Good nutrition, based on healthy eating is one essential factor that helps us to stay healthy and be active. Poor eating habits include under- or over-eating, not having enough of the healthy foods we need each day, or consuming too many types of food and drink, which are low in fibre or high in fat, salt and/or sugar.
These unhealthy eating habits can affect our nutrient intake, including energy, protein, carbohydrates, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals as well as fibre and fluid.
How does poor nutrition affect us
Poor nutrition can impair our daily health and wellbeing and reduce our ability to lead an enjoyable and active life. In the short term, poor nutrition can contribute to stress, tiredness and our capacity to work, and over time, it can contribute to the risk of developing some illnesses and other health problems.
Steps to good nutrition – it’s easier than you think
A good place to start is to:
- Have a good variety of healthy foods from the five food groups each day.
- Aim for two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables each day.
- Only occasionally eat sugary, fatty or salty food, and then only in small amounts.
- Drink fresh, clean tap water instead of sugary drinks.
- Switch over to healthy recipes that look and taste good.
- Plan your meals ahead and shop for healthy ingredients
- Enjoy cooking and eating healthy food with family or friends and without distractions such as the television
Carefully choosing your food is one way to eating healthy, but that’s just one part of it. The next important thing is preparing the food in the best way possible in order to derive the best of the nutrients and nourishment in the food.
Here’s how to get the best nutrition out of some of the foods you stuff into your mouth.
The best thing you can do with your broccoli is steam it. Boiling, microwaving, and stir-frying all break down more vitamin C, chlorophyll, proteins, and other nutrients. And the shorter the cooking time, the more nutrients you save. To add flavour, dress up steamed broccoli with a little olive oil, sea salt, and lemon juice.
Cool your potatoes to room temperature or chill it in your potato salad. The cooler they are, they more “resistant starches” they will have. These starches take longer to digest and help keep your gut healthy. They may also lower your chances of obesity, colon cancer, and diabetes.
In just around 75 calories, one egg gives you about 6 grams of high-quality protein, all nine of the essential amino acids your body needs, and lots of vitamin D (which is hard to get from food). But all that goodness gets offset when you cook it in fat and add a pile of pancakes dripping in butter and syrup with a side of bacon and hash browns. Try your egg poached with some sauteed spinach, or hard-boiled on whole-grain toast.
There’s nothing wrong with tap water. It has fluoride, which helps keep your teeth strong and prevent tooth decay. Bottled water is chic but may not always have fluoride. The most important thing is to ensure that the water you drink is not clean and uncontaminated. Boil and filter your drinking water if you are not certain about its purity.
You are better off chewing your fruit and drinking water when you are thirsty, especially if you’re already overweight or have diabetes. Even those products that claim 100% lose nutrition during processing. Juice also doesn’t have the fibre that gives you a feeling of fullness and slows the absorption of sugar into your system. Regular sugar spikes from fruit juice can lead to health problems like diabetes, obesity, and liver damage.
It is a great source of protein but it can also be loaded with saturated fat, which should only make up a small part of your diet. Choose lean cut or trim the fat off your meat before cooking it.
Stick with the basic brew and skip the “double-caramel-frappe-mocha-latte-chino” served in a bucket-sized cup. Your choice should be low calorie, not the sugar-sweetened soft drinks.
You probably eat this once a day already. Overcooked pasta gets mushy, has a higher glycemic index—which means your body absorbs it faster.
Slightly springy pasta tastes better and is better for you. Drain it soon after it loses the outer crunch, even if there’s still a trace of darker yellow inside. The type of pasta will affect its cook time. Start testing for doneness before the earliest time recommended on the package.
The powerful antioxidant lycopene found in tomatoes helps protect against cancer, heart disease, stroke, and other problems. And it’s easier to get from cooked (think canned tomatoes and long-simmered sauces) rather than raw fruits.
However you eat them, add a little olive oil to help your body absorb the phytonutrients.