Food is the substance eaten by living things for energy and nutrients. It is generally obtained by growing, hunting or gathering it or by eating other living things (either plants or animals). People use various tools to prepare food, such as a pot, pan or frying pan, utensils like a plate, fork, spoon or chopsticks and a kitchen aid, such as a blender. Food is consumed by mouth or nose, and absorbed through the digestive system into the bloodstream. A person’s nutritional needs are met primarily through a balanced diet.
A balanced diet should include foods from each of the major groups: protein, carbohydrates, fats and fiber. A good source of protein is lean meat, fish or poultry. Other proteins are found in nuts, seeds and beans. Carbohydrates supply energy and are found in bread, cereals, fruits, and vegetables. Fats provide the body with essential fatty acids and are found in oils, butter, margarine and meats. Fiber is important for proper bowel function and can be found in whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables.
Many diseases can be prevented by eating a healthy diet. However, some disease conditions can make it difficult to eat the right amount or type of food. For example, celiac disease and food allergies can cause ill effects from gluten or certain foods. In addition, obesity and malnutrition can occur if a person eats too much or doesn’t eat enough of the right kinds of foods.
People can also suffer from emotional or psychological problems if they don’t get the nutrition they need. Anxiety, depression or stress can lead to overeating and binge eating. Obsessive or compulsive eating can result in bulimia and anorexia. People with these problems can become malnourished if they don’t seek treatment.
Most people try to eat healthy foods, but life can get in the way. Work or family obligations, a bad mood or tiredness can all interfere with planning and preparing meals that are nutritious and healthy.
To help you stay on track with your health goals, try to eat a variety of nutritious foods and avoid too many processed items. Choose water and unsweetened drinks over soda, juice and energy drinks. Include a salad or broth-based soup at the beginning of your meal to fill up without adding extra calories. When dining out, look for entrees that are grilled, broiled or baked rather than fried. Ask for a smaller portion size and don’t be afraid to substitute sides that are loaded with fats, such as fries or coleslaw, for healthier options, such as a salad or beans. And don’t forget to check the food label and ingredients list before purchasing a food item.