Most of us I know we are wondering what I mean by empty calories, but worry no more I got you covered. These are calories that come from foods with little or no nutritional value. Many packaged foods and drinks contain empty calories. Examples include; Processed meat, Energy drinks and sodas, Cookies, Cakes and donuts, Fast foods like pizzas, chips, Candy bars, and chocolate bars. Etc.
so as not to lose you on the way, let me make it clearer. A calorie is an energy that you get from the food you consume. And so, the caloric requirement for an individual depends on gender, physical activity, and body weight. Men generally require more calories than women. The recommended intake for an average woman is between 1,600 to 2,400 Kcal per day, while for men is 2,000 to 3,000 kcal per day. Henceforth, healthy eating is essential for nutrition and good health.
What is a Healthy diet?
This is a diet that contains a variety of foods with an adequate amount of nutrients that the body requires. A balanced diet consists of nutrients in the right proportions from carbohydrates, proteins, fruits, vegetables, and dairy. These nutrients can be drawn from natural available foods. It is recommended for people to take whole foods other than processed food.
The following are examples of foods found in each food group.
carbohydrates: Whole grains, legumes, potatoes, barley, oats,
Proteins: Beans, lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products.
Vegetables: Cabbage, cauliflower, kales, spinach
Fruits: Bananas, oranges, pineapple, melons, apple, pears
Dairy: Milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or alternatives.
Why eat a balanced diet?
- Managing a healthy body weight that is not underweight or overweight.
- The strong immune system, by incorporating lots of fruits and green leafy vegetables.
- Food’s rich in antioxidants slow the effects of aging and help you live longer.
- Improve your mental health and well-being
- Lowers the risk of non-communicable diseases such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and skeletal conditions.
Here are some tips for healthy eating
- No one food contains all the necessary nutrients, eat a variety of whole foods and reduce or eliminate processed foods from your diet.
- Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables (especially dark green vegetables). Take five portions of vegetables and fruits every day.
- Control the amount of red meat you consume. Go for lean meat and animal protein as a substitute.
- Drink eight glasses of water per day.
- Use vegetable oil instead of solid fats.
- Reduce or eliminate sugar-added drinks.
- Moderate the salt intake. A diet high in salt can lead to high blood pressure and increase the risk of stroke
- Avoid overeating.
Emelda Onyango has written this article. She is a nutritionist by Profession and an intern in MeMA based in Nairobi.