Healthy Eating – Choosing Food From the 5 Major Food Groups

Food is a substance that provides nourishment for an organism. Humans rely on food for survival and it is also an integral part of many cultures and traditions. Besides meeting physiological needs, food can also satisfy psychological and social functions. It is a source of energy and nutrients, such as proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and vitamins and minerals. It may also serve as a vehicle for flavor and texture, and it is often associated with pleasure and happiness.

Changing dietary habits can be challenging, especially when you start out with the best intentions: You bookmark healthy recipes, buy a pressure cooker and stock up on kale. But, life gets in the way: You get slammed with work, run out of time or become too tired to cook. Before you know it, you’re grabbing a fast-food meal because it’s just easier.

The key to a balanced diet is eating a variety of foods from the 5 major food groups:

Each group provides different types and amounts of essential nutrients. For example, the milk, yoghurt and cheese group provide calcium and protein, while the fruits group supplies vitamin C. Foods can be raw, cooked or processed and they can include additives, such as sugar, salt and preservatives. Some foods are fermented, such as yogurt and kimchi, which contain beneficial bacteria.

Having a balance of different food groups helps you avoid overeating and feeling hungry between meals. It can also help prevent diseases like heart disease, high blood cholesterol and diabetes. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring, though. There are many exciting and delicious foods available!

When shopping for food, choose items that are:

Look for fresh, unprocessed, whole foods that are low in sodium and sugar. Choose lean meats, fish and eggs, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables. Avoid highly processed and packaged foods, such as cookies, chips and candy, which are typically high in sugar, salt, saturated fat and trans-fat.

When eating out, choose salads and entrees that are baked, broiled or grilled instead of fried. Choose lean meats, skinless poultry and fish, and skip fatty sauces or gravies. If possible, eat vegetarian or vegan dishes to reduce your intake of animal products. If the portion sizes are too large, ask for a take-out bag and bring home one-third to one-half of your meal. It’s also a good idea to drink water or tea with your meal rather than soda, fruit juice or coffee. If you’re craving dessert, opt for sorbet or frozen yogurt.