changes that will help you get the nutrition you need while promoting your overall health.
SAFETY IN FOOD HANDLING
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Food Safety and Inspection Services
Safe steps in food handling, cooking, and storage are essential to prevent foodborne illness. You can't see, smell, or taste harmful bacteria that may cause illness. In every step of food preparation, follow the four steps of the Food Safe Families campaign to keep food safe:
- Clean — Wash hands and surfaces often.
- Separate — Don't cross-contaminate.
- Cook — Cook to the right temperature.
- Chill — Refrigerate promptly.
- Purchase refrigerated or frozen items after selecting your non-perishables.
- Never choose meat or poultry in packaging that is torn or leaking.
- Do not buy food past "Sell-By," "Use-By," or other expiration dates.
- Always refrigerate perishable food within 2 hours—1 hour when the temperature is above 90 °F (32.2 ºC).
- Check the temperature of your refrigerator and freezer with an appliance thermometer. The refrigerator should be at 40 °F (4.4 ºC) or below and the freezer at 0 °F (-17.7 ºC) or below.
- Cook or freeze fresh poultry, fish, ground meats, and variety meats within 2 days; other beef, veal, lamb, or pork, within 3 to 5 days.
- Perishable food such as meat and poultry should be wrapped securely to maintain quality and to prevent meat juices from getting onto other food.
- To maintain quality when freezing meat and poultry in its original package, wrap the package again with foil or plastic wrap that is recommended for the freezer.
- Canned foods are safe indefinitely as long as they are not exposed to freezing temperatures, or temperatures above 90 °F. If the cans look ok, they are safe to use. Discard cans that are dented, rusted, or swollen. High-acid canned food (tomatoes, fruits) will keep their best quality for 12 to 18 months; low-acid canned food (meats, vegetables) for 2 to 5 years.
- Always wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling food.
- Don't cross-contaminate. Keep raw meat, poultry, fish, and their juices away from other food. After cutting raw meats, wash cutting board, utensils, and countertops with hot, soapy water.
- Cutting boards, utensils, and countertops can be sanitized by using a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach in 1 gallon of water.
- Marinate meat and poultry in a covered dish in the refrigerator.
- Refrigerator: The refrigerator allows slow, safe thawing. Make sure thawing meat and poultry juices do not drip onto other food.
- Cold Water: For faster thawing, place food in a leak-proof plastic bag. Submerge in cold tap water. Change the water every 30 minutes. Cook immediately after thawing.
- Microwave: Cook meat and poultry immediately after microwave thawing.
Cook all raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145 °F (62.8 ºC) as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source. For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming. For reasons of personal preference, consumers may choose to cook meat to higher temperatures.
Ground meats: Cook all raw ground beef, pork, lamb, and veal to an internal temperature of 160 °F (71.1 ºC) as measured with a food thermometer.
Poultry: Cook all poultry to an internal temperature of 165 °F (73.9 °C) as measured with a food thermometer.
- Hot food should be held at 140 °F (60 °C) or warmer.
- Cold food should be held at 40 °F (4.4 ºC) or colder.
- When serving food at a buffet, keep food hot with chafing dishes, slow cookers, and warming trays. Keep food cold by nesting dishes in bowls of ice or use small serving trays and replace them often.
- Perishable food should not be left out more than 2 hours at room temperature—1 hour when the temperature is above 90 °F (32.2 ºC).
- Discard any food left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours—1 hour if the temperature was above 90 °F (32.2 ºC).
- Place food into shallow containers and immediately put in the refrigerator or freezer for rapid cooling.
- Use cooked leftovers within 4 days.
- Reheat leftovers to 165 °F (73.9 °C).
Meat and poultry defrosted in the refrigerator may be refrozen before or after cooking. If thawed by other methods, cook before refreezing.