Eating the right foods: what's your nutritional status?
This article gives an overview of the proper nutritional diet for daily needs and to prevent obesity and eating disorders, and how to spot good and bad food in your diet.
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With all the new fad diets out there today, it is hard to determine how to get proper nutrition without compromising yourself. Believe it or not, living by the food pyramid of four basic food groups is a sound way to develop a nutritional diet. The important part is keeping the portions within reasonable limits and the calories at a satisfactory number to sustain you working as a human being.
The most important food group, because it is where most of our energy (aka calories) come from, is the bread and grains group. It is recommended that six to eight servings from this group is eaten daily. More servings are for those who expend a large amount of energy, such as athletes, those who work out, growing children, and people with laborious occupations. Breads and grains contain many carbohydrates, which are made of good sugars that can be stored as energy. They also contain a large amount of fiber, important for digestion and metabolism. Some good sugars in this group include potatoes, rice, bread, muffins, crackers, oatmeal, cereal, pasta, etc. For food richer in vitamins and minerals, chose fortified grains and cereals, especially those containing natural wheat (not processed wheat). While good for energy storage, overloading on breads and grains, especially those containing non-nutritious sugars (such as doughnuts), can lead it an increase in feeling bloated and an increase in weight-gain. Newer "no-carb" diet fads eliminate this critical part of the food pyramid, which can lead to an overwhelming increase in fatigue, irritability, and muscle weakness. It is important to digest the recommended dose to breads and grains to maintain daily energy. To counteract possible weight gain, one should engage in more exercise to expend calories and increase total body fitness.

The fruit and vegetable category is most important with providing daily vitamins and minerals needed for growth and bodily function. Many of these substances need to be replaced daily or the body will experience deficiency symptoms, which can range anywhere from nausea and vomiting to fatigue and muscle weakness. Therefore it is recommended that four to six servings of fruits and vegetables should be consumed daily. Carrots are important sense of vision, fruits are important for regularity, and leafy greens contain many anti-oxidants, playing an important role in immune function. Very rarely to fruits and vegetables cause weight gain, so going a little overboard in this group is not really a bad thing!

The meat group includes protein containing foods such as fish, ground beef, chicken, pork, eggs, nuts, beans, and legumes. Just two to three daily servings of this group can provide the daily requirement without an overload of the fatty tissue that is often in meat. Protein is an important factor in muscle growth, and meats also contain a large amount of iron, which is vital to carry oxygen to body tissues. Deficiency of iron, often seen in women and vegetarians, leads to anemia, which can lead to an increase in fatigue and muscle weakness. In addition, fish contains a large amount of omega-3 fatty acids, which are important in women's health. Finally, nuts and beans also contain fiber, important in regularity. Red meat servings should not be overdone due to its high fat content. Whenever possible, lean meat should be consumed to prevent an increase in fatty plaque formation. In addition, meat should be grilled and not fried, to eliminate further fatty additives.

Finally, the dairy group demands two to four servings a day, with more servings for children and women. Milk, cheese, and yogurt are vital for bone growth and maintenance. However, the dairy group also adds fat and cholesterol, which, if over served, can lead to weight gain and the potential for plaque formation in the arteries. Therefore it is important to pick low-fat items in the dairy group, such as reduced-fat cheese and two percent or skim milk. It should be noted that anyone who eliminates dairy from their diet can be at risk for developing osteoporosis later in life, increasing the chance for fractures.

Sometimes the food pyramid includes a fifth group of fat and simple sugars, allowing one to two servings daily. However, if one follows the previous guideline of meat, dairy, grains, and fruits and vegetables, additional intact of fats is not necessary. The body does require some daily fat intact for the cells to work, but a proper diet should give an adequate amount of fat without need for extra servings.

Fad diets should be carefully analyzed with your physician before tried. Most people who are overweight can lose extra pounds by lowering their calorie intake and increasing their exercise (or energy expenditure). Diets that suggest eliminating a particular food group can be hazardous, as each food group has an important contribution in nutrition. By following the simple food pyramid, and limiting calorie intake to 2000-2500 a day, your nutrition will be balanced without weight gain. Remember - read box to see what you are really getting out of your food!