Nutrition Pyramid

Healthy Diet & Lifestyle, Food Groups, Nutrition Before & During Pregnancy, Child (preschool) Nutrition, Physical Activity & more


“Good nutrition and vitamins do not directly cure disease, the body does. You provide the raw materials and the inborn wisdom of your body makes the repairs. Someday healthcare without megavitamin therapy will be seen as we today see childbirth without sanitation or surgery without anesthetic.” Andrew W. Saul, the “Megavitamin Man.

In 1912, The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) celebrated 1911 as the healthiest year recorded till then. Noting that more people were living past the age of 100, the Journal accorded the triumph of American athletes at international sporting events like the Stockholm Olympics to their racial vigor. Racial vigor soon translated into the outcome of a healthy and energetic lifestyle. Herein lay the dawn of modern health practices, to provide the means for the common man to learn about and shift to a healthy and energetic lifestyle, which concept has grown into a global business in the trillions of dollars today.

Hark back even further to the nineteenth century and earlier. Our forefathers, the average people of that era, had really no means to go from Place ‘A’ to Place ‘B’, except on foot. Their financial situation warranted the requirement to travel to their place of work without mechanical aid. There were no cars, no motorcycles or any other forms of motorized, or, for that matter, horse drawn transportation for poor old great-great-granddad. While it increased the amount of time he spent away from home, he was unconsciously ‘working out’ and burning energy walking to work and back. His lifestyle was, willy-nilly, energetic and he gained and maintained good health as a direct outcome of his exertions.

In his era, there were no such maladies as Myocardial Infarction−the dreaded Heart Attack− or obesity, or deaths linked to lack of regular physical lifestyle. True, medical science was in its infancy and the leading causes of death were Tuberculosis, Diabetes, Angina, Malaria, Burns, Small Pox, Epilepsy, Apoplexy, Asthma, and Spontaneous Combustion (especially of alcoholics). These diseases were not related to physical activity, but to circumstance. Chart 1 gives a breakdown of the main causes of deaths in 1900. Nature, in her unfathomed and unstoppable manner, was balancing life and death.

Industrialization saw a gradual but inexorable shift from the lifestyle of the 19th century. While the rich and landed gentry did own horse-drawn carriages, very few lived a sedentary lifestyle. The bicycle, the dandy horse, also called Draisienne or laufmaschine, was the first human means of transport to use only two wheels in tandem and it took a Baron, the German Baron Karl von Drais, to invent it. It is regarded as the modern bicycle’s forerunner. It was not really affordable for the impecunious, but was the preferred means of transportation for its owners, mainly the middle class and higher. It still is, but has come down to an affordable price − in a motorized world − for the working class in China, India, Vietnam and many other countries.

Chart 1

Its greatest property was that it required a physical exercise. Today’s bicycles are sleek and expensive lightweight contraptions, fitted with various auxiliaries, but they still require physical effort. In fact, most advanced countries have built bicycle tracks wherever possible, except of course in congested business areas (like Wall Street or anywhere in Manhattan, admittedly two extreme examples). Most housing divisions are required to have one; smaller cities have dedicated cycle-tracks.

One strange and bizarre concept that was floated in the early 1900s was that eulogizing the survival of the fittest, or eugenics. This stemmed from the continuous increase in lifespan, where the weak, who had hitherto died young, were getting an extended lease of life. The NEJM carried a baseless but futuristic optimistic editorial in 1912 stating:

Perhaps in 1993, when all the preventable diseases have been eradicated, when the nature and cure of cancer have been discovered, and when eugenics has superseded evolution in the elimination of the unfit, our successors will look back at these pages with an even greater measure of superiority.

The medical establishment had mixed feelings about how modernization was impacting health. Longevity had increased but such paeans to progress did not diminish concern about changing lifestyle factors that were debilitating, such infirmities increasing with the passage of time. Chart 2 represents how fatality had diversified due to unknown ailments. One cause was the rise of “automobile knee”, indicating that cars were creating a sedentary section of humanity – an absolute change in routine that is visibly prevalent and, in all probability, increasing by the day. The contemporaneous manifestation is the couch potato we are dealing with now, owing to the rise of the television and computer culture . Physical inactivity led rapidly to heart disease, especially when coupled with diabetes.

Chart 2

Our conceptions of prevailing diseases are constantly changing, based on many factors. It’s a drifting and evolving snapshot of a specific era’s fears and foibles, frailties and cultural mores. Studying the multifold new maladies that have emerged in the past 200 odd years, statisticians have labeled how new diseases surface. New causes (bird flu, motorized vehicle accidents), new behaviors (smoking, injecting drugs), and even new therapies (radiation poisoning while fighting cancer) produce strange mutated diseases. Changes in environment along with societal conditions can swell the pervasiveness of once-vague disorders (myocardial infarction, Ebola, lung cancer, the neurodegenerative and fatal ‘mad cow syndrome’, etc.).

New diagnostic tools can reveal previously unrecognized conditions (hypertension, Alzheimer’s). Changing social mores and acceptance can decide what is or is not a disease. HIV–AIDS is a great example showing these modes of emergence. The emergence, recognition, and impact of disease cannot just be a bio-scientific process; the advent of a new malaise invariably involves social, economic and political processes that shape its epidemiology and sway our understanding and reaction.

Healthy Living

Simply put, healthy living is a completely balanced daily routine which you can undertake without fear of illness or symptoms of disease. This implies:

  • Sound sleep for around eight hours.
  • A proper unhurried breakfast.
  • A satisfactory day at work.
  • A light lunch preceded and followed by short tea or coffee breaks.
  • A social session of an hour or so, with a tot or two of mild alcohol. If you can avoid the alcohol, it would be beneficial, never mind the conjecture that a little red wine every day is good for you.
  • A filling dinner.

If there is a bout of viral fever going around, just take adequate precaution and if it still hits you, bad luck. There are so many kinds of viruses that you cannot really evade them-your immunity system should be able to handle them. This is an ongoing battle, as most viruses mutate to bypass your immunity system, and your immunity system gathers available inputs to combat such mutations. Interestingly, a ten second kiss can transfer up to eighty million bacteria!

If you were born a normal child, you are predestined for a normal healthy life. Ignorance about a few matters related to health does reduce your inner strength, but that ignorance is now becoming a short-lived flash in the pan. A happy and healthy existence is always within reach. Healthy living is a long-term commitment, not a ‘here today and gone tomorrow’ phenomenon. Nothing stops you from becoming a healthier person. There are steps you can take today that will make you healthier tomorrow than today and chalk the path for a healthier day after tomorrow, too. The physical aspects are easy to understand: workout every day, a slightly more brisk walk, dietary supplements, etc. But there is more to it, as we shall soon see, all pointing to the food you eat as the primary ingredient.

Circadian Cycles – Syncing with Earth Cycles

Circadian Rhythms, a term coined by French geophysicist and astronomer, Jean-Jacques d’Ortous de Mairan in 1719, supposedly imposes a 24-hour cycle on our bodies. Essentially, a body clock, the so called suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN), part of the hypothalamus in the brain, governs your life-cycle on a daily basis. There are three phases, all depending upon sunlight.

The first starts at dawn and lasts up to noon (eight hours); the second continues from noon up to dusk (eight hours) and the third takes up the remaining eight hours. The first is the preparatory phase, where the only meal is breakfast. The second is the active phase and includes both lunch and dinner, while the last is the recovery phase, where you sleep in peace and allow your body to digest all food consumed, ingesting the good properties while eliminating the bad.

While circadian rhythm disruption may be common among some, research conducted by Rush University Medical Center, Chicago suggests that it may be contributing to a host of diseases that may be prevented by regulating things such as sleep/wake patterns and times of eating to help prevent circadian rhythm disruption. Including prebiotics or probiotics, microorganisms (e.g., bacteria and fungi) that are host-friendly in the diet can also help normalize the effects of circadian rhythm disruption on the intestinal microbiota to reduce the presence of inflammation.

The importance of good and timely eating habits has been recorded thousands of years ago. Ayurvedic scholars and yogis knew the circadian rhythms long before de Mairan coined the term. The daily practices are the external observances ayurvedic practitioners engage in, in order to maintain the synchronicity of our circadian rhythms. As an ayurvedic practitioner, you follow cues observed in nature with your behavior, so that your circadian rhythm is in line with the earth’s rotation. Ayurveda has shown that when you are out of sync with this rhythm, disease and imbalance can develop, which is what we see or hear about every day.

The Ayurvedic theory divides your 24 hour circadian day into three cycles. Tanya Alekseeva, a Wellness Coach who specializes in Raw Food Nutrition and Detoxification options and the founder of Better Raw and Corporate Créme in London, explains these three segments:

  • Elimination (4 am-12 pm): Your digestive system never stops working. You can still eat or drink in this time. This is the period most important for cleansing and releasing toxins (‘Eliminating’), so you can make the correct food choices if you plan to eat. This is why professionals call breakfast ‘the most important meal of the day’, so you can make an informed decision on what’s light on digestion. From your side, give elimination a chance.
  • Appropriation (12 pm – 8 pm): During this period, we are most awake and active and busy digesting, metabolizing and burning most of our ingested food. This is why the majority of meals (lunch, dinner and snacks) also occur during this cycle. Remember, the older generations ate early, by today’s standards. Eat only when hungry and in small portions. This will give your body enough time and opportunities to break down the food with minimum effort, so it holds back some energy for everything else you need doing, not just spending it on digesting your food.
  • Assimilation (8 pm−4 am): At this time you are most likely to be relaxed or sleeping. This period is when all the ‘absorption of nutrients and minerals from your food occurs and is redirected to your organs, bones and cells via your blood. All the rebuilding, renewing and healing takes place now. It is prudent to eat dinner early, so that the food you eat is digested and moved out of the stomach, preparing in advance for this phase. Since all the benefit from the food you have eaten goes to strengthen you, the remains get ready for Elimination, starting the cycle afresh.

Start Your Healthy Living & Diet Regimen

1. Assess Yourself, Your Physical Condition, Your Social Life

The best person to help you assess yourself is your doctor. Get whichever test is required done and over with. Clarify all doubts with your doctor. Check your weight versus your BMI to see where you stand. Are you active enough? How much and what type of physical exercise are you averaging in a week? Do you find your physical activity boring or is it fun? Get in a good mix of aerobics and muscle-strengthening physical activities over a full week. This topic will be examined in great detail later in this guide.

Keep note of your food eaten. Be meticulous in your record maintenance. Don’t skip items that embarrass you. If you don’t know or acknowledge what you should be aware of, how can you change it? As stated earlier, healthy living takes account of emotional and mental wellness and includes adequate rest. What’s with your mood of late? Any tell tale warning signs of depression? Anxiety? Do you get eight hours sleep at night?

Now look at your social activity. How well connected are you with your with own family and circle of friends? Are you into group social or religious activity that you enjoy and find fulfilling or enriching your days? It is accepted that humans have an essential need for positive and long lasting relationships. If you are not happy with the overall results, try to assess where you stand today so that you can set your healthy living goals. Remember, it’s not about being “fine” or “awful, ” “correct” or “wrong”.

2. Treat Illnesses, Conditions if any

If you have persistent disabilities, be it heart disease, depression, diabetes, or any other ailment, the first priority is treatment, a no brainer for a healthy life. The same applies to risky behavior, like smoking, or self-abusive addictions of any kind. Unless you have the will power, you will need to look ahead with a trained person, i.e., your doctor. The sooner you start the better.

3. Increase Physical Activity

Kansas State University researchers found that office workers could be risking their health simply by sitting at their desk. People who spend more than four hours a day sitting down are at greater risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

Escalating physical activity is no mean achievement. It can be painful or painfully boring. So, add an element of fun. Go hiking, backpacking, treks with pals, cycling, take up belly-dancing or kung fu, or whatever gives you enjoyment. Keep note of it. Record all physical activity you undertook in a book. Set a weekly goal for activity. To build your confidence, make the first goal easy so you feel, “I can do that blindfolded.” Set week by week goals; if you miss out one day, weekly goals provide you enough flexibility to recover lost time.

Put activity into your day. “Ten percent of something is better than 100% of nothing. So even if you have 10 minutes, it’s better than zero minutes, “ says Kathianne Sellers Williams, MEd, RD, LD, a nutritionist and wellness coach. Walk around your office, take a 10-minute walk prior to lunch or just go up and down the stairs.

Wear a pedometer to check how many steps you take per day (10, 000 steps a day is what most experts recommend) or join up with a pal to chat through an ongoing exercise routine. If you want to know many calories you’re consuming, use an exercise-related calorie calculator.

4. Review Your Diet

Williams, a nutritionist for over a decade, says her advice on diet isn’t about what to eat and what not, but about awareness and choices. She suggests that you should stock your pantry with healthy food and take healthful snacks with you so you’re prepared when you get hungry. If you are a mother, follow the advice you gave your kids. Slow down and savor your food.

Eat a Mediterranean-style diet. This can cut heart attacks, strokes and death rates in people at high risk of heart disease by 33 percent, according to a Spanish study. Changing the balance of foods in a diet can lessen the risk even before heart-related illness strikes. Swedish researchers have agreed with the findings and calculated that the recommended regime could add an extra three years to your life. A Mediterranean-style diet is a rich source of chemicals called anti-oxidants that fight cancer, heart disease and can slow the ageing process. The diet is high in fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grain cereals and low in meat and dairy, which contain large amounts of saturated fats. Olive oil is used in place of butter in cooking, as well as for dressing salads and moistening bread. Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fat, which is considered a safeguard against heart disease.

Plan for five daily servings of varied fruits and vegetables. Get as many types of fruit and vegetable across the entire band of vivid colors to get a good mix of nutrients, so that your collection looks like the proverbial rainbow. And there is a pot of gold the other side, as you work and eat your way through your colorful collection.

The contrarian view: Eat throughout the day, a little at a time

Your body needs some foods to stay strong and healthy. As you work through the day, this food gives you the energy desired. Keep eating as you work for optimum gain.

  1. Eat 6-11 servings a day of breads or grains, like rice, pasta, tortillas, or cereal.
  2. Eat 3-5 servings a day of vegetables, like carrots, cabbage, tomatoes, broccoli, or peas.
  3. Eat 2-4 servings a day of fruits, like apples, peaches, mangos, bananas, or fruit juice.
  4. Eat 2-3 servings a day of meat, fish, beans, eggs or nuts, for protein.
  5. Eat 2-3 servings a day of dairy products like yogurt, cheese, or milk.
  6. Cut down on alcohol, fatty foods such as butter, grease and oil, and “junk food” like chips, French fries, etc.

If in about 15 hours, you have to eat the meals supra, you will be munching something throughout the day.

5. Manage Stress

Work on two different schemes to cope with stress:

  • Routine maintenance: Williams suggests you develop positive coping skills, such as meditation and visualization, and look for activities, such as yoga or exercise, to keep your baseline stress level in check.
  • Breakthrough stress: Find ways to handle stressful situations that flare up without warning. For instance, after a stressful meeting at work, walk up and down the stairs a few times to burn off anger (and calories), or get into a bathroom stall to take a few deep breaths and refocus or climb the stairs all the way up to the terrace and scream into the wind.
  • Many experts advise you to try this specific breathing exercise: count your breaths for a minute, and then try to cut that number of breaths in half for the next minute. Back to normal, repeat this exercise five times.
  • Another known remedy is to lie down, close your eyes, push your fingers into the socket above your eyes and apply gentle pressure on the top of your eyeballs. Hold for 10 seconds and release. Repeat five times whenever you lie down.
  • Inhale deeply through one nostril and exhale through the other in sets of five at least 50 times a day.

6. Sleep Better

If you have trouble sleeping, sleep medicine specialist Lisa Shives, MD, suggests:

  • Avoid watching TV or working on your computer starting two hours before bedtime. This is because of their light. “We’re very sensitive to the cue that light gives you that it’s time to be up and about, ” Shives says. She recommends light, calming reading lit by a lamp that doesn’t shine directly into your eyes.
  • Avoid heavy exercise close to bedtime. Vigorous activity heats up your body’s core temperature, which makes it harder to sleep.
  • Take a hot bath. It relaxes you mentally, but will heat up your core body temperature. When you get out of the bath, your core temperature will fall rapidly, which may help you get to sleep.
  • Don’t count on weekend catch-up sleep. If you have chronic sleep problems, you probably can’t make up for that on the weekends. But if you generally sleep well and have a rough week, go ahead and sleep in on the weekend.
  • Prioritize good sleep. This is as important as diet and exercise.

7. Quit Smoking

German researchers stated in November 2014 that giving up smoking even when middle aged or older is decidedly good for health. “It can never be too late to change. Making major changes like giving up smoking while refining your diet lowers the risk of heart disease and lung cancer, ” they said. Lifelong smokers eschewing smoking rather late in life achieved a huge 40% drop in the hazard of cardiac problems and stroke in only five years.

What Does a Healthy Balanced Diet Mean?

A healthy balanced diet means eating a wide variety of foods in the right proportions, and consuming the right amount of food and drink to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. The key to a healthy balanced diet is:

  • Eating the right amount of food for how active you are.
  • Eating a range of foods – this is what balanced means.

It is accepted that the quantity and type of food you eat has a pronounced influence on your health. For a given body structure and primary vocation, there is an optimum energy gradient and range of food that you need to eat. Your lifestyle will dictate the quantity of food best suited to the way you live. If you eat a well-balanced diet, it can reduce your risk of various diseases as well as help you to maintain a healthy weight. There are certain times in one’s life cycle when it becomes principally important to make sure that you follow a healthy diet, for instance, if you want to lose excess weight to drop down in a boxing weight scale, or if you’re careful about what you eat because you’re pregnant. However, what is most important is that you eat a healthy diet throughout your life, no matter what age you are, while gracefully accepting the changes demanded by age – there can never be a bad time to make gradual changes to improve your eating habits.

The range of foods in your diet should include:

  • Plenty of fruit and vegetables.
  • Plenty of bread, rice, potatoes, pasta and other starchy foods (choosing whole grain varieties when possible).
  • Some milk and dairy foods (choosing lower-fat varieties when possible).
  • Some meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein.
  • Just a small amount of foods high in fat and sugar.
Daily Amount of Food From Each Group
Calorie Level 1, 000 1, 200 1, 400 1, 600 1, 800 2, 000 2, 200 2, 400 2, 600 2, 800 3, 000 3, 200
Fruits 1 cup 1 cup 1, 5 cup 1, 5 cup 1, 5 cup 2 cups 2 cups 2 cups 2 cups 2, 5 cups 2, 5 cups 2, 5 cups
Vegetables 1 cup 1, 5 cup 1, 5 cup 2 cups 2, 5 cups 2, 5 cups 3 cups 3 cups 3, 5 cups 3, 5 cups 4 cups 4 cups
Grains 3 oz-eq 4 oz-eq 5 oz-eq 5 oz-eq 6 oz-eq 6 oz-eq 7 oz-eq 8 oz-eq 9 oz-eq 10 oz-eq 10 oz-eq 10 oz-eq
Meat and Beans 2 oz-eq 3 oz-eq 4 oz-eq 5 oz-eq 5 oz-eq 5, 5 oz-eq 6 oz-eq 6, 5 oz-eq 6, 5 oz-eq 7 oz-eq 7 oz-eq 7 oz-eq
Milk 2 cup 2 cup 2 cup 3 cup 3 cup 3 cups 3 cup 3 cup 3 cups 3 cup 3 cup 3 cups
Oils 3 tsp 4 tsp 4 tsp 5 tsp 5 tsp 6 tsp 6 tsp 7 tsp 8 tsp 8 tsp 10 tsp 11 tsp
Discretionary calorie allowance 165 171 171 132 195 267 290 362 410 426 512 648

Chart 3

Why is Healthy Eating Important?

It is proven that eating a healthy and wholesome diet reduces your risk of putting on weight to the point of obesity and concomitant illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, cerebral-vascular disorder (stroke), osteoporosis (a progressive bone disease characterized by a decrease in bone mass and density which can lead to an increased risk of fracture) and even some types of cancer. The food you eat comprises several different types of nutrients, all of which are essential for the many vital processes in progress within your body. Key nutrients in your diet include the following:

  • Carbohydrates that provide you with energy.
  • Proteins that not only provide you with energy but are also essential for the growth and repair of all tissues in your body.
  • Fats are a very concentrated source of energy and also have a number of other roles, including helping to transport essential vitamins around your body.
  • Vitamins and minerals that keep your body healthy and functional.
  • Another important element of your diet is fibre. Fibre isn’t classified as a nutrient, but it’s essential to keep your digestive system healthy and certain types of fibre can help to control your blood cholesterol levels.

Food Intake Patterns

Chart 4



The National Health Service in the UK has launched their food program called the 5-A-Day Plan. Their aim is to provide a ready reckoner to their people/everybody about what should eat and why.

They state that we should be eating at least five portions of a variety of fruit and veg daily.

5 A DAY tips: A few small changes can help you and your family get the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

Why 5 A DAY? Fruit and vegetables are part of a balanced diet and can help us stay healthy. That’s why it’s so important that we get enough of them. The 5 A DAY message highlights the health benefits of getting five 80 gm (3 oz) portions of fruit and vegetables every day. That’s five portions of fruit and vegetables in total, not five portions of each. 5 A DAY is based on advice from the World Health Organization, which recommends eating a minimum of 400 gm of fruit and vegetables a day to lower the risk of serious health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and obesity.

5 A DAY: what counts? Almost all fruit and vegetables count towards your 5 A DAY, including frozen, canned and dried varieties.

5 A DAY on a budget: A diet full of fruit and vegetables doesn’t have to be expensive. The link will take you to a site that will advise you how to get your 5 A DAY and save some money.

Plan your 5 A DAY: This meal planner makes it easy to get your 5 A DAY. It’s packed with tasty recipes and compiles your weekly shopping list for you.

5 A DAY and your family: Cooking for a family, including a fussy eater or two? These tips will help your kids get their 5 A DAY.

Tips for growing your own fruit and vegetables: Find out how growing your own fruit and veg can help you get your 5 A DAY, and get tips from other gardeners.

5 A DAY on the go: Juggling a hectic work schedule and a busy social life? Here are some easy ways to fit in 5 A DAY.

5 A DAY portion sizes: One 5 A DAY portion of fruit or vegetables is about 80 gm (3 oz) or around one handful.

5 A DAY recipes: Try the 5 A DAY fajita recipe and download a 5 A DAY recipe leaflet, plus more healthy recipes for you and your family.

5 A DAY FAQs: We answer some frequently asked questions about the 5 A DAY program.

5 A DAY school scheme: The 5 A DAY school fruit and vegetable scheme entitles all children aged four to six to a free piece of fruit or vegetable.

How to wash fruit and vegetables: How to store, wash and prepare fruit and vegetables to prevent food poisoning, including E. coli.

Hearty vegetable soup: Packed with tomatoes, celery, carrots and beans, this is a great option to include more vegetables in your diet.

Although calories are part of the metric system, the International System of Units (SI System) uses the joule. One small calorie is approximately 4.2 joules (so one large calorie is about 4.2 kilojoules). In many countries, such as the European Union, Australia and New Zealand, it has become standard practice to include energy data in food labels in joules (kilojoules) instead of kilocalories (calories). In the United States, most food labeling is done in calories.

This can be confusing and irritating if you live in a country where the food labeling is done in joules but all exercise programs, diet regimes and health topics regarding energy consumption talk in calories. Fortunately, most food labels in the European Union also add calorie-equivalent information. This paper will deal with calories in depth at a later stage.

The Foods We Eat: Food Groups

Now that we have seen the same viewpoint on either side of the Atlantic, we can go ahead and scrutinize each segment in detail. To recap, the five segments are: Grains, Vegetables, Fruits, Milk and Meat & Beans plus Oils.

Food Grains

Food Grains are small, hard, dry seeds, with or without attached hulls or fruit layers, harvested for human or animal consumption. The plants producing such seeds are called “grain crops”. The most common types of commercial grain crops are cereals such as wheat, rice and rye. All cereal crops are members of the grass family. Cereal grains contain a substantial amount of starch, a carbohydrate that provides dietary energy. Cereals are seasonal, either warm or cold season.

The warm season cereals are:

  • Maize (corn)
  • Fonio
  • Sorghum
  • Millets
  • finger millet
  • foxtail millet
  • Kodo millet
  • Japanese millet
  • pearl millet
  • proso millet

The cool-season cereals are:

  • Barley
  • Oats
  • Rice
  • Rye
  • Teff
  • Wheat

Of these, food is usually made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley and millets. ‘Whole grains’ include whole-wheat flour, bulgur (cracked wheat), oatmeal, whole cornmeal and brown rice.

“One of the reasons that grains have become such a central part of the human diet is that they have a long shelf-life. Unlike meat, dairy, and fresh produce, grains pack a whole lot of food energy (calories) into a small, lightweight package that can be stored indefinitely without refrigeration or other preservation, ” says Monica Reinagel, a renowned Nutrition Diva. “The primary nutritional advantage of whole grains is that the fiber from the bran slows down the speed at which the starches in the endosperm are converted into blood sugar, ” she adds.

Once harvested, dry grains are far more durable than other staple foods including starchy fruits like bananas & brinjals and tubers like sweet potatoes & cassava. Such innate durability has made grains well suited to industrial agriculture, since they can be mechanically harvested, transported across the globe, stored for long periods in environment controlled silos, milled for flour or pressed for oil.

Health Benefits of Grains

People who eat whole grains as part of a healthy diet have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases. Grains are important sources of many nutrients, including fiber, B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and folate) and minerals (iron, magnesium and selenium). Each has its own clearly demarcated function, as elucidated below.

Dietary fiber is generally the natural outer skin of whole grains, and, as part of an overall healthy diet, helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease. Fiber is important for healthy bowel function and helps reduce constipation. B vitamins help the body release energy from protein, fat and carbohydrates. Iron is used to carry oxygen in the blood. Magnesium is a mineral used in building bones and releasing energy from muscles. Selenium is important for a healthy immune system.

High-fiber foods such as whole grains help provide a feeling of fullness with fewer calories. Select whole grains to constitute at least half your daily meals; this may help maintain your weight. Integrate whole grains with other constituents into your healthy eating plan by adding a whole wheat toast to breakfast, a sandwich on whole-wheat bread at lunch or whole-wheat pasta with dinner. Apart from the basic benefits of grains, there is more to gain. They help you to maintain optimal health, a direct consequence of the phytochemicals contained – some of which are still waiting for certifiable identification.

100 to 300 gm of grains is recommended each day, depending on how many calories you need. About one-half of these should be whole grains. “Get a whole grain head start with oatmeal or whole grain cereal. Eat 100 percent whole-wheat bread or bagels instead of white bread or bagels. Use whole grains in mixed dishes such as barley in vegetable soup or stews, bulgur in casseroles or brown rice in stir fries, ” USDA advocates. Add the unusual but highly effective flaxseed grain for additional benefits. Try adding oatmeal as well. You can also experiment a bit, by changing it up. For instance, you can try making your sandwich on 100 percent whole-wheat or oatmeal bread. Try new varieties of snacks on popcorn or whole grain crackers.

What is Whole Grain? Why is it Important?

Whole Grains: A whole grain is a cereal grain that contains the nutrient-rich germ, the starchy endosperm and the fibrous bran. This is in contrast to refined grains, which retain only the endosperm.

Whole grains comprise grains such as wheat, rice, oats, corn, barley, quinoa, rye, sorghum, popcorn, spelt, etc. You could already be into whole grains without knowing so. When munching popcorn, or feeding your toddler Toasty-O’s, or relishing a plate of warm oatmeal, you’re likely taken up by its delicious taste rather than the simple fact that these foodstuffs are whole grains. This definition can be confusing at times.

Breads, cereals, pasta, and other foods are labeled whole grain, but they’re made with mashed whole grain, i.e., flour. Once you’ve ground a kernel of wheat or rice into powder, it’s no longer whole in the sense of a single palpable unit. Some theorists term unbroken grain such as whole oats, brown rice, bulgur wheat and quinoa ‘Intact Grain’. Intact grains are digested and absorbed more slowly than milled grains, which is a significant plus.

Antioxidants, minerals and vitamins: By now, we all know that vegetables, along with fruits include disease-fighting phytochemicals as well as antioxidants, but very few people know that whole grains could often be a better source of most of these major nutrients. Furthermore, whole grains contain important antioxidants that are not present in fruits and vegetables, apart from B vitamins, magnesium, iron, vitamin E and fiber.

Health Benefits of Whole Grains

Medical evidence has proved that whole grains cut down the risks of cardiac disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer, and obesity. Few foods offer such a diverse set of benefits. People who take whole grains on a regular basis have a lower threat of obesity, when admeasured by their individual body mass indices as well as waist-to-hip proportions. They also show lower levels of cholesterol.

Due to the health giving nature of phytochemicals and antioxidants, those who eat three servings of whole grains daily tend to show reduced hazards of heart disease by 25-36 percent, stroke 37 percent, Type II diabetes 21-27 percent, cancers of the digestive system 21-43 percent, and cancers that are hormone-related by 10-40 percent.

Health Benefits of Flaxseed

Flaxseeds have a warm, delicious nutty flavor that can complement and set off many foods like smoothies, roasted vegetables and baked goods. In size, flaxseeds are slightly bigger than sesame seeds and range in color from reddish brown to dark orange. Available in three forms, whole, crushed, and oil, flaxseeds are considered a super food because they are high in omega-3 fatty acids, soluble fiber and lignins, all of which have salutary health effects. It is also accepted now that eating two to four tablespoons of ground flaxseed per day leads to reductions in total and low density lipoprotein LDL (bad) cholesterol, especially for people afflicted with dyslipidemia and high cholesterol levels.

Lignins are a group of plant chemicals called polyphenols, which have antioxidant components. These antioxidants play a large part in its cardiovascular health benefits (lowering total and LDL cholesterol). Soluble fiber also is capable of reducing LDL cholesterol. Flaxseeds contain high levels of the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). ALA is an essential fatty acid because it cannot be synthesized in the body and must be obtained from the diet.

High intakes of ALA are associated with lower risk of coronary heart disease. Doctors recommend that men consume at least 1.6 grams/day and women 1.1 grams/day of ALA. Two tablespoons of ground flaxseed contains about 3 grams of ALA! Flaxseed oil has concentrated ALA but does not contain the lignins or soluble fiber of the seeds; it provides omega-3 fatty acids, but is not associated with lowering cholesterol. Since the nutrients in flaxseeds are more easily absorbed when the seeds are ground rather than whole, it’s best to eat fully ground flaxseeds to maximize health benefits.

Health Benefits of Oatmeal

Health benefits of oatmeal are generally known to most people, but in a sketchy fashion. What needs be remembered is that oatmeal:

  • Contains insoluble fibers which stay in the stomach longer and helps you feel full longer, thus preventing overeating, helping you in maintaining proper weight and shape, circumventing health problems related to being round and overweight. Just a half cup of oatmeal a day is enough to reap the many health benefits
  • Fiber adds bulk, increases the feeling of fullness and prevents constipation.
  • The soluble fiber in oatmeal reduces LDL cholesterol by 10-15 percent, particularly when consumed as part of a low-fat diet. It also reduces the danger of colon cancer.
  • The water soluble properties of oatmeal help control diabetes.
  • One cup of oatmeal contains about 150 calories, 4 gm of fiber (half soluble, half insoluble), plus 6 gm of protein. Apart from fiber, oatmeal provides thiamin, magnesium, zinc, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, and iron.

Starchy Foods

Polysaccharides are carbohydrate polymers consisting of thousands of monosaccharide units, all of which contain glucose. Plants store glucose as polysaccharide starch. Cereal grains (wheat, rice, corn, oats, barley) as well as tubers such as potatoes are rich in starch.

Since starchy foods are our main source of carbohydrate, they play an important role in a healthy diet. It must be reiterated that starchy foods such as potatoes, bread, cereals, rice and pasta should make up about a third of the food you eat. Whenever you can, choose wholegrain varieties, or eat potatoes with their skins on for more fiber. Starchy foods also contain fiber, calcium, iron and vitamin B.

Starchy foods and fiber: Wholegrain categories of starchy foods and potatoes – particularly when eaten with their skins on – are good sources of fiber. Fiber tends to prevent you from eating too much. Hence, wholegrain starchy foods and potatoes eaten with their skins make up a pretty good choice if you are on a diet and trying to shed weight.

Fibers are seen only in plant borne foods, and are of two families:

  • Insoluble fiber. This kind of fiber can’t be digested by the body, so it transits through the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, pulling and pushing other food and treated products along as they move through the GI tract easily. Whole-wheat pasta, wholegrain bread as well as breakfast cereals are good sources of this kind of fiber, as is brown rice.
  • Soluble fiber. This type of fiber cannot be digested in full and could well help cut down the quantity of cholesterol circulating in your blood. Some good sources are oats and pulses.
Tips on Starch-rich Foods
  • Whenever you select wholegrain varieties, you automatically augment the quantity of fiber you are planning to eat.
  • Porridge is just right as a warming winter breakfast.
  • Whole oats coupled with sliced fruit and yoghurt, not cream, make an ideal summer breakfast.
  • Always select wholegrain cereals or throw some in to augment your favorite cereal.
  • Focus on eating the rice or pasta and not so much the sauce.
  • Try different kinds of breads, like seeded, whole-meal and granary; cut the bread into thick slices.
  • Try brown rice for a rather tasty and inviting rice salad, apart from being a dish by itself.
  • For lunch, try a jacket potato; make sure to eat its skin for additional fiber.
  • If you’re on sausages with mash, eat more mash, more vegetables and clamp down on the number of würstchen you eat .
Types of Starchy Foods:

Potatoes: Starchy food can be found in good measure in Potatoes, which are also a great fount of energy, B vitamins, potassium and fiber. You get most of your vitamin C from potatoes; this is because, although there is only about 11–16 mg of vitamin C per 100 gm of potatoes, you generally help yourself to them liberally. They’re very cost effective and can definitely be a healthful menu option.

Potatoes are a healthy meal when boiled, roasted, baked (jacket potatoes) or mashed with only a little bit of fat and without too much salt added. French fries or other types of chips cooked in fat and served along with salt do not make for healthy food and is the least desirable option. The potato is a known root vegetable and it is mostly eaten as the starchy food section of a meal. To cook potatoes, use polyunsaturated spreads; otherwise switch to totally unsaturated oils like olive/ sunflower oil, rather than butter or lard.

Leave potato skins on when possible, to retain most of the fiber and vitamins. For instance, eat the skin when having a boiled or jacketed potato. It’s easy; try it once and you’ll find that next time, it just slips through. As a rule, only use enough water to cover the top of the potatoes if you’re boiling them, and only boil them for the correct length of time. Always use fresh potatoes, not ones that are raw and green or are sprouting.

Rice and Grains

Rice and grains are a great choice in starchy food. All of them give you energy, have little fat and provide great value for money spent. There are a number of types to select from:

  • Couscous.
  • Bulgur wheat.
  • All kinds of rice, such as quick-cook, long grain, brown, basmati, short grain, parboiled and wild.

Apart from carbohydrates, rice− as well as grains− contains:

  • Protein, which the body requires to grow while also repairing itself.
  • Fiber, which helps the body discard or excrete waste products.
  • B vitamins, which assist in releasing the energy stored in the food eaten, and aid the body in tuning itself to work properly.
  • Rice and grains, like bulgur wheat as well as couscous can be had both hot and cold and also in salads.
  • There are a few safety measures that you must take if storing or reheating once-cooked rice or grains against food poisoning bugs that are known to survive cooking. Chances of food poisoning are present, even if negligible.
  • If cooked rice or grains are left at room temperature (>20°C) for more than four hours, poisonous spores can form. The bacteria thus generated multiply rapidly and may produce toxins which can cause nausea and diarrhea. Reheating food does not kill off toxins. Always serve rice or grains soon after they’re cooked.
  • Dump rice and grains left unrefrigerated overnight.
  • Put cooked rice and grains in the refrigerator and eat within 48 hours. Reheat rice and grains only once. Discard any remainders.
  • Follow the “use by” date and instructions on the label for storage of any cold rice or grain salads that you buy.


  • Bread –especially wholemeal, brown, seeded varieties and granary− is a healthy choice to eat as part of a balanced diet.
  • Wholegrain, wholemeal and brown breads give us energy and contain B vitamins, vitamin E, fiber and a wide range of minerals. White bread also contains a range of vitamins and minerals, but it has less fiber than wholegrain, wholemeal or brown breads. Always prefer brown bread to white.
  • Some people avoid bread because they think they’re allergic to wheat, or because they think bread is fattening. If it does cause an allergic reaction, tough luck; leave it out of your diet. Avoiding any type of food in totality might be bad for health, since you could forfeit a full range of nutrients needed to stay healthy.
  • Bread can be stored at room temperature. Follow the “best before” date to make sure you eat it fresh. It can also be stored in the side trays in your fridge.


  • Pasta is a great healthy choice as the base of your meal. Its dough is a mix of durum wheat with water, contains vitamin B as well as iron and a minor quantity of sodium. Go for the whole wheat /wholegrain varieties as a preference over ordinary pasta since they hold more fiber. Moreover, wholegrain foods are digest slowly, making us feel a full stomach longer. Moreover, it is easy to cook.
  • Store dried pasta in a cupboard; it has a typically long shelf life; fresh pasta, which has a shorter lifespan, will need refrigerating. As always, check the food packaging for “best before” or “use by” dates and further storage instructions.

Cereal products

  • Cereal products are made from grains. Wholegrain cereals are a good choice as they contribute their mite to our daily needs of iron, protein, vitamins as well as fiber. They are programmed to release energy slowly and gradually, through the entire day.
  • Wheat, oats, barley, rye and rice are commonly available cereals that can be eaten as whole-grains. This means cereal products consisting of oats and oatmeal, like porridge, and whole-wheat products are healthy breakfast options.
  • Barley, corn, quinoa, couscous and tapioca are also healthful cereal products.
  • Many cereal products are refined, with minimal wholegrain content. They may have high quanta of salt/sugar. When buying cereals, always check the stamped food labels and compare their individual nutrition levels. Stay in the medium range.
  • Once again, check the food packaging for “best before” or “use by” dates and for storage instructions.

How Many Grain Foods Are Needed Daily?

Daily Recommendation Daily minimum amount of whole grains
Children 2-3 years old 3 ounce equivalent 1 ½ ounce equivalent
4-8 years old 5 ounce equivalents 2 ½ ounce equivalents
Girls 9-13 years old 5 ounce equivalent 3 ounce equivalent
14-18 years old 6 ounce equivalents 3 ounce equivalent
Boys 9-13 years old 6 ounce equivalent 3 ounce equivalent
14-18 years old 8 ounce equivalents 4 ounce equivalent
Women 19-30 years old 6 ounce equivalent 3 ounce equivalent
31-50 years old 6 ounce equivalents 3 ounce equivalent
51+ years old 5 ounce equivalents 3 ounce equivalent
Men 19-30 years old 8 ounce equivalent 4 ounce equivalent
31-50 years old 7 ounce equivalents 3 ½ ounce equivalents
51+ years old 6 ounce equivalents 3 ounce equivalent

Chart 5

What Counts as an Ounce Equivalent of Grains?

Amount that counts as 1 ounce equivalent of grains Common portions and ounce equivalents
Bagels WG*: whole wheatRG*: plain, egg 1 “mini” bagel 1 large bagel = 4 ounce equivalents
Biscuits (baking powder/ buttermilk—RG*) 1 small (2″ diameter) 1 large (3″ diameter) = 2 ounce equivalents
Breads WG*: 100% Whole wheatRG*: white, wheat, French, sourdough 1 regular slice1 small slice French4 snack-size slices rye bread 2 regular slices = 2 ounce equivalents
Bulgur cracked wheat (WG*) ½ cup cooked
Cornbread (RG*) 1 small piece (2 ½” x 1 ¼” x 1 ¼”) 1 medium piece (2 ½” x 2 ½” x 1 ¼”) = 2 ounce equivalents
Crackers WG*: 100% whole wheat, rye 5 whole wheat crackers2 rye crispbreads
RG*: saltines, snack crackers 7 square or round crackers
English muffins WG*: whole wheatRG*: plain, raisin ½ muffin 1 muffin = 2 ounce equivalents
Muffins WG*: whole wheatRG*: bran, corn, plain 1 small (2 ½” diameter) 1 large (3 ½” diameter) = 3 ounce equivalents
Oatmeal (WG) ½ cup cooked1 packet instant1 ounce (1/3 cup) dry (regular or quick)
Pancakes WG*: Whole wheat, buckwheatRG*: buttermilk, plain 1 pancake (4 ½” diameter)2 small pancakes (3″ diameter) 3 pancakes (4 ½” diameter) = 3 ounce equivalents
Popcorn (WG*) 3 cups, popped 1 mini microwave bag or 100-calorie bag, popped =2 ounce equivalents
Ready-to-eat breakfast cereal WG*: toasted oat, whole wheat flakesRG*: corn flakes, puffed rice 1 cup flakes or rounds1 ¼ cup puffed
Rice WG*: brown, wildRG*: enriched, white, polished ½ cup cooked1 ounce dry 1 cup cooked = 2 ounce equivalents
Pasta–spaghetti, macaroni, noodles WG*: whole wheatRG*: enriched, durum ½ cup cooked1 ounce dry 1 cup cooked = 2 ounce equivalents
Tortillas WG*: whole wheat, whole grain cornRG*: Flour, corn 1 small flour tortilla (6″ diameter)1 corn tortilla (6″ diameter) 1 large tortilla (12″ diameter) = 4 ounce equivalents

Chart 6


In culinary terms, a vegetable is an edible plant or its part, intended for cooking or eating raw. The standard definition of vegetables is arbitrary, based both on culinary as well as historical or cultural tradition. There are other types of plant food like fruits, nuts and even grains. Vegetables are by and large eaten as cooked complementary savory or salty meals and quite often as salads. What is considered a meal to be cooked could be the basis of a salad in another part of the globe, which is why the present division is somewhat arbitrary, based perhaps on cultural dogma. Mushrooms are not plants, biologically speaking. But many people think of them as vegetables, while other people put them into a separate food group. Some cultures label potatoes as cereal products and club them with noodles and rice, whereas the western world calls them vegetables.

Many vegetables may be eaten raw, while others, like cassava have to be cooked to remove natural innate toxins and microbes to make them edible. Quite a few items of processed food in the market include vegetable ingredients; they are usually referred to as “vegetable derived” foodstuff, even if they may not provide the nutritional value of the basic vegetable used to make them.

Many items that are usually called “vegetables” — like eggplants and tomatoes — are actually botanical fruits, while certain cereals like buckwheat are both a fruit and a vegetable.

Vegetable Groups

Any vegetable or 100 percent vegetable juice counts as a member of a vegetable group. Vegetables may be raw or cooked; fresh, frozen, canned, dried or dehydrated; they may be whole, cut-up, or mashed. Vegetables are categorized into five subgroups, on the basis of their nutrient content, color or properties. The most common subgroups are:

  • Dark green vegetables:
  • Orange vegetables:
  • Dry beans and peas:
  • Starchy vegetables:
  • Other vegetables:

Types of Vegetables

Dark green vegetables Orange vegetables Dry beans and peas Other Vegetables
broccolicollard greensdark green-leafy lettuce


mustard greens

romaine lettuce


turnip greens



acorn squashbutternut squashcarrots

hubbard squash


sweet potatoes

Starchy vegetables


green peas

lima beans


black beansblack-eyed peaschickpeas

kidney beans


lima beans (mature)

navy beans

pinto beans

soy beans

split peas

white beans

artichokesasparagusbean sprouts


Brussels sprouts





green beans

green peppers





wax beans



iceberg (head) lettuce

red peppers

Chart 7

How Many Vegetables Should be Eaten Daily or Weekly?

Select your vegetable choices from the subgroups of vegetables listed above. You need not eat vegetables listed in each subgroup every day. Balance your intake from all subgroups across a week to reach the quantity recommended as your intake every day as a whole. The amount of vegetables to be eaten is a function of your age, physical activity and gender. Recommended total daily amounts are shown in Chart 6. Recommended weekly amounts from each vegetable subgroup are shown in Chart 7.

Children 2-3 years old4-8 years old 1 cup#1.5 cups
Girls 9-13 years old14-18 years old 2 cups2.5 cups
Boys 9-13 years old14-18 years old 2.5 cups3 cups
Women 19-30 years old31-50 years old>51 years old 2.5 cups2.5 cups2 cups
Men 19-30 years old31-50 years old>51 years old 3 cups3 cups2.5 cups

Chart 8

* For 30 minutes of moderate physical activity, over and above normal daily activities.

# The equivalent of one cup.

The Importance of Eating Vegetables

Eating vegetables is important because of the health benefits they provide — Those who eat a larger share of vegetables and fruits in a planned comprehensive healthy diet tend to be less prone to the menace of certain chronic diseases. Eating vegetables supply nutrients essential for good health as well as safeguarding your body.

Dark Green Vegetables Orange Vegetables Dry Beans and Peas Starchy Vegetables Other Vegetables
Children 2-3 years old4-8 years old 1 cup1.5 cups 0.5 cup1 cup 0.5 cup1 cup 1.5 cups2.5 cups 4 cups4.5 cups
Girls 9-13 years old14-18 years old 2 cups3 cups 1.5 cups2 cups 2.5 cups3 cups 2.5 cups3 cups 5.5 cups6.5 cups
Boys 9-13 years old14-18 years old 3 cups3 cups 2 cups2 cups 3 cups3 cups 3 cups6 cups 6.5 cups7 cups
Women 19-30 years old31-50 years old>51 years old 3 cups3 cups2 cups 2 cups2 cups1.5 cups 3 cups3 cups2.5 cups 3 cups3 cups2.5 cups 6.5 cups6.5 cups5.5 cups
Men 19-30 years old31-50 years old>51 years old 3 cups3 cups3 cups 2 cups2 cups2 cups 3 cups3 cups3 cups 6 cups6 cups3 cups 7 cups7 cups6.5 cups

Chart 9


Health benefits: Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables as part of a diet charted for overall good health may reduce risks for the following:

  • Stroke and perhaps other cardiovascular diseases.
  • Type 2 diabetes.
  • Certain cancers, like mouth, stomach, rectum and colon.
  • Coronary heart disease.
  • Developing kidney stones while also helping to diminish bone loss.

Eating foods like vegetables that are low in calories per cup may help lowering calorie intake. They help in avoiding heart disease, cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Vegetable Nutrients

  • Most vegetables are intrinsically low in fat and calories and do not have cholesterol. Sauces or tasteful seasoning may well add fat, some calories, or LDL cholesterol.
  • Vegetables are important sources of many nutrients, including potassium, dietary fiber, folate (folic acid), vitamin A, vitamin E, and vitamin C.
  • Potassium rich diets help to sustain healthy values of blood pressure. Potassium is found in sweet potatoes, white beans, white potatoes, tomato products like paste, ketchup and juice, soybeans, lima beans, beet greens, split peas, winter squash, lentils, spinach and kidney beans.

In your healthful diet, dietary fiber from vegetables aids in reducing LDL cholesterol levels, thereby lowering the risk of cardiac disease. Fiber is central for healthy bowel function, by reducing constipation as well as diverticulosis. Fiber-containing foods like vegetables generate a feeling of a full stomach using far less energy.

Folate (folic acid) aids the body in forming red blood cells. Pregnant women, especially those in the first three months of pregnancy should ensure proper intake of folate, which includes folic acid from supplements and fortified foods. This reduces all types of risks for both the mother-to-be and the fetus.

Vitamin A keeps eyes and skin healthy, while protecting them against infection, while Vitamin E helps to protect vitamin A and necessary fatty acids from oxidation. Vitamin C aids in healing cuts, shallow wounds and keeps your teeth as well as gums healthy and also assists in the complete absorption of iron. Options such as broccoli, tomatoes, garlic and spinach provide additional benefits, adding to their overall potency.

Health Benefits of Garlic

A fairly pungent member from the lily genus, garlic not only flavors your favorite dishes, it also reduces the danger of your falling prey to heart disease. Studies show that garlic:

  • Can reduce blood pressure in people with hypertension.
  • Consuming about 0.5 to one clove of garlic daily may decrease total cholesterol.
  • Garlic lowers triglycerides, albeit modestly.
  • Garlic might help prevent blood clots forming in your arteries, thereby reducing the hazard of a heart attack.
  • Garlic consumption is also associated with reduced threats of certain types of cancer.

Garlic generates these healthful effects through its phytonutrients, which are plant chemicals containing protective and disease-thwarting compounds. These same compounds are potent antioxidants which scavenge destructive free radicals that infest the body.

Health Benefits of Tomatoes

Tomatoes are fruits, botanically. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that tomatoes were vegetables in 1893. They are full of lycopene, which is a red color and phytonutrient also found in other red fruits like watermelon, pink guava, papaya and pink grapefruit. Besides making tomatoes red, lycopene protects the tomato plant from disproportionate light damage. Lycopene is also today’s most powerful antioxidant.

High ingestion of lycopene could protect against cancer and heart disease, as it is a strong antioxidant which eliminates destructive free radicals within the body, apart from catalyzing production of your body’s own antioxidant enzymes. Lycopene helps prevent prostate cancer in males. It also reduces damage due to atherosclerosis and the peril of a heart attack. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests that “eating one-half to one cup of tomatoes and/or tomato sauce a week may reduce the risk of prostate cancer.”

Tomato Trivia:

  • Tomatoes can be many other colors besides red, including yellow, orange, green and purple.
  • Although they look quite different from the standard red tomatoes in the supermarket, people often say their taste is far superior.
  • Tomato sauce and ketchup have higher lycopene contents than raw tomatoes.
  • Lycopene must be eaten with 3-5 grams of fat to be absorbed in the GI tract.


In botany, a fruit is a part of a flowering plant that derives from specific tissues of the flower, one or more ovaries, and in some cases accessory tissues. This definition includes certain edible structures that are not commonly called “fruits”, such as bean pods, corn kernels, wheat grains, tomatoes, cucurbits (squash, pumpkin, and cucumber), peas, allspice, chilies, eggplant and sweet pepper. In colloquial language, “fruit” normally means the fleshy and seedy structures of a plant that are sweet or sour and edible raw, such as apples, oranges, strawberries, bananas, grapes and lemons.

Fruits are the means by which these flowering plants distribute seeds. Many of them that bear edible fruits in particular, have moved along with the mass migration of humans as well as animals in an intertwined relationship leading to seed scattering and nutrition; today, humans and many animals have become dependent on fruits as a source of food. Fruits account for a substantial fraction of the world’s agricultural output, and some (such as the plantain, apple and the pomegranate) have cultural, religious and symbolic meanings. In some ways, the British populace, mainly their military and civil forces that looked after their vast empire are credited with the migration of fruits. The Mayflower carried many types of seeds across the Atlantic and hybrids soon appeared on what was then Native American soil.

The best reasons for eating fruit are:

  • Fruit is an ‘Upper’; as a rejuvenator, it tends to improve your mood, making you feel better.
  • Fruit is an absolutely natural food and the mainstay of the non-carnivorous animal kingdom as well as that of most birds.
  • Most fruits consist mainly of water, which is why it is most suited to humans, whose bodies are almost 70 percent water.
  • Fruit is a brain fuel and revitalizes memories.
  • Fruit has healing effects that are close to magical.
  • Fruits have plenty of fibers, which are excellent for digestion and fecal excretion.
  • Fruit doesn’t have to be slaughtered prior to cooking and eating; it is an ethical food.
  • Fruit is 100 percent LDL Cholesterol free.
  • The human diet can consist of a lot of fruit as a major constituent of every meal, apart from eating it by itself any time of the day. Try and have five pieces of fruit a day.

The Importance of Eating Fruit

Eating fruit gives you many health benefits and provides key nutrients. Fruits are vital for reasons of health as well as corporeal maintenance of your body.

Health Benefits of Fruits

  • Reduce the hazard of cardiac disease, including a heart attack as well as a stroke.
  • Provide protection against some categories of cancer.
  • Provide generous amounts of fiber, diminishing the menace of corpulence, apart from Type II diabetes.
  • Eating a fruit- rich diet provides potassium, which may reduce blood pressure, the menace of developing stones in your kidney, while helping to reduce bone loss.
  • Eating fruits that have negligible calories per gm than most other foods will help in cutting down calorie intake.

Fruits Nutrients

  • Fruits are by nature, low in fat, salt, sodium as well as calories, while none of them have cholesterol.
  • Fruits are a reservoir of very many indispensable nutrients that are usually under-eaten, including potassium, vitamin C and dietary fiber, besides folate (folic acid).
  • Potassium-rich diets help maintain a sound blood pressure. Fruits that contain potassium include bananas, dried peaches prunes or prune juice, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, apricots and oranges (orange juice).

Fruits provide dietary fiber which helps lower LDL cholesterol levels thus lowering the hazard of cardiac disease. Fiber helps proper bowel movement, reducing constipation as well as diverticulosis. The fiber in fruits aid in providing the feeling of a full stomach, with less calories ingested. Remember that it is the whole or sliced fruits that provide dietary fiber; there is little or no fiber in fruit juices.

Fruit Trivia

A strawberry is not an actual berry, but a banana is. In fact, the banana is a herb.

Apples float in water because they are 25% air.

Dark green vegetables include more vitamin C than light green color vegetables.

Bilberries are chock full of Vitamin A and are eaten to help improve night vision.

Mangoes are the no 1 fruit in the world.

Kiwis contains twice as much Vitamin C as oranges.

Eating more fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk miscarriage by almost half.

Watermelon contains 92 percent water, cabbage 90 and carrots 87 percent.

Jackfruit is the world’s largest fruit followed by the Coco de Mer palm fruit

Jackfruit is rich in potassium, calcium, and iron, and more nutritious than current starchy staples.

Avocados are the world’s most nutritious fruit.

Babaco, a torpedo shaped fruit, is also named as champagne fruit since it has fizzy flesh.

Eating an apple is a more reliable method of staying awake than consuming a cup of coffee.

Currant juice can be used to soothe sore throats and colds.

The jambul fruit leaves and bark are used for controlling blood pressure and gingivitis.

Lychees are delicious fleshy fruits but its seeds are poisonous and should not be eaten.

A cucumber is a fruit not a vegetable.

Strawberries and cashews are the only fruits that have their seeds on the outside.

Dry fruits contain more calories than fresh fruits per gram, as the drying process shrinks it.

In the U.S., the apples sold at stores can be up to a year old.

Grapes explode when you put them in the microwave.

Apples, peaches and raspberries are all members of the rose family.

Coffee beans aren’t beans. They are fruit pits.

Drinking grapefruit while taking medication can cause instant overdose and death.

Square Watermelons are grown by Japanese farmers for easier stacking and storage.

The Fruit Salad Tree sprouts 3 to 7 different fruits on the same tree.

The Concord grape is red in color.

Apricots are native to China.

The apple came from Afghanistan.

  • Folate aids the body in forming red blood corpuscles. Pregnant women should eat foods that provide adequate folate to supplement prescribed folic acid. This decreases the grave risk of fetal damage.
  • Vitamin C, found in all fruits, helps grow and restore body tissues, besides helping cuts and superficial wounds to heal while keeping your teeth and gums sound and healthy.

Fruits in Your Diet

Partaking of fruit is, without doubt key to our general health and soundness. Fruit is a healthy food, as we know, but eating fruit should general follow some guidelines for optimum benefit for our health. While you may put it into your mouth whenever you feel like, try and learn the best way of eating it and your body will reward you with minimum digestive problems apart from heaps of energy.

Integrating fruit into your diet in the best manner gives your digestive system far more potent benefits via vitamin intake as well as enhanced digestion. We’ve seen that most fruits can be considered as a great font of fiber, vitamin C, folate, potassium, etc. Their nutrients aid in preventing disease, reducing rates of cardiac problems, hypertension and strokes. Eating fruit aimlessly with zero nutritional information could well be wasteful.

The primary rule regarding eating fruit is: “Fruit should be eaten alone or with other fruit on an empty stomach.”

There is a reason to this rule. As and when you consume fruit, the digestive system works swiftly and your body uses various enzymes to help digest it. The sugars in the fruit have to be absorbed by the body and this needs time. When only fruits are consumed, your GI tract processes all nutrients, fibers and sugars in that fruit. This method gives you the best output from the fruit consumed. If you have a fruit just before a meal, you will not do justice to that meal. If eaten after dessert, particularly after a heavy meal, it’s held up in the belly for too long, alongside other foods; it will then decay and agitate in the stomach. This contributes to indigestion and heartburn, two types of digestive discomfort. You are creating health problems for yourself, stemming from the GI tract.

Application of this one rule is easy. We usually eat three large meals per day; space out these fruit intakes in between. Glance at your clock if you have to. Try to eat it an hour in advance of a meal when possible, or two hours post your meal. If your meal is heavy, like burgers or fried chicken with chips, let that meal digest for three-four hours and then add the fruit to what’s in your stomach. After a light salad as your lunch, wait for an hour and a half.

The ideal time for a bunch of fruit is either the first thing early morning when the stomach is empty, or mid-morning as a snack. Try and eat more fruit at any one time, a fruit salad, smoothie or an apple. Three-four such servings are a daily requirement (2 – 2.5 cups). If you still feel hungry after this fruit serving, check out your breakfast and adjust your meal plans. You should usually manage one-two hours with ease. If not, get yourself checked for worms!

Do not eat fruit around bed time as the sugar in the fruit will likely keep you awake when you want to sleep. The same advice holds good for dried fruit. Its fine to drink coconut milk along with a fruit in small measures only, and that too, sporadically.

If you eat your fruit as advised, you will maximize the nutrients that particular fruit – Mother Nature’s gift – offers your wellbeing and fitness. You will not suffer digestive problems, but feel strong and energetic, foster shedding weight, look great and feel great because you are treating your body right, absorbing all of the good things needed to display good health and your body is responding as it should.

Using the definition of fruit as “Any sweet, edible part of a plant that resembles fruit, even if it does not develop from a floral ovary; also used in a technically imprecise sense for some sweet or sweetish vegetables, some of which may resemble a true fruit or are used in cookery as if they were a fruit, for example rhubarb, ” the number of fruits run into the thousands, some of which most of us would never have heard of, leave alone seen or eaten.

Categories of Some Popular Fruits

Acidic Fruit
Oranges – Pineapples – Sour Apples – Sour Plums – Lemons – Grapefruits – Sour Peaches – Limes – Tangerines – Sour Grapes – Tomatoes
Low-acid Fruit
Apricots – Blueberries – Huckleberries – Strawberries – Nectarines – Raspberries – Blackberries – Gooseberries -Mangos – Elderberries – Olives – Fresh Figs – Sweet Apples – Cherries- Sweet Peaches – Sweet Plums – Persimmons
Sweet Fruit
Dates – Sweet Grapes – Pears – Prunes – Raisins – Dried Figs-Mangos-Bananas-Peaches-Plums-Sapodilla
Watermelons – Cantaloupes – Honey Dew – Galia
Starchy Fruit
Bananas – Peanuts – Pumpkins – Winter Squashes
Non-starchy Fruit
Cucumber – Sweet Pepper – Zucchini – Egg Plant – Yellow Squash
Protein containing Fruit
Olives – Avocados
Blackcurrant, Redcurrant, Gooseberry, Tomato, Eggplant, Guava, Pomegranate, Kiwifruit, Cranberry, Blueberry, Strawberry

Chart 10

How Much Fruit to Eat Per Day? And Which Type?

Fruits have indispensable fiber, vitamins, starch and minerals working overtime to safeguard you from a clutch of chronic diseases while maintaining your digestive strength. So how many fruits do you need each day for best health? The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now offer guidelines in cups as measures. In general, one cup of fruit or 100 percent fruit juice, or half a cup of dried fruit can be considered as 1 cup from the Fruit Group. Specific amounts equivalent to one cup of fruit (in some cases half a cup) towards your daily recommended intake are listed by CDC.

Girls and Women
9 to 18 1.5 cups
19 through 30 2 cups
30 and over 1.5 cups
Boys and Men
9 to 13 1.5 cups
18 and over 2 cups

Chart 11

If you’re active for more than 30 minutes each day, you may need to eat more fruits and vegetables than indicated here and in charts 6 & 7, since you’ll be using up more energy. CDC has a fruits and vegetables calculator providing suitable recommendations based on your needs in respect of physical activity.

As stated earlier, when buying fruits and vegetables, pick yourself a rainbow. “Choosing a rainbow of colors helps to guarantee that you get various types of nutrients, since the various nutrients are what impart color to the fruits and veggies, ” explains Susan Kraus, MS, RD, a registered dietitian. She provides a colorful example: “Eating green broccoli and grapes, yellow squash and pineapple, orange carrots and cantaloupe, red apples and strawberries, purple plums and eggplant, black or dark blue grapes and blueberries will get you the widest range of nutrients plus both soluble and insoluble fiber for better digestive health.”

She also offers some interesting tips:

  • Eat fiber-filled fruit with breakfast.
  • Make your own yoghurt toppers. Top low-fat or fat-free yoghurt with fresh berries and low-fat or fat-free granola for breakfast.
  • Dish up the dried fruit. Pack some dried fruit to eat on the run, perhaps mixed with a handful of seeds or nuts. Remember that 1/4 cup of dried fruit equals 1/2 cup of fresh fruit.
  • In a pinch, frozen is fine.

Proteins: Meat

Proteins are made up of large biological molecules (macromolecules) which are vital nourishing elements for the human body. They form a major building block of body tissue, and can also serve as a source of fuel. As fuel, proteins, like carbohydrates, contain 4 cal per gram, unlike lipids, which contain 9 cal per gram. Proteins perform a vast array of functions within the human body, like catalyzing metabolic reactions, responding to various stimuli, replicating DNA and carrying molecules from any location to a different site.

From a nutritional perspective, the principal aspect and salient characteristic of protein is how its amino acid is composed. Proteins comprise a single or multiple lengthy chains of amino acid residues. They differ from each other mainly in their string of amino acids, a genetically dictated characteristic usually resulting in the molding of the protein into an explicit 3-D structure that decides its activity. Proteins are thus polymer chains of amino acids bonded by peptides. During digestion, these proteins are fractured in the gut to small polypeptide chains by stomach acids.

Amino acids help to sustain cell growth as well as restoration. They take more time to digest vis-a-vis carbohydrates, helping your stomach to feel fuller for a longer period and on less calories—this is a plus point for those trying to shed weight. Some sources of protein contain amino acids that are more or less structurally complete, requiring no further synthesis.

There are a total of nine indispensable amino acids that humans must extract from their food to preclude malnutrition caused by protein-energy deficiency; likewise, there are over a dozen amino acids required by the human body to prevent catabolic distress. The vital amino acids are required in defined ratios. Animal sources of protein include dairy products, meats, fish and eggs. Unfortunately, these sources have high saturated fat and LDL cholesterol content. Vegetarian sources include pulses, legumes, whole grains, soy, nuts, beans and quinoa. Vegetarians and vegans get enough essential amino acids by eating a variety of plant proteins. Highly physically active people like athletes need a much higher level of protein to sustain optimum physical performance.

Non-vegetarian protein intake: Protein intake from the animal world should be from lean options. As the rule goes, with protein, go lean.

  • Lean Beef: Lean meats are meats containing less than three gm of fat per oz.
  • The leanest in beef cuts are round steaks/roasts (top round, round tip, bottom round, round eye), top sirloin, chuck shoulder, top loin as well as arm roasts.
  • Look for beef with USDA “Select” or “Choice” grading rather than “Prime, ” which usually has more fat.
  • Lean Pork: The leanest in pork choices are ham, tenderloin, center loin and pork loin.
  • Ground Beef: Go for extra lean ground beef. Read the label on the can; it should specify 90 percent lean at the very least. You might locate 93 or 95 percent lean ground beef.
  • Look for poultry with USDA Select grading of A and B.
  • While many grocery stores carry both ground chicken and ground turkey, they may contain as much fat as ground beef because they often include dark meat and skin. For lower fat, choose ground breast meat or look for low-fat ground chicken or turkey.
  • When ordering lean meat in restaurants make sure that it has been prepared with either dry or moist heat methods; poached, steamed, grilled, baked or broiled are preferred.
  • Chicken: Buy skinless portions of chicken, or skin them prior to cooking.
  • Choose lean meat up to 3 times per week rather than daily.
  • To reduce saturated fat and calorie intake, avoid meat that has been battered and fried, slathered in butter, or blanketed in creamy sauces.
  • Experiment with leaner cuts of meat in your favorite recipes to replace higher fat choices
  • Use lean meat to flavor meals rather than as the main focus.
  • Be mindful of portion size for all meats – a 2-3 oz serving of lean meat is approximately the size of a deck of cards.
  • To reduce the amount of meat in a recipe, replace half with beans, mushrooms, vegetables, or whole soy products.
  • Choose animal products that are labeled “organic, ” “hormone-free, ” “antibiotic-free, ” “free-range, ” “grass-fed, ” and / or “wild” whenever possible.
  • Buy local – local meat is often available at farmer’s markets and family-owned grocery stores where you can ask questions and find out how the animals were raised.
  • Consider organic, free-range, and grass-fed lean meat products because the animals are raised in more natural conditions and may be more nutritious than meat from conventionally raised animals.
  • Boneless Poultry: Skinned chicken breasts along with cutlets of turkey give you the leanest in poultry.
  • Lean Lamb: The leanest lamb choices are chops, leg roast and tenderloin shank.
  • Sandwiches: Use lean turkey, ham, low-fat luncheon meats or roast beef, for sandwiches in place of fatty luncheon meats like bologna and salami.

How to Keep Your Meats Lean

  • Snip off all fat that is visible from non-vegetarian stuff prior to cooking.
  • Broil, roast, poach, grill or go for boiling meat, fish or poultry, rather than frying.
  • Drain away fat that oozes out during cooking.
  • Limit your breading on non-vegetarian stuff, since breading will add fat & calories.
  • Breading also makes the food absorb more than normal fat while frying.
  • Cook foods sans high fat gravies and sauces.

Vary Protein Options

  • Eat more fish as main meals, i.e., lunch and dinner. Go for omega-3 rich fish like salmon, herring and trout.
  • Fillet of Salmon, Salmon steak, Salmon loaf.
  • Baked or grilled trout.

Proteins: Vegetarian (Vegan Safe)

Opt for either peas or dry beans as the main dish of your meal more often. Some alternatives are:

  • Split pea, minestrone, white bean soups or lentils.
  • Chili with kidney or pinto beans.
  • Stir- fried tofu.
  • Baked beans.
  • Kidney beans or Garbanzo on a salad.
  • Vegetarian or garden burgers.
  • Black bean enchiladas.
  • Rice and beans.
  • Hummus layered on soft pita bread.

Use nuts as snacks, in main dishes or on salads. The nuts should replace non-vegetarian food, not supplement them. Try the following ideas:

  • Use pine nuts in your pesto sauce to replace pasta.
  • Add slivered (finely sliced along the grain) almonds to steamed vegetables.
  • Add toasted peanuts or cashew nuts to a vegetable stir fry instead of meat.
  • Use walnuts or pecans on a green salad in place of cheese or meat.

Green Peas

Legumes like peas provide a lot of vegan protein. One cup holds 7.9 grams—equivalent to a cup of milk. Women need around 46 grams of protein a day; men require about 56. If you dislike green peas on the side, blend them into a pesto for pasta.


As seen, most grains do contain small amounts of protein, but quinoa—actually a seed—has more than 8 gm per cup, while including all the nine vital amino acids the body requires for growth as well as restoration. It’s versatility is amazing: it may be added to a soup or a vegetarian chili in winter, served with jaggery along with fruit as a nice and hot cereal for breakfast, or tossed with a vinaigrette and vegetables to create an invigorating summer salad.


Nuts are high in polyphenol antioxidants which by binding to lipoproteins would inhibit oxidative processes that lead to atherosclerosis in vivo. In human supplementation studies nuts have been shown to improve the lipid profile, increase endothelial function and reduce inflammation, all without causing weight gain.” Joe A. Vinson and Yuxing Cai, Nutrition Experts

All nuts provide healthy fats as well as protein, and, prima facie, are an excellent plant-based supplement. But they are very high in calories. For example cashews, pistachios and almonds have 160 calories and 5 or 6 gm of protein per ounce. Eat them raw or dry roasted. Among dry fruits, walnuts are reputedly the best, as research shows they may boost your health in a number of ways at very easy-to-achieve doses. They are a nearly perfect package of protein, healthy fats, fiber, plant sterols, antioxidants, and many vitamins and minerals.

Further, one-quarter cup of walnuts provides more than 100 percent of the daily recommended value of plant-based omega-3 fats, along with high amounts of copper, manganese, biotin and molybdenum. Some exciting research about walnuts includes:

  • Cancer-Fighting Properties: Walnuts help reduce not only the risk of prostate cancer, but breast cancer as well.
  • Cardiac Health: Walnuts contain the amino acid l-arginine, which offers multiple vascular benefits to people with heart disease, or those who have increased risk for heart disease due to multiple cardiac risk factors.
  • Walnuts also contain the plant-based omega-3 fat ALA (Refer Benefits of Flaxseeds).
  • Rare and Powerful Antioxidants-Walnut polyphenols had the best efficacy among the nuts tested & also the highest lipoprotein-bound antioxidant activity (Refer Para 1 Nuts).
  • Weight Control. Eating walnuts is associated with increased satiety after just three days.
  • Improved Reproductive Health in Men.
  • Check on Diabetes.

If three nuts were to be chosen for a diet, they would be raw macadamia, pecans and walnuts, as they provide the highest amount of healthy fat and other benefits, while being on the lower end of the scale in terms of carbohydrates and protein.

Comparison of Tree Nuts
Tree Nut Fat (gm per oz) Protein (gm per oz) Carbohydrates (gm per oz)
Macadamias 22 2 4
Pecans 20 3 4
Pine nuts 20 4 4
Brazil nuts 19 4 3
Walnuts 18 4 4
Hazelnuts 17 3 5
Cashews 13 4 9
Almonds 14 6 6
Pistachios 13 6 8

Chart 12


Bean is a common name for large plant seeds used for human food of the family Leguminosae. Currently, there are about 40, 000 bean varieties, although only a fraction are mass-produced for regular consumption. Beans are a summer crop, maturing in 55–60 days from planting. As the bean pods mature, they turn yellow and dry up, and the beans inside change from green to their mature color.

Dry beans come from both Old World varieties of broad beans (fava beans) and New World varieties (kidney, black, cranberry, pinto, navy/haricot). Beans have something else that meat lacks, phytochemicals, compounds found only in plants. Beans are high in antioxidants, which is good for the human system.

Some kinds of raw beans, especially red and kidney beans, contain a harmful toxin that must be removed by cooking. A recommended method is to boil the beans for at least ten minutes; undercooked beans may be more toxic than raw beans.

More than just a meat substitute, beans are so nutritious that the latest dietary guidelines recommend we triple our current intake from 1 to 3 cups per week. Many people consider beans and peas as vegetarian alternatives for meat. However, they are considered part of the Vegetable Group because they are excellent sources of dietary fiber and nutrients such as folate and potassium.

Beans are comparable to meat when it comes to calories, but they really shine in terms of fiber and water content, two ingredients that make you feel fuller, faster. Adding beans to your diet helps cut calories without feeling deprived. These foods are excellent sources of plant protein, and also provide other nutrients such as iron and zinc, similar to meats, poultry, and fish in their contribution of these nutrients.

Two cups of kidney beans, for example, contain about 26 grams. Therefore, they are also considered part of the Protein Foods Group.

Our diets tend to be seriously skimpy when it comes to fiber (the average American consumes just 15 grams daily), to the detriment of both our hearts and our waistlines. One cup of cooked beans (or two-thirds of a can) provides about 12 grams of fiber − nearly half the recommended daily dose of 21 to 25 grams per day for adult women (30 to 38 grams for adult men). Meat, on the other hand, contains no fiber at all.

This difference in fiber content means that meat is digested fairly quickly, whereas beans are digested slowly, keeping you satisfied longer. Plus, beans are low in sugar, which prevents insulin in the bloodstream from spiking and causing hunger. When you substitute beans for meat in your diet, you get the added bonus of a decrease in saturated fat.

In a recent study, bean eaters weighed, on average, 7 pounds less and had slimmer waists than their bean-avoiding counterparts — yet they consumed 200 calories more per day if they were adults and an incredible 335 calories more if they were teenagers.

Baked beans is a dish containing beans, sometimes baked but, despite the name, usually stewed, in a sauce. Most commercial canned baked beans are made from haricot beans, also known as navy beans, in a sauce. In Ireland and the UK, a tomato and sugar sauce is most commonly used, and they are commonly eaten on toast or as part of a full English breakfast.

American Boston baked beans use a sauce prepared with molasses and salt pork, the popularity of which has led to the city being nicknamed “Beantown”. Beans in a tomato and brown sugar, sugar or corn syrup sauce are a widely available type throughout the U.S. Canada’s Quebec-style beans often use maple syrup. This style is also popular in states adjacent to Canada’s Eastern provinces.

Canned baked beans are used as a convenience food. They may be eaten hot or cold straight from the can as they are fully cooked. Baked beans are also sometimes served with chips, waffles, or the like. The dish of baked beans is commonly described as having a savory-sweet flavor and a brownish or reddish tinted white bean once baked, stewed, canned or otherwise cooked.

In the UK, Ireland, Australia, Hong Kong, Brunei, Malaysia and Singapore the term baked beans usually refers to tinned beans in a tomato sauce. Today, baked beans are a staple convenience food in the UK, often eaten as part of the modern full English breakfast and particularly on toast (called simply ‘beans on toast’).

Baked beans are a staple side dish for various types of barbecue. They are easily handled, and can be served hot or cold, directly from the can, making them handy for outdoor eating. The tomato based, sweet sauce also complements many types of barbecue. The already done beans may also be baked in a casserole dish topped with slices of raw bacon, which is baked until the bacon is done. Spicy seasonings are often used to make the sauce more tangy.

Green beans are often called string beans because years ago a fibrous string ran along the seam of the bean. The string was noticeable when you snapped off the ends. The snapping noise is the reason for its other nickname.

1. Chickpeas

Also called garbanzo beans, these legumes can be tossed into salads, fried and salted as a crispy snack, or pureed into a hummus. They contain 7.3 gm of protein in just half a cup, and are also high in fiber and low in calories.

2. Tempeh and tofu

Foods made from soybeans are some of the highest vegetarian sources of protein: tofu and Tempeh, for example, contain about 15 and 20 gm per half cup, respectively.

3. Edamame

Get your servings of soy straight from the soybean, still in the pod. Boiled edamame, which contains 8.4 grams of protein per half cup, can be served hot or cold and sprinkled with salt. Try it as a snack, an appetizer before dinner, or added to salads or pastas (minus the shell).

4. Hemp

You can find hemp in some cereals and trail mixes, or you can buy hemp seeds (10 grams of protein in 3 tablespoons) and add them to smoothies, pestos, or baked goods. Hemp milk is a dairy-free way to add protein to your diet, and it’s lower in calories than skimmed milk.

5. Chia seeds

Chia seeds are an easy way to add protein (4.7 gm per oz) and fiber to almost any recipe: Chia seeds can be sprinkled over salads, stirred into yoghurt or oatmeal, blended into smoothies, or whipped into a gelatinous texture when soaked in a liquid, forming a rich and creamy pudding-like treat.

6. Seitan

A meat substitute popular with vegetarians, seitan is made from wheat gluten, seasoned with salt and savory flavors and loaded with protein—36 gm per half cup, more than either tofu or tempeh. It looks like duck meat, tastes like chicken, and can be used in any poultry recipe.

How Much Proteins to Eat Per Day?

Daily recommendation
Children 2-3 years old 3 – 4 ounce equivalents
4-8 years old 3 – 4 ounce equivalents
Girls 9-13 years old 5 ounce equivalents
14-18 years old 5 ounce equivalents
Boys 9-13 years old 5 ounce equivalents
14-18 years old 6 ounce equivalents
Women 19-30 years old 5 ½ ounce equivalents
31-50 years old 5 ounce equivalents
51+ years old 6 ½ ounce equivalents
Men 19-30 years old 6 ½ ounce equivalents
31-50 years old 6 ounce equivalents
51+ years old 5 ½ ounce equivalents

Chart 13

Milk And Other Dairy Products

All fluid milk products and many foods made from milk are considered part of this food group. The governing factor is the presence of calcium. Foods constituted of milk that retains its calcium content thus form part of the group. So does Calcium-laced soymilk. Foods constituted of milk that does not have calcium, like cream, cheese and butter are excluded.

Natural milk is a fluid extracted mainly from the bovine family. Milk, whether buffalo, cow, goat or camel, is a popular fluidic drink in itself, the variety being geography-dependent. It forms an important part of tea and coffee, though there are plenty of people who like their tea green or with a slice of lemon and their coffee black. There are many subgroups in milk, like fat-free (skim), low fat (1%), reduced fat (2%) and whole milk. Other varieties of milk most commonly found include flavored milks like chocolate and strawberry, apart from milk-shakes like mango, sapodilla, nutty, etc. Yoghurt is also part of this group.

The USDA has many tips to offer on milk consumption, like:

  • Include milk or calcium-fortified soymilk (soy beverage) as a beverage at meals. Choose fat-free or low-fat milk.
  • If you usually drink whole milk, switch gradually to fat-free milk, to lower saturated fat and calories. Try reduced fat (2%), then low-fat (1%), and finally fat-free (skim).
  • If you drink cappuccinos or lattes — ask for them with fat-free (skim) milk.
  • Add fat-free or low-fat milk instead of water to oatmeal and hot cereals.
  • Use fat-free or low-fat milk when making condensed cream soups (such as cream of tomato).
  • Have fat-free or low-fat yoghurt as a snack.
  • Make a dip for fruits or vegetables from yoghurt.
  • Make fruit-yoghurt smoothies in the blender.
  • For dessert, make chocolate or butterscotch pudding with fat-free or low-fat milk.
  • Top cut-up fruit with flavored yoghurt for a quick dessert.
  • Top casseroles, soups, stews, or vegetables with shredded reduced-fat or low-fat cheese.
  • Top a baked potato with fat-free or low-fat yoghurt.

Milk tends to go sour very quickly, particularly in hot weather. It should always be pasteurized, which may not always be possible in the rural hinterlands of less developed countries. From your side, take all suggested precautions:

  • Avoid raw (unpasteurized) milk or any products made from unpasteurized milk.

Some people choose not to consume milk products for a variety of reasons:

  • If you avoid milk because of lactose intolerance, the most reliable way to get the health benefits of dairy products is to choose lactose-free alternatives within the Dairy Group, such as cheese, yoghurt, lactose-free milk, or calcium-fortified soymilk (soy beverage) or to consume the enzyme lactase before consuming milk.
  • Calcium choices for those who do not consume dairy products include: Calcium fortified juices, cereals, breads, rice milk, or almond milk.
  • Canned fish (sardines, salmon with bones) soybeans and other soy products (tofu made with calcium sulfate, soy yoghurt, tempeh), some other beans, and some leafy greens (collard and turnip greens, kale, etc.). The amount of calcium that can be absorbed from these foods varies.


Daily recommendation
Children 2-3 years old 2 cups Women 19-30 years old 3 cups
4-8 years old 2 ½ cups 31-50 years old 3 cups
Girls 9-13 years old 3 cups 51+ years old 3 cups
14-18 years old 3 cups Men 19-30 years old 3 cups
Boys 9-13 years old 3 cups 31-50 years old 3 cups
14-18 years old 3 cups 51+ years old 3 cups

Chart 14


Scientific definition of oil: An oil is any neutral, nonpolar chemical substance that is a viscous liquid at ambient temperatures and is both hydrophobic (immiscible with water) and

lipophilic (miscible with other oils).

Oils are fats that are liquid at room temperature, like the vegetable oils used in cooking. Oils come from many different plants and from fish. Although oils are not a food group, they provide essential nutrients, which is why they are included in USDA food patterns. Oils have a high carbon and hydrogen content and are usually flammable and slippery.

Fat is not something to avoid. It’s vital for normal growth and development. Dietary fat provides energy, protects our organs, maintains cell membranes, and helps the body absorb and process nutrients and helps burn body fat. The catch: Most of the fat that you eat should come from unsaturated sources, monounsaturated (MUFA) and polyunsaturated (PUFA).

All fats and oils are a mixture of saturated fatty acids and unsaturated fatty acids. Fats that are solid at room temperature (e.g., butter) contain more saturated fats and/or trans fats than oils. Oils contain more MUFA and PUFA fats. Saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol tend to raise ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol levels in the blood, increasing the risk of heart disease. In some high-solid-fat foods such as cheese and whole milk, the fat remains invisible. To help lower risk of heart disease, you must cut back on oils containing saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol.

Several edible vegetable and animal oils, and also fats, are used for various purposes in cooking and food preparation. In particular, many foods are fried in oil much hotter than boiling water. Oils are also used for flavoring and for modifying the texture of foods. Cooking oils are derived either from animal fat, as butter, lard and other types, or plant oils from the olive, maize, sunflower, peanut and many other species.

The Importance of Oils in a Healthy Diet

In the USDA Guidance System, three to five daily servings of oils are illustrated as part of a healthy diet. The case is the same with many institutions, like Mayo Clinic. “Although oils make up a small segment of the pyramid, they play a key role, ” says Katherine Gartner from the clinic. “Oils provide basic nutrients to help maintain body functions. Which oils you choose for your diet can make a big difference to your health, ” she adds.

At 9 gm per calorie, oils are the most efficient energy nutrient you can consume. Oils help:

  • Store and provide energy, while building healthy cell membranes.
  • The nervous system in sending messages to the brain, which itself is 60 percent fat.
  • Your intestines absorb vitamins A, D, E and K, and store them in your body fat.
  • In regulating hormones, lubricating skin and cushioning organs.
  • Add taste and texture to the food you consume.
  • Maintain healthy skin and other tissues.
  • Creating essential fatty acids – Dietary fats that are essential for growth development and cell functions, but cannot be made by our body’s processes.
  • Forming steroid hormones needed to regulate many bodily processes.

Your body already has all the saturated oils and trans fat oils it needs. It needs only unsaturated oils like vegetable, olive, peanut, canola, soybean, sunflower, safflower, corn and fish oils. Saturated oils, which are unhealthy, include shortening, margarine, coconut oil, palm oil, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, animal fats, and as just stated, butter.

Some oils are used mainly as flavorings, such as walnut oil and sesame oil. A number of foods are naturally high in oils, like nuts, olives, some fish and avocados. Foods that are mainly oil include mayonnaise, certain salad dressings, and soft margarine with no trans fats. Check the Nutrition Facts label while shopping to find margarines with Zero grams (0 gm) of trans fat.

Most oils are high in MUFA or PUFA fats, and low in saturated fats. Oils from plant sources (vegetable and nut oils) do not contain any cholesterol. In fact, no plant foods contain cholesterol. That said, a few plant oils, however, including coconut oil, palm oil, and palm kernel oil, are high in saturated fats and for nutritional purposes should be considered to be solid fats. A noteworthy aspect is that the latter do not produce oil from fruits till they become trees.

The standard American diet reportedly contains too much saturated oil and not enough unsaturated oil. Plants and fish oils, which contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, are the unsaturated oils missing from many American diets. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are the only two out of 20 fatty acids your body can’t produce by itself. Of these two essential fatty acids, omega-3 has been successful in treating several health conditions.

Dr. Edward L. Schneider, Professor of Gerontology at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology and Professor of Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC writes that omega-3 in the form of fish oil helps treat depression, prevents heart disease or stroke, retards memory loss or Alzheimer’s and increases longevity.

Foods containing omega-3 include flaxseed, walnuts, salmon, sardines, soybeans, halibut, shrimp, tofu and scallops. Eat one to two servings of fatty fish a week, or take 1 gram daily of fish oil supplement. The fish oil will keep the heart and brain healthy and happy. If you are counting calories, stick to three servings of oils a day to stay within your limit. As always, get your doctor’s approval before using omega-3 fatty acids as alternative treatment .

Some oils are used mainly as flavorings, such as walnut oil and sesame oil.

Most oils are high in MUFA or PUFA fats, and low in saturated fats. Oils from plant sources (vegetable and nut oils) do not contain any cholesterol. In fact, no plant foods contain cholesterol. That said, a few plant oils, however, including coconut oil, palm oil, and palm kernel oil, are high in saturated fats and for nutritional purposes should be considered to be solid fats. A noteworthy aspect is that the latter do not produce oil from fruits till they become trees.

Chart 15

Physical Activity

Our ancestors depended on their legs to walk to wherever they wanted to go, use their arms and hands to break and cut pieces of wood and light a fire and so on. They may not have realized it, but they were carrying out physical activity. Their physical activity through the day would tire them and they would need food to sustain themselves. This was a ceaseless cycle and as they kept growing, greater physical activity demanded increased needs for sustenance. After a certain age, physical activity would reduce and so would needs. The benefits of physical activity were a healthy life, good bowel movement and sound sleep.

Circumstances have changed over millennia; the types of physical activity have changed but the balancing of personal physical activity vis-à-vis has the same fulcrum and the same two arms, those of demand and those of necessity. A human being, right from childhood, has to be active, for the same reasons and more. The notion of physical activity remains unchanged; any movement of his muscles was some kind of activity.

Physical Activity for Children

Physical activity in infants and young children is, of course, necessary for healthy growth and development. Children younger than six should be physically active in ways appropriate for their age and stage of development. Physical activity guidelines for children younger than 6 that are specific to the early care and education setting are slightly different.

Children below six start exercising from their moment of birth, first by screaming or wailing. Before you know it, they have started to crawl and then, one fine day, walk. For their age, they are doing enough physical activity. By the time they reach three, they walk, run, crawl, play, jump around for perhaps one minute at a time, but then they are doing it over 10-14 hours, reaching between 40-60 minutes a day.

Between the ages of three and six, they should do 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of physical activity each day, a task easily exceeded.

This may sound like a lot, but is not a cause for alarm! Your child may already be meeting, if not overshooting the activity norms for Americans. And, you’ll quickly find the easy and fun ways that your child enjoys and which meet recommendations. Encourage your kid to take part in age-related physical activity that is good fun and has options that aren’t boring.

Some physical activity is better-suited for children and some for older children crossing, say, twelve years of age. For example, children don’t usually need formal muscle-strengthening programs, such as lifting weights. Younger children usually strengthen their muscles when they do gymnastics, play on a jungle gym or climb trees. As children grow older and become adolescents, they may start structured weight programs. They may already be doing these types of programs, on a limited scale, along with their football or basketball team practice.

On your part, just ensure your child is doing three types of physical activity:

1. Aerobic Activity

What is aerobic activity? Aerobic activity or “cardio” is defined as any physical activity that gets you breathing harder and your heart beating faster; in effect, exercise that requires increased pumping of oxygenated blood by the heart to deliver oxygen to working muscles. It stimulates the heart and respiration rate to increase in a manner sustainable for the active exercise session. General examples are pushing a lawn mower, dancing and cycling to the store – all such types of activity count, as long as you do them at a moderate or vigorous intensity for at least 10 minutes at a stretch. Intensity is a measure of how hard your body is working during aerobic activity. Moderate levels for a 45-year old male show heart rates of 110-130, whereas intense levels show heart rates of 140-160.

Aerobic activity should make up most of your child’s 60 or more minutes of physical activity each day. This can include either moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, or vigorous-intensity activity, such as running. Be sure to include vigorous-intensity aerobic activity on at least 3 days per week. Cycling on a baby’s tricycle is a good starting point, moving to a push-scooter with handles as the pace picks up. Moderate- and vigorous-intensity exercises for children may be explained as follows:

  • On a 0 to 10 scale, where idling is a 0 and peak level of activity is a 10, moderate-intensity activity is a 5 or 6. At that age, his/her heart normally beats at close to 80-85 per minute. When your kid does moderate-intensity activity, his/her heart will beat faster than normal and he/she will breathe harder than normal, up to 120 beats per minute. Vigorous-intensity activity is a level 7 or 8. When your kid does vigorous-intensity activity, he/she will breathe much harder than normal and his/her heart will beat much faster than normal, touching 140 beats per minute.
  • Think about the activity your child is doing and compare it to the average child sitting in class. What amount of intensity would the average child use? Nil! So, when your kid walks to school with friends each morning, she/he probably doing moderate-intensity aerobic activity. But while she/he is at school, when she/he runs, or chases others playing tag during a recess, she/he is probably doing vigorous-intensity activity.

2. Muscle Strengthening

Include muscle strengthening activities, such as gymnastics or push-ups, at least 3 days per week as part of your child’s 60 or more minutes. Limit each session to six minutes, doing three exercises for two minutes each. Do this three times a day on weekends, but not nearing meal times. The exercises are simple; sit-ups, pushups, pull ups, basic calisthenics, etc.

3. Bone Strengthening

Include bone strengthening activities, such as jumping rope, playing hopscotch or just hopping around on one leg, running, jumping off three steps, etc., at least 3 days per week as part of your child’s 60 or more minutes.

How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?

For every second that you live, your body expends a certain amount of energy to sustain the activities going on in tour body with and without your knowledge. For instance, to pump blood throughout the body, the heart normally beats at 64-72 times per minute. This rate is more than sufficient, and the heart’s energy requirement can be calculated. But there are numerous other organs also working, like your lungs which take in air, filter it and oxygenate your blood which goes to your brain and all parts of the body. Your liver, lungs, stomach and other organs are also at work. If you stop at the minimum, you are a prime candidate for diseases like cardiac malfunction, various cancers, diabetes, muscular dystrophy, etc.

There are numerous health benefits to be gained by being active, including reducing the risk of the diseases just mentioned. Being active can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Regular activity also makes you feel good and improves your mental health. You too need to do two types of physical activity each week to improve your health–aerobic and muscle-strengthening.

Adults need at least:

  • Two hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., brisk walking) every week and muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, back, hips, abdomen, chest, arms and shoulders). Alternatively,
  • 1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (running/ jogging) every week AND muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week that work all major muscle groups. This video explains all.


  • 1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., jogging or running) every week and
  • Muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).


  • An equivalent mix of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity and
  • Muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).

After 18, the level of activity can be stepped up. Between 18-40, adults should increase their activity to:

  • 5 hours (300 minutes) each week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity and
  • Muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).

More time equals more health benefits. If you exceed 300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity, or 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity activity, you stand to gain even more health benefits.

Measuring Exercise Intensity

To maximize benefits from exercise, the intensity must normally be at a moderate or vigorous level. For weight loss, you have to move to the more intense levels to burn maximum calories. As always, prudence demands balance. Overdoing exercises increase your chances of strain, injury and burnout. If you’re doing exercise and physical activity ab initio, start light and slowly build up to moderate and then vigorous intensity.

Exercise intensity also is reflected in your breathing and heart rate, whether you’re sweating, and how tired your muscles feel. You can gauge exercise intensity by how you feel.

  • Moderate intensity: Moderate activity seems rather hard. Some clues are:
    • Your breathing quickens, but you’re not out of breath.
    • You develop a light sweat after about 10 minutes of activity.
    • You can carry on a conversation, but you can’t sing.
  • Vigorous exercise intensity: Vigorous activity seems challenging. Some clues are:
    • Your breathing is deep and rapid.
    • You develop a sweat after a few minutes of activity.
    • You can’t say more than a few words without pausing for breath.

This short and interesting video elaborates aerobic activities and the distinctions.

Gauging intensity using your heart rate:

Subtract own age from 220, e.g., if you’re 45, subtract 45 from 220 to obtain your maximum heart rate, which is 175. This number is the maximum rate your heart should ever beat per minute during exercise. Now, calculate moderate and rigorous exercise intensity.

  • Moderate exercise intensity: 50 to 70 percent of 175 (88-124).
  • Vigorous exercise intensity: 70 to 85 percent of 175 (125-150).
Approximate calories used by a 154 pound man
Moderate physical activities: In 1 hour In 30 minutes
Hiking 370 185
Light gardening/yard work 330 165
Dancing 330 165
Golf (walking and carrying clubs) 330 165
Bicycling (less than 10 miles per hour) 290 145
Walking (3 ½ miles per hour) 280 140
Weight training (general light workout) 220 110
Stretching 180 90
Vigorous physical activities: In 1 hour In 30 minutes
Running/jogging (5 miles per hour) 590 295
Bicycling (more than 10 miles per hour) 590 295
Swimming (slow freestyle laps) 510 255
Aerobics 480 240
Walking (4 ½ miles per hour) 460 230
Heavy yard work (chopping wood) 440 220
Weight lifting (vigorous effort) 440 220
Basketball (vigorous) 440 220

Chart 16

How Much Food Should You Eat?

We have already defined what a calorie is in terms of energy content and seen how it is used in the matter of food. The number of calories that you should eat per day depends on several factors, like age, size, gender, height, lifestyle, general physical condition, job, leisure time activities, genetics, body size, body composition, what medications you may be on, etc. Serena Williams needs far more calories vis-a-vis a Julia Roberts. ‘How much’ is relative to your daily calorie needs – consume more each day than you burn and you will put on weight; consume less and you will lose weight. The former half of the earlier statement is a given; the latter half is not really another given. It is a very slow to show process, if just left to time and visible results need acceleration via physical exercise.

There are some other factors which may affect the amount you can eat, e.g., if your food has a lot of fiber, you can usually consume more calories than if you tuck away food with very low fiber content. The most recent calorie-related discovery is that the longer you masticate your food, the more the calories your body retains.

Recommended Calorie Intake Per Day

The recommended daily intake of calories varies globally. According to the NHS, “the average male adult needs approximately 2, 500 calories per day to keep his weight constant, while the average adult female needs 2, 000.” US authorities suggest 2, 700 calories per day for men and 2, 200 for women across a far greater and varied cross section of females in the country.

The NHS take a practical viewpoint that you cannot carry a calculator and chart with you to count exact numbers of calories. Instead, it advises people, exactly as CDC does, that they should concentrate on:

  • Eating a healthy and well balanced diet.
  • Being physically active.
  • Roughly balancing calories consumed with calories burnt off each day across a week.
  • Eating your five portions of fruit and vegetable per day as detailed in the 5-A-Day Plan. Apparently, this also extends longevity, as reported by Swedish researchers in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, July 2013 edition .

According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the average person’s minimum calorie requirement per day globally is approximately 1, 800 calories. This figure is not met in sub-Saharan and part of coastal Africa and many other countries.

Over the past two decades, sugar is being added to an increasing number of victuals we consume, which have crept in insidiously and are deleterious to health. Regrettably, food labels in the USA and the EU omit details on how much sugar has been added. It is therefore, not possible for consumers to establish how much sugar has been added to foods & beverages.

How much food you should consume also depends on your aim: to maintain body weight, shed or put on weight, e.g., step up one level in boxing categories or prepare for some upcoming sports event. That said, any focus on the amount of food intake is tightly coupled with calorie intake.

The Importance of Meal Timing

In a research carried out by specialists from Tel Aviv University in 2013, it was found that a large breakfast – one containing approximately 700 calories – helped bring one’s weight down and keep it down, ideal for losing weight and reducing your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and high cholesterol. The American Diabetes Association says that if you are not too keen on traditional breakfast, you can switch to soup, a sandwich or even a slice of pizza. It recommends some creative ideas for the most important meal of the day like the Breakfast Shake: 1 cup fat- free milk or plain non fat yoghurt blended with 1/2 cup fruit, 1 tsp. wheat germ; add 1 tsp. nuts or nut butter, ice and whirl. A Case Study on the Israeli experiment follows.

Case Study: A Big Breakfast Is Healthier Than a Big Dinner

Researchers have found that eating a big breakfast of 700 calories promotes weight loss and reduces risks for diabetes, heart disease and high cholesterol. The recently published study in the health magazine Obesity comes from Tel Aviv University, where Prof. Daniela Jakubowicz and colleagues studied the impact of different caloric intake at varying times of day. What they found is that the time of day we eat has a significant impact on how our bodies process food.

To study how this timing affects our bodies, the team put 93 obese women into two different groups:

  • “Big breakfast group” – consumed 700 calories at breakfast, 500 at lunch and 200 at dinner
  • “Big dinner group” – consumed 200 calories at breakfast, 500 at lunch and 700 at dinner.

The women’s diets consisted of moderate fats and carbohydrates, totaling 1, 400 calories, and they followed the diets for 12 weeks. The 700-calorie meals, whether eaten for breakfast or dinner, contained the exact same foods, and included a dessert item such as a piece of chocolate cake or a cookie.

  • The women in the big breakfast group lost, on average, 17.8 pounds and 3 inches from their waist.
  • The women in the big dinner group, on the other hand, only lost 7.3 pounds and 1.4 inches from their waist.

Additionally, the women from the big breakfast group had larger decreases in insulin, glucose and triglyceride levels than the women from the big dinner group. The researchers note that one of the most important findings is that the women from the big breakfast group did not experience high blood glucose level spikes that normally occur after a meal.

Although the big dinner group was eating a sensible diet and losing weight, the researchers actually found that their triglycerides – a type of fat found in the body – increased, putting them at a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol.

Victoria Taylor from the British Heart Foundation notes that the study from the University of Tel Aviv stresses how important the timing of our meals is for our health. Though she does say that this is a small, short-term study and therefore further research is needed to check long-term results and effects for men, she suggests eating in the morning to promote weight loss.

She adds: “Wholegrain toast or breakfast cereals with low-fat milk will make that mid-morning snack less tempting. If you’re going for a cooked breakfast, try poached eggs instead of fried and make sure you grill any bacon or sausages.” A 2012 study shows that eating egg proteins for breakfast may help you feel fuller for longer.

The Daily Requirement of Calories

Daily Calorie Requirement: Male Vs Female
Sedentary Level Low Active Level Active Level AGE Sedentary Level Low Active Level Active Level




2-3 years







4-5 years







6-7 years







8-9 years







10-11 years







12-13 years







14-16 years







17-18 years







19-30 years







31-50 years







51-70 years







>71 years




Chart 17


Another method of calculating the number of calories you need is the Harris Benedict Equation. This method estimates what your BMR (basal metabolic rate) and daily requirements are. Your BMR total is multiplied by another number which represents your level of physical activity. The resulting number is your recommended daily calorie intake in order to keep your body weight where it is. There are a number of BMR calculators on the web. Once you find out how many calories are required to retain your weight, the number of calories to be eaten to change your weight is easily calculated.

You can do it yourself if you are so inclined. Do make sure to apply the factor representing your level of physical activity to the first result.

How Much You Should Weigh For Your Age And Height

An exemplar body weight depends on several factors like age, height, gender, muscle-fat ratio, and bone density.

Body Mass Index (BMI)

Some experts in health management swear by the Body Mass Index (BMI) method to determine if your weight is ideal. Others argue against using the BMI method, preferring the waist to hip ratio instead. They say that the BMI can be misleading, e.g., a muscleman like Hulk Hogan has a high BMI but almost no fat compared to a ‘Fatso Oliver Hardy’ whose BMI could well be lower. In general, the BMI may be considered a fair indicator for the ‘average human’.

Since there are so many variables in calculating BMI, the levels of being overweight and obese in a country like the USA, are far higher than those in other countries, e.g., France. A French individual will aim for a lesser ideal weight than an American if he just intended to compare himself with others. Again, there is no evidence that overweight person has a higher mortality risk when compared to people with normal weight. A recent study has stated the exact reverse, that overweight people have a lower all-cause mortality risk compared to those of normal weight.

Essentially, your BMI is a ratio of your weight to height. Your BMI in SI units: Your weight (Kg) divided by your height squared (m2).

The BMI Scale: People with a BMI that is:

  • Less than 18.5 are underweight.
  • Between 18.5 and 25 are ideal.
  • Between 25 and 30 are overweight.
  • Over 30 are obese.

Take two cases:

  • SI (Metric) Units: BMI for a 70 Kg man who is 1.7 meters tall. BMI=70/1.72 or 70/2.89 =24.22, ideal.
  • Imperial units: Your weight (pounds) times 703, divided by the square of your height in inches. Take a man weighing 200 pounds, height 6 ft 1 inch (73 inches). 732 = 5329 or 200 x 703 divided by 5329 = BMI 26.38, overweight.

The Waist-Hip Ratio (WHR)

The waist-hip ratio is that of the circumference of your waist to your hips. Measure the circumference of your waist just above the navel, and divide it by the circumference of your hip at its widest part. So, if a woman’s waist is 26 inches and hips 34, her WHR is 26/34 = 0.765. WHR is linked to the hazard of heart problems as follows.

Male WHR

  • Less than 0.9 – low risk of heart problems.
  • 0.9 to 0.99 – moderate risk.
  • 1 or over – high risk.

Female WHR

  • Less than 0.8 – low risk.
  • 0.8 to 0.89 – moderate risk.
  • 0.9 or over – high risk.

Experts argue that WHR is a far better indicator of ideal body weight and the perils of developing serious health conditions vis-a-vis BMI. Many studies have demonstrated that humans with apple-shaped bodies, having larger WHRs actually have higher health hazards compared to people with pear-shaped bodies, who have lower WHRs. The former have more fat on the waist, while the latter have fat around the hips.

Females with a WHR < 0.8 are usually healthier and more fertile than women who have higher WHRs. They are less prone to diabetes, cardiovascular disorders and most cancers. Similarly, men with a WHR < 0.9 are usually healthier and more fertile than men who have higher WHRs, and are less prone to serious health conditions or malaises. If WHR replaced BMI as a predictor of heart attack worldwide, many more people would feature as risks.

Waist-to-Height Ratio

A third scale has been mooted by Dr Margaret Ashwell, ex-science director of the British Nutrition Foundation, and her team. They state that waist-to-height ratio is better at predicting future risk of cardiovascular health conditions and diabetes than BMI. She says, “Keep your waist circumference to less than half your height. Doing so can help increase life expectancy for every person in the world.” Measure your waist mid-way between the lower rib and the iliac crest (the top of the pelvic bone at the hip).

Calories in Alcohol and Desserts

Alcohol is a major provider of unwanted calories:• Scotch Whisky (1 Pub Shot/35ml) = 78 cal.• Bacardi and Diet Coke (275ml) = 52 cal.

• Brandy (1 Pub Shot/35ml) = 72 cal.

• Gin (1 Pub Shot/35ml) = 72 cal.

• Jack Daniels (1 Pub Shot/35ml) = 78 cal.

• Vodka, 40% Volume (35 ml) = 78 cal.

• Baileys, Irish Cream (35ml) = 115 cal.

• Beer, Bitter, Canned, 330 ml = 106 cal.

• Beer, Guinness, Stout, 33 ml = 100 cal.

• Sherry, Sweet (1 Pub Shot/35ml) = 48 cal.

• Wine, White, Medium (125 ml) = 93 cal.

• Wine, Red, Medium (125 ml) = 85 cal.

• Champagne (125 ml) = 91 cal.

• Port (100 ml) = 158 cal

Desserts provide a huge amount of calories:

  • Ice Cream 1 cup (125 gm) 267
  • Apple Pie, 1 piece (1/8) 411
  • Pecan Pie 503
  • Lotte Choco Pie 440
  • Chocolate Chip Biscuits (100gm) 458
  • Sugar Biscuits (Includes Vanilla) 478
  • Ice Cream Cone (100 gm) 218
  • Ice Cream Sodas 210
  • Chocolate Cake (100 gm) 358
  • Danish Pastry (100 gm) 403
  • Plain Pancakes (100 gm) 227
  • Chocolate Puddings 157
  • Chocolate Mousse (100 gm) 209
  • Crepe Suzette (100 gm) 239

Chart 18


There are a number of websites which will give you data on all food items gratis. The food calories list is a table of everyday foods listing their calorie content per average portion. The food calories list also gives the calorie content in 100 grams so it can be compared with any other products not listed here. The table can be useful if you want to exchange a food with similar calorie content when following a weight loss low calorie program.

For the overweight American, an 1, 800 calorie diet should be fine, coupled with half an hour of moderate physical exercise per day. A sample would look like:

GRAINS 6 oz VEGETABLES 2.5 Cups FRUITS 1.5 Cups MILK 3 Cups MEAT & BEANS 5 oz
Make half your grains whole Vary your veggies. Focus on fruits Get your calcium-rich foods. Go lean with protein. Aim for these amounts each week: Focus on fruits Get your calcium-rich foods Go lean with protein
Aim for at least 3 ounces of whole grains a day Dark green veggies= 3 cups Eat a variety of fruit Go low-fat or fat-free when you choose milk, yoghurt, or cheese Choose low-fat or lean meats and poultry
Orange veggies= 2 cups Go easy on fruit juices Vary your protein routine–choose more fish, beans, peas, nuts, and seeds
Dry beans and peas= 3 cups
Starchy veggies = 3 cups Know your limits on fats, sugars, and sodium.Your allowance for oils is 5 teaspoons a day.Limit extras–solid fats and sugars–to 195 calories a day.
Other veggies= 6.5 cups
Find your balance between food and physical activity; be physically active for at least 30 minutes most days of the week.To step up to a 2, 000 calorie diet, add one cup of fruit, half a grilled chicken breast and one cup of non-fat yoghurt.

Chart 19

Track Your Body Weight Accurately

There’s no point going on a weight-reduction spree without keeping track of your progress in shedding weight. The ideal way of going about this process is by keeping track of weight lost and body fat lost concurrently. The first step is buying a decent body-scale.

Scales will provide diverse body weights at different times of the day, because your body weight changes throughout the day. Water, food, clothes, etc., have a say in your weight at any given time. You cannot keep track of these variations in your weight; focus on averages. Weigh yourself at least twice a day: when you wake up, at midday, if possible, and before you go to bed. Ideally speaking, you should weigh yourself naked. Average the weight measurement for the day, and then use these averages to get a weekly average.

Seeing how your weight fluctuates through the day, and a decline over time (if you are shedding weight), keeps you motivated. Women tend to retain water during their menstrual cycles, so that’s another thing that must be borne in mind. Muscle is denser than fat and takes up less space, so if you are adding muscle, your weight could increase, even though you’re cutting off fat and slimming down. It’s quite possible for your scale weight to remain the same.

Track Fat Loss Correctly

Knowing your body fat percentage can give you a better idea of how much fat you really need to lose and, even better, whether you’re making progress in your program, something your scale can’t tell you. Accurately tracking fat loss requires regularly body fat measurements with a reasonably low margin of error. While you have many options available to you— dual energy absorptiometry, ultrasound, water displacement, bioelectrical impedance scales and a number of others—they can cost a lot of money. If you can afford it, go ahead.

Certified personal trainer Mariana Abeid-McDougall explains, “For general health gains, usually a combination of body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, and sum of 5 skin folds is the best assessment, as it provides information on both the amount and distribution of body fat in order to gain a better assessment of body weight, adiposity, and fat distribution.” She adds a caveat that goals ought to focus on health first and appearance second, otherwise the results could be hazardous. “Many individuals (especially women) who want to lose weight often times do not need to do so—they just want to do so to fit society’s current beauty norms. This results in both an unhealthy body image and, in severe cases, eating disorders in both men and women, ” she adds.

Set practical goals. If aiming for the ideal healthy fat percentage, women should stay around 25-26 percent and men around 20. Patience is important. Bodies change dramatically as you age; the difference between a 30 – 40 year old pair will be radically different from the characteristics of a 40-50 year old pair. Progress cannot take place overnight, and the early stages show the lowest change. And stay away from the mirror.

Ideal Body Fat Percentage

The ideal body fat percentage is 18-24 percent for males and 25-31 for females. Women need the extra fat due to constitutional and physiological differences such as hormones, breasts, and sexual organs. In addition, women need a higher amount of body fat for ovulation. Males who have more than 25 percent fat and females more than 32 are considered obese.

One other factor regarding fat is that you cannot drop below certain levels without seriously jeopardizing your wellbeing. These levels, called Essential Fat Levels are two to five percent for males and 10-13 percent for females.

Discretionary Calories

The quantity of food a person must consume is determined by two factors, the requirement of eating mandated nutrient intakes and the requirement to consume calories sufficient to offset energy expenditure, thereby maintaining a steady weight. People can eat the recommended nutrients by carefully selecting and balancing foods that have higher and/or lower-energy densities, yet eating fewer calories than needed for their daily energy expenditure. This way, an individual will find some calories left the charted daily calorie allocation. These calories can now be used freely, since nutrient requirement have been met.

These remaining calories are called discretionary calories, and calculated as the difference between total energy needed and the energy consumed to match the desired nutrient intake. They can be spent on foods like milk, meat, butter, cheese, sauce or syrup. These calories can be spent on sodas or alcohol or some more of the healthy foods on offer.

Discretionary Calories and Sedentary Lifestyle

Discretionary calories are available only if the quantity of calories consumed to meet advocated nutrient intake is lower than total daily calories spent. The extent of this difference, whether positive or negative, is a function of the how many nutrients the foods eaten contained and the total requirement of energy. The total energy requirement depends entirely on the physical activity undertaken.

Because of minimal activity lifestyles and food that are usually relatively high in solid fats and added sugars, most Americans tend to use up discretionary calories well before meeting

the quota allocated for nutrient intake. Drinking low-fat milk rather than skim milk wastes discretionary calories, as does eating a medium-fat hamburger instead of a lean cut of meat. A person can increase his or her discretionary calories by increasing physical activity—burning more calories increases total calorie needs, and increases the maximum amount of calories a person can consume daily and by consuming nutrient-dense foods relatively lower in energy density (i.e., a healthy diet).

Key Points: Discretionary Calories

  • As just explained, the best method of increasing the number of discretionary calories is to increase physical activity. The more the physical activity, the more the discretionary calories that will be available.
  • Make nutrient-dense selections from the basic food groups, especially of foods that are very good sources of vitamin E, potassium, calcium, and fiber.
  • Obtain recommended nutrient intakes from the basic food groups and oils/trans-free soft margarines before consuming discretionary calories.
  • Even if many discretionary calories are available, keeping saturated and trans fat intake very low is advisable to help reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • Avoid alcohol. If you must imbibe, limit intake to one serving of alcohol per day for women and two for men—even if surplus discretionary calories are available.

Most diet plans in the 1600 calorie range and higher tend to reserve a small amount of discretionary calories, of the order of 10-12 percent per day. For an 1800 calorie diet plan, you can expect a built in reserve of 200 calories, allowing you that one luxury that reduces the tedium of dieting. Such a luxury will not be available in stricter diets, like the 1200 calorie plan.

Age and sex Not physically active* Physically active**








Children 2-3 years old 1000 calories 165*** 1000-1400 calories 165 to 170
Children 4-8 years old 1200-1400 calories 170*** 1400-1800 calories 170 to 195
Girls 9-13 years old 1600 calories 130 1600-2200 calories 130 to 290
Boys 9-13 years old 1800 calories 195 1800-2600 calories 195 to 410
Girls 14-18 years old 1800 calories 195 2000-2400 calories 265 to 360
Boys 14-18 years old 2200 calories 290 2400-3200 calories 360 to 650
Females 19-30 years old 2000 calories 265 2000-2400 calories 265 to 360
Males 19-30 years old 2400 calories 360 2600-3000 calories 410 to 510
Females 31-50 years old 1800 calories 195 2000-2200 calories 265 to 290
Males 31-50 years old 2200 calories 290 2400-3000 calories 360 to 510
Females 51+ years old 1600 calories 130 1800-2200 calories 195 to 290
Males 51+ years old 2000 calories 265 2200-2800 calories 290 to 425

Chart 20

What Are Added Sugars?

Added sugars or extrinsic sugars are sugars and syrups that are added to foods or beverages when they are processed or prepared. Chemically speaking, they are the same as sugars that are naturally-occurring, and this term is now mostly used in nutrition and medicine to help identify foods characterized by added energy. Added sugars have no nutritional value but a lot of energy (calories), thus adding what are known as “empty calories”. Analysis has shown that added sugar is distinctively related to high calorie intake leading to putting on weight and even obesity.

This hazard was on the upswing in the last quarter of the 20th century, but is refreshingly showing a decline at the start of this millennium. This decline is reflected by the reduction in the intake of sweetened beverages, and attributed to government health awareness initiatives and other programs.

The names of added sugars on labels are legion, but may contain the words sugar and syrups, or chemical names ending in ‘oses’, like fructose, dextrose, etc. The main sources of added sugars for Americans are:

  • Donuts
  • regular soft drinks, energy drinks, and sports drinks
  • Candy
  • Cakes
  • Cookies
  • Pies
  • Sweet rolls, pastries, and donuts
  • Fruit drinks
  • Ice creams

What to Check on the Food Label

Check the label for the cholesterol, saturated fat, sodium and trans fat content of all packaged foods. All processed meats like sausages, frankfurters, hams, luncheon and deli meats add sodium. Check the quantity printed to limit intake of sodium. The same holds good for packaged poultry and pork which have a salted solution; look for the sodium added. Check the label for all facts and figures and statements like ‘self-basting’, telling you that salt has been added. Many types of processed meats have low fat versions available. The label can be used for comparison to select products with lower fat and saturated fat. Women likely to become pregnant, already pregnant women, nursing moms and toddlers must avoid eating certain varieties of fish; they should eat fish that have low levels of mercury.

What Is Obesity?

An obese human is one who has put on so much body fat that he/she could face serious detrimental effects on their wellbeing. If his body weight is 20 percent or higher than ideal, he is obese. A BMI of 30 or more renders you obese. The main causes of obesity are:

1. Consuming Excessive Calories

People are today eating far more than earlier, mainly in developed and developing nations. Public numerous and expensive awareness movements to encourage people to eat healthily have failed; we still overeat. In 1980 14 percent of the adult population of the USA was obese; by 2000 the figure reached 31 percent (The Obesity Society).

In the USA, the consumption of calories increased from 1, 542 per day for women in 1971 to 1, 877 per day in 2004 and 2, 450 in 1971 & 2, 618 in 2004 for men. Surprisingly, this jump in calories is due not to fat, but to carbohydrates (sugars). Increased intake of sweetened sodas has significantly raised the carbohydrate intake of young American adults across the last thirty years. Consumption of fast-foods has tripled over the same period.

2. A Sedentary Lifestyle

Automation, remote controls, televisions, computers, washing machines, dish washers, video games and a host of modern convenience gadgets have moved the majority of masses into an inactive lifestyle contrasting sharply with the active lifestyle of their progenitors. Four decades back, shopping meant walking to the high street to the grocers, bakers, appliance stores, banks, etc. As large supermarkets and shopping malls emerged, people stepped into their cars to buy their weekly provisions. In countries like the USA, the car has replaced the foot and people drive to their destination, even if a couple of hundred yards away.

The lesser your activities, the fewer the calories burnt. Calories apart, physical activity effects how your hormones work, which, in turn, effects how your body reacts to food. Physical activity keeps your insulin levels stable. Unstable levels of insulin are linked to gaining weight.

3. Not Sleeping Enough

If you don’t get your 40 winks, the danger of obesity doubles, according to research carried out at the University of Warwick. The hazard is applicable to adults and kids both. Production of Ghrelin, an appetite stimulating hormone increases, while production of Leptin, a hormone that restrains appetite, reduces.

4. Reduced Rates of Smoking

About 10 percent of smokers who quit gain a lot of weight − 30 pounds (13.5 Kg) or more. Others also put on weight, limited to six to eight lbs (3-3.5 Kg).

5. Obesity has Become Self-perpetuating

The longer you are overweight, the harder it is for you to shed weight. Researchers from the University of Michigan and the National Council of Science and Technology in Argentina state, “Obesity is in part a self-perpetuating disorder and the results further emphasize the importance of early intervention in childhood to try to prevent the condition whose effects can last a lifetime. We will now try to pinpoint the reasons why most adults find it exceedingly difficult to maintain meaningful weight loss from dieting and exercise alone.”

Most surveys across the USA and the UK reveal that a large number of people are either overweight or obese. They need to cut down on their daily intake of food. The simplest solution is to find out how much you need to eat based on data available and reduce your intake by twenty percent of the calorie count in the starchy food and desserts. If you need 2, 300 calories, reduce your calorie count by 460 a day, the equivalent of skipping one glass of wine, dessert and a shot of Port or your two double whiskeys, a light dessert plus your Camembert or Brie. This will account for four lbs (1.8 Kg) per month, providing you maintain an active life style.

After marriage or the age of 30, adults gain between one and two pounds a year (0.3 to 0.8 Kg) on the average. The first aim should be to prevent this gain using some new strategies. The good news is that scientists have successfully developed an ingredient that can be added to foods to make people feel full and prevent weight gain. Note the wording-prevent weight gain and not induce loss of weight. Researchers at Imperial College London and the University of Glasgow found that the ingredient was effective at preventing weight gain among overweight human volunteers. The ingredient contains propionate, which stimulates the gut to release hormones that act on the brain to reduce hunger.

Propionate is produced naturally when dietary fiber is fermented by microbes in the gut, but the new ingredient, called inulin-propionate ester, provides much larger quantities of propionate than people can acquire with a normal diet. Humans do not put on weight as propionate induces a feeling of fullness in the stomach, curbing your appetite effectively. Lapsing to a sedentary lifestyle will nullify the healthful effect of propionate.

The problem lies in cases where people are overweight and continuing to add weight because they are eating and drinking 500 calories extra every day. Such people will have to cut down calorie intake by 730-750 calories per day, i.e., go on a diet and increase physical activity. Foods and drinks that are high in fat or sugar can contain lots of calories, and eating or drinking these often or in large amounts can make it easy to have more calories than you need.


Vegetarianism is the practice of abstaining from the consumption of meat (red meat, poultry, seafood and the flesh of any other animal), and may also include abstention from by-products of animal slaughter. Vegetarianism can be adopted for different reasons. Many object to eating meat out of respect for sentient life. Other causes for vegetarianism are health-related, political, environmental, cultural, aesthetic or economic. Some people, while not vegetarians, refuse to eat the flesh of certain animals due to cultural taboo, such as cats, dogs, or horses. Others support meat eating for scientific, nutritional, cultural and religious reasons.

Various ethical reasons have been suggested for choosing vegetarianism, usually based on the interests of non-human animals. Proponents of animal rights argue that if alternative means of survival exist, one ought to choose the option that does not cause unnecessary harm to animals. Most ethical vegetarians argue that the same reasons exist against killing animals to eat as against cannibalism. Interestingly, the number of people turning to vegetarianism is on the increase, though on a scaled fashion.

While animal products are the common sources of protein in the typical western diet, are burgers or steaks really needed to experience a healthy and nutritive vegetarian protein diet? One of the most vexing issues facing new vegetarians is the apprehension that they will not have enough protein in their diet. When animal products are removed from the diet, creativity with regards to food selection is necessary in order to consume healthy levels of protein.

Can’t do without hamburgers? Make a scrumptious veggie burger and have a go with a large side salad. Like pizza? Make it yourself with soy cheese and load up on the vegetables. Like chicken nuggets? Have soy nuggets instead. Stuff green peppers with a rice and veggie blend. Bake and enjoy. Like sweets? Baked apples drizzled in cinnamon and agave are superb.

There are a number of vegetarian diets, each with its own singularities:

  • Ovo vegetarianism includes eggs but not dairy products.
  • Lacto vegetarianism includes dairy products but not eggs.
  • Ovo-lacto vegetarianism (or lacto-ovo vegetarianism) includes animal/dairy products such as eggs, milk, and honey.
  • Veganism excludes all animal flesh and products, such as milk, honey, and eggs, as well as items refined or manufactured through any such product, such as bone-char refined white sugar or animal-tested baking soda.
  • Raw veganism includes only fresh and uncooked fruit, nuts, seeds, and vegetables. Vegetables can only be cooked up to a certain temperature.
  • Sattvic or Yogic diet, a plant based diet which may also include dairy (not eggs) and honey, but excludes anything from the onion or leek family, red lentils, durian fruit, mushrooms, blue cheeses, fermented foods or sauces, alcoholic drinks and often also excludes coffee, black or green tea, chocolate, nutmeg or any other type of stimulant such as sharp spices or condiments.
  • Buddhist vegetarianism. Different Buddhist traditions have differing teachings on diet, which may also vary for ordained monks and nuns compared to others. Many interpret the precept ‘not to kill’ to require abstinence from meat, but not all. In Taiwan, su vegetarianism excludes not only all animal products but also vegetables in the allium family (which have the characteristic aroma of onion and garlic): onion, garlic, scallions, leeks, chives, or shallots.
  • Jain vegetarianism includes dairy but excludes eggs and honey, as well as root vegetables like onion, garlic, scallions, leeks, chives, or shallots.

Health Characteristics of a Vegetarian Diet

A well planned vegetarian diet has been proved to provide nutritional adequacy as well as health benefits and preventing disease through all stages of life. Multiple studies have demonstrated that ischemic heart disease mortality was 30 percent lower among vegetarian men and 20 percent lower among vegetarian women than in non-vegetarians. This is because vegetarian diets offer lower levels of animal protein, saturated fat and cholesterol, and higher levels of carbohydrates, magnesium, potassium, fiber, folate, and crucial antioxidants like vitamins C and E as well as phytochemicals. The distinction between genders is not explained.

Vegetarians tend to have lower BMI, lower levels of total and LDL cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and lower incidence of cardiac diseases, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, obesity, renal disease, metabolic failures, brain damage or dementias such as Alzheimer’s and other neuro disorders. They have fewer cases of cancers of the esophagus, lungs, colon and the liver. However, mortality rates from stomach cancer, cerebrovascular disease, colorectal cancer, prostate or breast cancer are the same for vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Vegetarians went into depression at a lower rate and had better mood profiles. They were also less prone to osteoporosis, as they had greater bone mineral density and better bone formation.

Getting Adequate Nutrition As a Vegetarian or a Vegan

The more restrictive your diet, the more difficult it can be to get all the nutrients you need, since no single food can provide all the nutrients you need. With a little forethought, research and planning, you can ensure that your diet includes all that your body needs. Pay heed to these nutrients:

  • Calcium: Calcium helps build and maintain strong teeth and bones, with milk and dairy foods very high in calcium. However, dark green vegetables, such as turnip and collard greens, kale and broccoli, are good plant sources when eaten in sufficient quantities. Calcium-enriched and fortified products, including juices, soy milk, soy yoghurt, cereals, and tofu, are other options.
  • Iodine: Iodine is a component in thyroid hormones, which help regulate metabolism, growth and function of key organs. Vegans are at risk here of iodine deficiency and goiter. Adding just 1/4 teaspoon of iodized salt provides a significant amount of iodine.
  • Iron: Iron (the non- industrial metal) is a crucial component of red blood cells. Dried beans and peas, lentils, enriched cereals, whole-grain products, dark leafy green vegetables and dried fruit are good sources of iron. But it is not easy to extract iron from vegetables, the intake of which doubles for vegetarians. Foods rich in vitamin C, such as strawberries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, cabbage and broccoli can act like catalysts.
  • Omega-3: Omega-3 fatty acids are important for heart health. Diets without fish and eggs are generally low in active forms of omega-3 fatty acids. Canola oil, soy oil, walnuts, ground flaxseed and soybeans, soy, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, kiwifruit, hempseed, algae, chia seed, flaxseed, echium seed and leafy vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, cabbage and purslane are good sources of essential fatty acids. Purslane contains more Omega 3 than any other known leafy green. Olives (and olive oil) are another important plant source of unsaturated fatty acids.
  • Protein: Proteins help maintain healthy skin, bones, muscles and organs. Eggs and dairy products are excellent sources of protein. Complete proteins are found primarily in animal products and contain all of the 20 amino acids needed by the body. Incomplete proteins which are found mostly in fruits, vegetables, beans and nuts, contain some, but not all of the amino acids. Therefore, the amino acids missing from some foods must be eaten in other foods in order to enjoy a complete protein diet. You can get sufficient protein from plant-based foods like soy products and meat substitutes, legumes, lentils, nuts, seeds and whole grains, if you eat a lot of them throughout the day. Soy is a rich source of total and complete protein .
  • Vitamins: Vitamin B-12 is necessary to produce red blood cells and prevent anemia and is found almost exclusively in animal products, so it can be difficult to get enough B-12 on a vegan diet. It is therefore important for vegans to consider vitamin supplements, vitamin-enriched cereals and fortified soy products.
    • Vitamin D has an important role in bone health and prevents rickets. Vitamin D is found in milk and dairy products. Increase sun exposure as its rays shine ultraviolet B light on the skin, promoting vitamin D generation and look for a vitamin D supplement derived from plants.
  • Zinc: Zinc is an essential component of many enzymes and plays a role in cell division and in formation of proteins. It is easily found in cheese, but difficult to absorb otherwise; plant sources of zinc include whole grains, soy products, legumes, nuts and wheat germ.

Nutritional Needs During Pregnancy And Breast Feeding

As a married woman, there comes a time when you want to become a mother. If you want a no-complications pregnancy and delivery, it’s a two way street. To optimize chances for a healthy pregnancy, a safe delivery and a healthy baby, you have to contribute your mite. You need to do some important things in preparation for conception.

Nutrition and Health Check Prior to Pregnancy

Visit your gynecologist: Get yourself thoroughly checked up. In your preconception checkup, your gynecologist will look through your individual and family medical history, your present health, and whether you are on any medications or supplements. This is essential as certain medications and supplements become unsafe for you or your fetus during pregnancy. You will have to switch before you conceive because they’re stored in your body’s fat and can linger there and need to fade away.

Your doctor will probably discuss the current ‘YOU’, i.e., your diet, weight, work schedule, exercise and detrimental habits you may have, like smoking and drinking and advise you accordingly. She’ll definitely prescribe folic acid for you. Intake of folic acid is crucial. Taking an adequate amount of folic acid (4-800 micrograms) a day for at least one month before you conceive and during your first trimester is essential. This amount varies with the structure of your body, i.e., height and BMI. It will cut your chances of having a baby with neural-tube defects such as spina bifida by 50 to 70 percent, apart from other birth defects.

Your days of binge drinking and smoking are over. Numerous studies the world over have shown that smoking or taking drugs can lead to miscarriage, premature birth, low-birth- weight babies or babies with congenital defects. Tobacco use can affect your fertility and lower your partner’s sperm count. Remember that traces of some drugs can stay within you even if there are no noticeable effects. Start now, before conception.

One drink a day is acceptable while you’re trying to conceive, but avoid binge drinking. Once pregnant, stop drinking altogether since no one is sure yet of potential harmful effects even small amounts of alcohol have on a developing baby. This is a test of will power-prove it. You can consult with counselors or join group programs to get rid of your bad habits.

You’re not ‘eating for two’ yet, but switch to nutritious food now so your body will be ready and fully stocked with the nutrients needed for a healthy pregnancy. Try and eat at least 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables every day, as well as plenty of whole grains and foods that are high in calcium – like milk, calcium-fortified orange juice, and yoghurt. Eat a variety of protein sources, such as beans, nuts, seeds, soy products, poultry, and meats. Try and avoid caffeine, as excessive caffeine has been tenuously linked to a risk of miscarriage.

You may have an easier time conceiving if you’re at a healthy weight. Having a low or high body mass index (BMI) makes it harder for some women to become pregnant. Their pregnancy and delivery will carry risks as well. A high BMI could entail pregnancy or delivery complications; a low BMI means underweight babies.

Pay more attention to the fish you eat. While fish is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids which are very important for your baby’s brain and eye development, protein, vitamin D, and other nutrients, it also contains mercury, which can be injurious. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that women of childbearing age not eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or tilefish, and eat no more than 6 ounces (one serving) of solid white canned tuna per week. Once pregnant, eat up to 12 oz (two servings) a week of fish that are not high in mercury. Good choices include herring, farm-raised rainbow trout, salmon, and sardines.

Start and stick to a fitness plan now, and you’ll be rewarded with a healthy body that’s fit for pregnancy. If you haven’t been exercising, ease into an exercise routine. Start with something tame, like walking 10 to 20 minutes a day. Add more activity into your daily routine by taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking your car a few blocks away from work. A healthy exercise program includes 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise, such as walking or cycling and weight training, on most days of the week. Try yoga. The gentle stretches can improve muscle tone and flexibility and help you to feel relaxed. Joining a class means you’ll meet other mums-to-be too! Once pregnant, avoid jogging, though it is not really harmful for the first four months. Walking for half an hour every day is fine.

Avoid infections when trying to get pregnant, especially those that could harm your baby-to-be. Desist from foods like unpasteurized soft cheeses and other dairy products, raw and under cooked poultry/fish and cold deli meats. These foods can harbor dangerous bacteria that cause listeriosis, a food-borne illness that can lead to miscarriage or stillbirth. You should also avoid unpasteurized juices because they can contain bacteria such as salmonella or E. coli.

Wash your hands frequently when preparing meals, and set your fridge between 35 and 40° degrees F (2 – 4° C) and your freezer is at or below 0° F (-18° C) to keep cold foods from going bad.

Hazards of use of recreational drugs during pregnancy:

Intake Affects Safety Limits
Alcohol Fetal alcohol syndromeFetal alcohol spectrum disorder Not established
Tobacco Wide range of behavioral, neurological, and physical difficulties Twice the risk of premature rupture of membranes, placental abruption and placenta previa 30% higher odds of premature birth Nil
Cocaine Premature birth, birth defects and attention deficit disorder Nil
Methamphetamine Premature birth and congenital abnormalitiesSmall deficits in infant neurobehavioral function and growth restrictionLong-term effects in brain development Nil
Cannabis Growth restriction and lower birth weightAbnormal responses or behaviors in the newborn period Nil

Chart 21

Nutrition for Pregnant Women

Pregnant women need to eat a nutritious diet to keep themselves and the developing baby healthy. The need for some nutrients like folic acid, iron and iodine increases during pregnancy, and folic acid and iodine supplements are recommended before and after conception. A varied diet that includes the right amount of healthy foods from the five food groups generally provides our bodies with enough of each vitamin and mineral each day. However, pregnant women may need supplements of particular vitamins or minerals. Consult your doctor before taking supplements.

Weight gain during pregnancy: Steady weight gain during pregnancy is normal and important for the health of the mother and baby. However, it is also important not to gain too much weight. As a pregnant woman, a good approach would be to eat to satisfy your appetite and continue to monitor your weight. For women who are at a healthy weight, it is advised that you gain between 11.5 and 16 kg (25-35 lb). Underweight women may need to gain more weight, between 12.5 and 18 kg (27-40 lb). Overweight women should not start dieting or try to shed weight. It is, however, recommended for women who are overweight to gain less weight during pregnancy, between 6.5 and 11.5 kg (15-25 lb). Obese women should gain 4.5-9 kg (10-20 lb).

To maintain appropriate weight gain during pregnancy, it is important to choose healthy foods from the five food groups, and limit discretionary foods and drinks high in saturated fat, added sugars and added salt, such as cakes, biscuits and sugary drinks.

Healthy Eating: It is important to choose a wide variety of healthy foods to make sure that the nutritional needs of both mother and baby are met. You can eat well during pregnancy by:

  • Enjoying a variety of fruits and vegetables of different types and colors.
  • Increasing your intake of grain and cereal foods a day. Choose mostly wholegrain and high fiber options.
  • Choosing foods that are high in iron, such as lean red meat or tofu. Iron-rich foods are important for pregnant women.
  • Making a habit of drinking milk, and eating hard cheese, fromage frais and yoghurt, or calcium-enriched alternatives. Reduced-fat varieties are best.
  • Drinking plenty of water (fluid needs are about 750 to 1, 000 ml extra per day).

Foods and drinks that are high in saturated fat, added sugar and salt are not a necessary part of a healthy diet and should be limited.

Focus On Essential Nutrients: Folic Acid and Iodine

Good sources of folic acid: Fortified cereals are great sources of folic acid. Leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, and dried beans and peas are good sources of naturally occurring folate.

Food Serving size Folic acid content
Cereal 3/4 cup (15 to 60 g) ready-to-eat cereal 100 to 700 mcg — choose a cereal that’s 100 percent fortified
Spinach 1/2 cup (95 g) boiled spinach 115 mcg
Beans 1/2 cup (88 g) boiled Great Northern beans 90 mcg
Asparagus 4 boiled spears (60 g) 89 mcg
Oranges 1 orange (150 g) 52 mcg
Peanuts 1 ounce (28 g) dry roasted 41 mcg

Chart 22


Iodine is an important mineral needed for the production of thyroid hormone, which is important for growth and development. Inadequate iodine intake during pregnancy increases the risk of mental impairment and cretinism in the newborn baby. Foods that are good sources of iodine include seafood and seaweed (including nori and kelp), eggs, meat and dairy products. Check the salt to see that it is iodized salt, which includes iodine. Avoid all other salts.

Calcium: You and your baby need calcium for strong bones and teeth. Calcium also helps your circulatory, muscular and nervous systems run normally. You need 1, 000 milligrams a day; pregnant teenagers need 1, 300 milligrams a day and good sources are dairy products, the best absorbed sources of calcium. Non-dairy sources include Sesame seeds, broccoli and kale. Many fruit juices and breakfast cereals fortified with calcium are also available.

Food Serving size Calcium content
Cereal 1 cup (20 to 60 g) calcium-fortified ready-to-eat cereal 3 to 1, 000 mg
Milk 1 cup (237 ml) skim milk 300 mg
Yogurt 6 oz. (170 g) low-fat fruit yogurt 235 mg
Cheese 1 oz. (28 g) part-skim mozzarella cheese 222 mg
Salmon 3 oz. (85 g) canned pink salmon with bones 181 mg
Spinach 1/2 cup (95 g) boiled spinach 145 mg
Juice 1 cup (237 mL) calcium-fortified orange juice 348 mg

Chart 23


Vitamin D: Vitamin D also helps build your baby’s bones and teeth. You need 600 international units (IU) a day and good sources are fatty fish, such as salmon, a great source of vitamin D. Other options include fortified milk and orange juice.

Food Serving size Vitamin D content
Fish 3 oz. (85 g) cooked sockeye salmon 447 IU
Juice 8 oz. (237 mL) calcium- and vitamin D-fortified orange juice 100 IU
Milk 1 cup (237 mL) skim milk 115 IU
Eggs 1 large hard-boiled egg (50 g) 44 IU

Chart 24


Protein is crucial for your baby’s growth, especially during the second and third trimesters. You need 71 grams a day and good sources are lean meat, poultry, fish and eggs. Other options include dried beans and peas, tofu, dairy products, and peanut butter.

Food Serving size Protein content
Cottage cheese 1 cup (226 g) low-fat, 1% milk cottage cheese 28 g
Poultry 3 oz. (86 g) boneless, skinless grilled chicken breast 26 g
Fish 3 oz. (85 g) canned pink salmon with bones 16.8 g
Lentils 1/2 cup (99 g) boiled lentils 8.9 g
Milk 1 cup (237 ml) skim milk 8.3 g
Peanut butter 2 T (32 g) smooth, vitamin- and mineral-fortified peanut butter 8.2 g
Eggs 1 large hard-boiled egg (50 g) 6.3 g

Chart 25


Iron: Your body uses iron to make hemoglobin, a protein in the red blood cells that carries oxygen to your tissues. During pregnancy your blood volume expands to accommodate changes in your body and help your baby make his or her entire blood supply — doubling your need for iron. If you don’t get enough iron, you might become fatigued and more prone to infections. The risk of preterm delivery and low birth weight also might be higher. You need 27 milligrams a day and good sources are lean red meat, poultry and fish. Other options include iron-fortified breakfast cereals, beans and vegetables.

Food Serving size Iron content
Cereal 3/4 cup (15 to 60 g) 100 percent iron-fortified quick oats 29.7 mg
Beans 1/2 cup (88.5 g) boiled kidney beans 2.9 mg
Spinach 1/2 cup (95 g) boiled spinach 1.9 mg
Meat 3 oz. (85 g) roasted lean beef tenderloin 2.6 mg
Poultry 3 oz. (85 g) roasted dark turkey 0.9 mg

Chart 26


Prenatal vitamins typically contain iron. In some cases, your health care provider might recommend a separate iron supplement. The iron from animal products, such as meat, is most easily absorbed. To enhance the absorption of iron from plant sources and supplements, pair them with a food or drink high in vitamin C — such as orange juice, strawberries or tomato juice. If you take iron supplements with orange juice, avoid the calcium-fortified variety. Although calcium is essential during pregnancy, it can cause a decrease in iron absorption.

If you were to look for a diet supplementary pill in isolation, it should have the following:

  • 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid.
  • 400 IU of vitamin D.
  • 200 to 300 milligrams (mg) of calcium.
  • 70 mg of vitamin C.
  • 3 mg of thiamine.
  • 2 mg of riboflavin.
  • 20 mg of niacin.
  • 6 mcg of vitamin B12.
  • 10 mg of vitamin E.
  • 15 mg of zinc.
  • 17 mg of iron.
  • 150 micrograms of iodine

It must be cleared by your doctor.

No Need to Eat For Two When Pregnant

During pregnancy, both you and your growing baby need extra nutrients, so eating healthy foods from the five food groups is important. Your body becomes more efficient when you’re pregnant, and makes even better use of the energy you get from your food. During the first trimester, a woman’s energy intake should remain about the same as it was prior to the pregnancy, which means that extra food is not required.

During the second and third trimester, your energy needs of pregnant women will increase. It is recommended that you increase your intake of grain foods by 15 percent per day and lean meats and alternatives by 25 percent per day. You could try a wholegrain sandwich with fillings such as roast beef, hard-boiled egg, tinned fish, hummus, a small bowl of pasta with meat or bean sauce or a small bowl of stir-fried rice with tofu. Options are a slice of wholemeal toast with a small can of baked beans; a toasted pitta bread with two tablespoons of reduced-fat hummus; a slice of malt loaf or fruit scone with butter or spread one slice of cheese on toast.

Your appetite is your best guide of how much food you need to eat. You may find your appetite fluctuates throughout your pregnancy. In the first few weeks your appetite may fall away dramatically and you may not feel like eating proper meals, especially if you have nausea or sickness. During the middle part of your pregnancy your appetite may be the same as before you were pregnant or slightly increased. Towards the end of your pregnancy your appetite will probably increase. If you suffer from heartburn or a full feeling after eating you may find it helpful to have small, frequent meals. The best rule to remember is to eat when you are hungry. Have a good balance of foods every day and you will gain weight steadily as your baby grows.

Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

There are some foods that you must avoid during pregnancy, because they could be unsafe for your baby:

  • Cheese with a white, mouldy rind, such as brie and camembert, and blue-veined cheeses such as roquefort. All these could contain listeria, a bacteria that could harm your baby.
  • Pate, and raw or under cooked meat and eggs. All are possible sources of bacteria that can harm your unborn baby. When cooking meat and eggs, make sure they are cooked properly.
  • Raw seafood, such as oysters and sushi.
  • Shark, swordfish or marlin. These fish contain unsafe levels of naturally occurring mercury. Tuna contains some mercury too, so it’s best you don’t eat more than four medium-sized cans, or two fresh tuna steaks per week.
  • Don’t eat liver and liver products (such as pate or liver sausage), because they may contain large amounts of the retinol form of vitamin A. Too much of this could be harmful to your developing baby.
  • Give alcohol a miss, if only for your baby.

Trimester-wise Pregnancy Meal Plans

A list of 12 meal plans has been prepared to help you have a healthy pregnancy. There are four planners for each trimester, giving you lots of choice. Each planner features a variety of delicious dishes and handy tips that are just right for you at your stage of pregnancy. You can get a fair idea of what is required of you.

Diet for a Healthy Breast Feeding Mother

As a mother, breast feeding is a normal stage in your reproductive life, where all your diet needs to be is healthy, balanced, and adequate. Breast feeding usually gives you a big appetite. The best diet for a breast feeding mother is a healthy diet as described all along, with a small rider. You do need extra calories and the quantity depends on your constitution, how much body fat you have and how active you are. If you were in good shape before pregnancy, you should eat about 200 calories more than what you ate during pregnancy and these calories, as always, should come from nutritious foods.

You would have probably gained 11.5 and 16 kg (25-35 lb) during the term and lost about 6-7 kg during delivery and the immediate post-partum days. The extra weight you retain is partly consumed in creating milk. You will usually lose 0.5-1 kg per week (1 to 2 pounds) which is a good rate, counterbalanced partly by your increased calorie intake. You should start moderate exercise about six weeks after delivery and get your figure to perhaps a couple of kg heavier than where it was. These extra kg will disappear naturally as you continue breast feeding. If you want and get your hourglass figure back at the earliest, you will join the cohorts of those mothers who do not breast feed their babies beyond a month or so.




Vitamin C

Eat two to three servings of protein each day. A serving is equal to 3 to 4 oz of meat, fish or poultry. Your best sources are: A good daily intake of calcium for breast-feeding mothers is 1, 300 mg per day. One cup of milk or yogurt contains 300 milligrams of calcium. Your attending doctor will advise you best, looking at you regularly. If you are 18 or younger, you should get 10 mg of iron per day. 19 year olds or older need 9 mg. Your limitation on mercury tainted fish stays. You need slightly more vitamin C than during pregnancy. If you are 18 or younger, you need 115 mg of vitamin C per day. If over 19, you need 120 mg per day.
Lean meat Milk Lean meat Citrus fruits
Poultry Yogurt Poultry Broccoli
Seafood Hard cheese Seafood Cantaloupe
Eggs Calcium-fortified orange juice Dried beans Potato
Cheese Calcium-fortified tofu Dried fruit Bell pepper
Milk and yogurt Tomato
Cottage cheese Kiwi
Tofu Cauliflower
Dried beans Cabbage

Chart 27


  • Vitamins and Minerals: Breast-feeding mothers need to take some sort of daily multivitamin that contains 100 percent of the recommended dietary allowance. You can continue with your prenatal vitamin or mineral supplement, but reduce iron by half. Ensure that it contains 10 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin D, since breastfed babies get vitamin D from breast milk. However, if you didn’t take a vitamin D supplement in pregnancy and are breastfeeding, your baby may need to have daily vitamin D drops from when he’s a month old.
  • Liquids: While breast-feeding you should have a glass of water each time you nurse your baby. That should bring your total water intake to 8 cups of water each day. In addition to water, other good liquids are juice, milk, broths, herbal teas and soups. Exercise and high temperatures will increase your need for liquids. Therefore, drink even more water if you are active or it is hot. Limit caffeinated foods and beverages, such as coffee and tea to two cups a day.
  • Vegetarian mothers: If you are a vegetarian mother, you need to include vitamin B12 in your diet in some way. Many vegetarians use a supplement for their vitamin B12 intake. Research has shown that milk produced by vegetarian women has lower levels of environmental contaminants than that of other women. These substances are stored principally in the fatty tissues of the body, and vegetarian diets tend to contain less fats than diets with more animal products. Check with your doctor first.
  • Weaning your baby: It’s best to give your baby nothing but breast milk for the first six months of her life. After that, you can start to give her different foods, as well as breast milk, gradually reducing her dependency on your milk. In another 4-6 months, she’ll be getting all the nutrients she needs from food. So this is when you can stop breastfeeding altogether. This is called weaning your baby from your breast. You can phase out breastfeeding before your baby is a year old, but you’ll need to give her formula milk instead. You can combine breast milk and formula as you ease your baby through the transition.
  • Others: It is difficult to overfeed your baby with breast milk as they stop sucking when full. The linked video gives some tips. Avoid drinking alcohol and smoking. Alcohol passes through your breast milk to your baby. Drinking more than 125 ml a day while you are breastfeeding may reduce your milk supply, and even affect your baby’s development.

Safe Practices for Formula Feeding

Baby formula is available in three forms: ready-to-feed, concentrated liquid and powder. Ready-to-feed is used “as is.” Concentrated liquid and powder must be mixed with water according to instructions on the label. Ready-to-feed and concentrated liquid baby formulas are commercially sterile; powdered formulas are not. When your baby starts eating solid foods, neither breastfeeding nor infant formula should be discontinued during the first year of life.

Since many types of formula are available in the market, so get advice. First, ask your Doctor for a recommendation and discuss it. Read and follow the instructions on the label. Infants have a higher rate of many foodborne illnesses than adults. It takes less bacteria (germs) to make an infant, with a low immunity system, sick than it does for an adult.

Making Powdered Formula

  1. Wash your hands with water and soap.
  2. Measure the amount of water needed to mix formula properly.
  3. If using tap water, heat water to 65°C/149°F for at least one minute.
  4. Otherwise, use sterile bottled water. Not all bottled water is sterile. It will be stated the label.
  5. Let water cool; you do not want to scald your baby. Also, formula can clump together if added to hot water.
  6. Measure and mix powder with water. Always follow measurement instructions on formula label.
  7. Make sure the milk is cool. Burns are very painful and stressful for your baby.
  8. Transfer mixed formula to a clean, sanitized bottle.
  9. You are ready to feed your infant!
  10. Discard any formula left at room temperature for longer than 2 hours.

Note 1: Do NOT store leftover formula from a feeding—always discard formula left in the bottle after two hours.

2. Wash baby bottles with hot soapy water and rinse with hot water or wash baby bottles in a dishwasher. Bottles and nipples can also be boiled to sterilize them before use. Bottles should always be clean before you reuse them.

Nutrition for the Preschool Years

Ages 2 through 5, or the early childhood years, are your baby’s preschool years. Preschoolers grow quickly—both physically and cognitively. Your short chubby toddler who could barely talk quickly becomes a taller, leaner child who talks seventeen to the dozen. During early childhood, development is integrated, with social, biological and psychological changes occurring in this period being interrelated.

  • Physical changes: In these years, a child becomes stronger and starts to look longer and leaner. As the child’s trunk and limbs grow longer, the abdominal muscles form, tightening the appearance of the stomach. Even at this early stage of life, boys tend to have more muscle mass than girls.
  • Cognitive development: At this stage, children become able to think and reason. They learn their letters, numbers and colors. Development of the brain and nervous system is dramatic. Most of a child’s neurons, or cells that make up nerves, form prenatally. Other cells nourish and insulate the neurons develop very rapidly, starting during infancy and continuing through these years, increasing the efficiency of your child’s neurons rapidly.Encourage safe exploration and offer a variety of things to play with, read, create, and build, ensuring that basic measures are in place to minimize risks. Children who are curious enough to explore learn to master new skills and solve problems. It is crucial at this juncture to instill a sense of security, laying the foundation for learning, social skills, adaptability, and emotional development. Your child is more likely to feel safe and secure if you are dependable, consistent and responsive and will respond by showing strong attachment to you.
  • Motor skills: Motor skills are physical abilities. Gross motor skills, like running, jumping, skipping, hopping, throwing, balancing, turning, dressing /undressing themselves and dancing require large bodily movements. Fine motor skills, like tying shoelaces, writing, drawing and holding a pencil correctly call for small body movements.
  • Emotional and social development: In this period, children slowly learn how to manage their feelings. Provide peer contact. Playing with other children gives your child opportunities to practice and develop important social, emotional, and language skills. Be patient during this phase of behavioral and emotional struggles of your child who is confused by external inputs from new associations. Guide your child by modeling and teaching proper behavior. Encourage your child to think about the feelings of other people to develop empathy. Help your child build self-esteem using positive strokes. He will display these characteristics:
    • Seek out same-sex friends
    • Prefer children over adults
    • Enjoy performing for others
    • Whisper and has secrets
    • Respond to blame and praise
    • Can be bossy
    • Becomes competitive
    • Enjoy helping at home, with tasks such as watering plants, picking up toys.
  • Language: By age 2, most children can say at least 50 words. By 5, a child may know 3-400 hundred words and carry on conversations or tell stories. Read to your child at every age, exposing your child to the sounds and rhythm of language. Help your child talk with others. Listening to and talking with other children and adults helps a child to understand and use language.
  • Kindergarten: Most children start kindergarten at 4½-5 years. If your child is normal, can interact with other children, follow directions, recite the alphabet and the numbers 0 to 20, recognize errors in their order, write his/her first and last name with uppercase and lowercase letters, etc., he/she is ready for Kindergarten.

Parents definitely have only the best plans in mind when feeding their children. But today’s lifestyles are so busy that they don’t find enough time for buying groceries, planning a meal or cooking it. They are probably unaware of what healthy food is, its ingredients and how to cook them. They might rely on pre-cooked off the shelf foods as the datum for meals. For children, this is a learning curve and they tend to be choosy. Small wonder that our children aren’t eating the foods that are best for them.

Younger children tend to shy away from many foods. Children could be finicky about how their food tastes, its temperature and consistency. Getting kids to down their vegetables could really test your patience. Most kids love tasty foods that tend to be high calorie; these foods are inexpensive, freely available and most convenient to devour- ‘junk foods’.

You must demonstrate to your kids what healthy eating means, and eat at fixed mealtimes. If at all possible, take your kids along when shopping for food and preparing it. Children tend to accept healthy foods if offered regularly. Lead them to vegetables through fruits. Keep fresh fruit readily available and or place crunchy vegetables in your fridge. Recurring exposure to fresh crunchy vegetables may encourage your kids to try these new foods, particularly if they have been with you when you bought them. Ensure that you eat some new food and say you relish it a couple of times. As your child realizes you were eating something new and giving it a thumbs-up rating, she will relax and learn that eating something that is new and if it can happen to her mother, it’s obviously part of everyday life.

You could try a different approach to increase vegetables intake. Add the vegetables to familiar food. Add cooked or pureed vegetables to pasta sauce, boosting nutrition while decreasing overall calorie count. Add cooked vegetables to soups, stews, meat loaves and casseroles, increasing nutrition and overall flavor.

Proper snacking is okay for growing children, so add well-chosen snacks to keep up with nutritional needs. If snacking turns into sugary or salt laden empty-calorie foods, change to fruits, nuts, yogurt, vegetables or a low-fat pudding.

Beware of the “just one bite” syndrome. This approach may work with more open and compliant children; on the other hand, it may worsen the frame of mind of those who have an intense fear of new foods and textural sensitivities. With no pressure to eat or try new foods, children usually relax and start exploring more. When you see these signs of innate curiously in foods, gently encourage your child to try a tiny bit of everything you have on your plate. Be prepared to take “no” for an answer and back off immediately if the food is refused. Pressuring, bribing and threatening your child to try a new food will rebound on you.

Some other methods are listed below:

  • Remain calm. Even if you’re worried about a finicky eater, try to at least fake a carefree front. Make the dinner table one of your family’s happiest places.
  • Don’t allow snacks closer than two hours before dinner. A hungrier kid is more willing to try something new.
  • Don’t insist that they eat an entire serving.
  • A huge list of foods for kids and other related innovations are listed here.
  • Spin off proven favorites. Any time you have success with one item, replicate it somewhere else, e.g., turn pumpkin spice muffins into carrot spice muffins.

Healthy Snack Foods for Preschoolers

Snack Vegetable Fruit Grains Dairy Protein
Banana and yogurt banana low fat yogurt
Whole grain pita pocket with ricotta cheese and apple slices apple slices whole grain pita pocket low fat ricotta cheese
Trail mix dried fruit cereal nuts
Frozen yogurt on two graham crackers and add sliced banana sliced banana graham crackers low fat frozen yogurt
Low fat vanilla yogurt with crunchy granola and blueberries. blueberries crunchy granola low fat vanilla yogurt
Snack kebabs of low fat cheese and grapes on pretzel sticks. grapes low fat cheese
Waffle cone with cut-up fruit and low fat vanilla yogurt cut-up fruit waffle cone low fat vanilla yogurt Waffle cone with cut-up fruit and low fat vanilla yogurt
Flour tortilla with a slice of turkey or ham, low fat cheese and lettuce. lettuce flour tortilla low fat cheese turkey or ham
Dried cranberries and chopped walnuts in instant oatmeal. dried cranberries instant oatmeal chopped walnuts

Chart 28


Healthy foods to serve as mix and match: Mix and match to easily make a snack made up of at least two food groups.

Vegetable Group Fruit Group Grains Group Dairy Group Protein Group
Cucumbers sliced Sliced mango whole wheat bread low fat or skim milk edamame (soybean)
Celery sticks kiwi whole oats bread
Vanilla low fat yogurt sugar snap peas vanilla low fat yogurt sugar snap peas vanilla low fat yogurt
Carrots apples whole grain bagel mozzarella cheese leftover chicken
Lettuce handful of raisins stick pretzels low fat sliced cheese handful of nuts
Corn and peas strawberries crackers ricotta cheese cup soy butter
Cauliflower trees blackberries whole wheat pita string cheese tuna
Zucchini sticks cherries rice cakes ham slices

Chart 29

Feeding Your Preschooler – Age 4 to 5 Years

Nutrition during preschool years is important for kids’ growth and learning and to provide energy for high activity levels. Your preschooler is now able to feed him/herself and can try a wide variety of foods. Always offer different choices for your child to eat. Offer new textures, colors, and tastes. Make food appealing and fun for your child. Your child should be eating from each of the FIVE food groups: grains, vegetables, fruits, milk, and meat.

Grain Group Fruit and Vegetable Group Milk Group Meat Group Fat Group
6 servings each day or more 5 servings each day or more 3 servings each day or more 2 servings each day 3-4 servings each day
1 slice of bread ½ cup cooked, canned, or chopped raw ¾ cup milk or yogurt 1-3 tablespoons lean meat, chicken, fish 1 teaspoon margarine, butter, oils
4-6 crackers ½ – 1 small fruit/ vegetable ¾ ounce of cheese 4-5 tablespoons dry beans and peas
½ cup cooked rice, pasta, or cereal ½ cup juice 1 egg
½ bun, muffin, or bagel

Chart 30

What You Shouldn’t Feed Your Preschooler

  • Be careful with foods that may cause choking:

    • Slippery foods such as whole grapes; large pieces of meats, poultry, and hot dogs; candy and cough drops.
    • Small, hard foods such as nuts, seeds, popcorn, chips, pretzels, raw carrots, and raisins, dry flake cereal, raw celery, whole olives, cherries with pits, raw peas, raw peeled apple and pear slices, cherry tomatoes, hot dogs and whole kernel corn.
    • Sticky foods such as peanut butter and marshmallows.

Cut up foods into small pieces and watch your child while he or she is eating. Moreover, your child may have some food allergies, the most common being milk, eggs, peanuts and other nuts, soybeans, wheat, fish, and shellfish. Many children grow out of food allergies. If you think your child might have a food allergy, talk with your doctor to be sure.

How to Cope With Feeding a Fussy Eater

Fussy eating is a normal phase in your toddler’s development. It will get better with time. The first thing to remember is that you should not get anxious about mealtimes. Leave him/her be, your toddler will take in just enough calories for his own needs. Just ensure that your toddler’s diet is healthy, as it should be. And try not to fret too much about what your toddler eats at a single meal, or in a single day. Instead, think about what your toddler eats over a week. Moreover, if he feels hungry, he will let you know.

Many toddlers experience a fear of new foods, which makes them reluctant to try what looks like new foods to them. Most children experience this phobia around the age of two. Rest assured that it’s a phase that will pass. Your child needs time to understand that those strange foods on his plate are safe and good fun to eat. Watching you and others eating those foods will give him confidence. You should see to it that your toddler plays a lot and gets plenty of exercise. That will increase his appetite for food.

Make Mealtime a Family Time

Family meals allow your preschooler to focus on his food and give you a chance to display good eating behavior. Start eating meals together as a family when your kids are young. This way, it becomes a habit to get together over a meal. Focus on the meal and each other. Turn off the television and ban phone calls or texts for that period. Talk about fun and happy things. Try to make meals a stress-free time. Encourage your child to try foods. But, don’t lecture or force your child to eat. Let your difficult toddler see the fun and laughter at the table.

Involve your child in conversation. Ask questions not related to food, but to games and exercise. Have your child help you get ready to eat. Depending on age, your child may be able to help by turning off the TV and removing books and other irrelevant items away. He can later hand out napkins. Make him comfortable and ask if there is anything special he would like for say, dinner the next day. Offer new foods one at a time, and remember that children may need to try a new food 10-17 times before they accept it! Also, offer new foods at the start of meals when your child is more hungry. Give small portions. Toddlers can be overwhelmed by big platefuls and lose their appetite. If your toddler finishes his small portion, praise him and offer him more.

Offer finger foods as often as possible. Allow your toddler to touch his food, play with it if he wants to, and make a mess at mealtimes. Toddlers enjoy having the control of feeding themselves with finger foods. Work out a daily routine of meals and two or three snacks around your child’s daytime sleep pattern. Toddlers thrive on routine and knowing what to expect. Limit mealtimes to 30 minutes and wait for the next snack or meal and offer some nutritious foods then. Most toddlers eat whatever they are going to eat within the first 30 minutes.

Make food simple, plain, and recognizable. Enlist the support of your entire family and ask them to lay off your difficult toddler about his phobia but encourage him by example. Tell your elder child or husband to gasp when they see a dish that the picky kid is eyeing a dish disdainfully and go, “Oooh, my favorite. Thanks mom-hey please pass the bowl.” This video may help.

Food Safety Tips For Young Children

Out of every six Americans, one is sickened by food poisoning each year. What is not revealed is that out of these Americans who fall prey to food poisoning, less than five percent are first generation immigrants, particularly Asians and that less than 10 percent are second generation immigrants’ children. That simply shows that such immigrants have a higher immunity level.

Anyone can get food poisoning, but babies, toddlers and even preschoolers are at especially high risk and once they become infected, recovery can take time and give the sick children a hard time getting well. Infants and young children are most prone to food poisoning because their immune systems aren’t strong enough to fight foodborne infections. According to the CDC, very young children experience a higher rate of hospitalization due to foodborne infection than that of children over age 3. The solution is simple− handle and prepare food when feeding young children safely.

When feeding young children, always avoid:

  • Unpasteurized milk or any unpasteurized dairy products
  • Raw or partially cooked eggs or foods containing raw eggs
  • Raw or undercooked meat, poultry, fish or shellfish
  • Unpasteurized juices
  • Raw sprouts
  • Honey

Start solids at 4 to 6 months. Up until then, your baby’s digestive system can’t handle anything besides breast milk or formula. But don’t wait too much to start, or your baby may get addicted to her liquid diet and lose interest in learning how to chew and swallow solid foods. Avoid cereals in the bottle; your baby doesn’t need the extra calories that it adds to formula − unless your pediatrician advises it.


  • Always start with rice cereal; it’s unlikely to trigger an allergic reaction, but there’s no reason you can’t begin with other foods like pureed meat or applesauce.
  • Offer veggies before fruit. If you want to, offer fruit first. There’s no evidence that babies won’t like veggies if they’ve already had fruit.
  • Shy away from meat. Research shows that babies who eat meat earlier have a higher intake of zinc and iron, two nutrients important for growth. Start with pureed chicken.
  • Serve bland food. Babies should learn to enjoy plain fruits and veggies, but running mildly spicy ravioli through the baby food mill is okay too.

Never feed a baby food out of the jar because this method causes self-induced poisoning. Mild and safe bacteria from your baby’s spoon go into the jar, grow in the jar to poisonous strength and your baby is poisoned. Always decant baby food from the jar into a separate feeding dish and spoon feed from the clean dish.

Throw away all uneaten food from the dish. Cap and refrigerate (to 4°C/40°F or lower) open jars of baby food that you haven’t tainted with your child’s saliva. You can save opened strained fruits for two to three days, strained meats for one day and vegetable and meat combinations for two days.

Handling Child’s Foods During A Power Outage

During power outages, foods that are kept in the refrigerator or freezer can begin to spoil. If the food has begun to thaw but still has ice crystals (food temperature is at 4°C/40°F or below) than you can still refreeze it. In a long outage, foods may begin to spoil. Your nose and taste buds may not help you detect bad food and if there is a baby in the house, start discarding that food. The chart below is a handy aid.

Food Categories Specific Foods Still contains ice crystals and feels as cold as if refrigerated Thawed and held above 40 °F for over 2 hours
MEAT, POULTRY, SEAFOOD Beef, veal, lamb, pork, and ground meats Refreeze Discard
Poultry and ground poultry Refreeze Discard
Variety meats (liver, kidney, heart, chitterlings) Refreeze Discard
Casseroles, stews, soups Refreeze Discard
Fish, shellfish, breaded seafood products Refreeze. Expect some texture and flavor loss. Discard
DAIRY Milk Refreeze. May lose some texture. Discard
Eggs (out of shell) and egg products Refreeze Discard
Ice cream, frozen yogurt Discard Discard
Cheese (soft and semi-soft) Refreeze Discard
Hard cheeses Refreeze Refreeze
Shredded cheeses Discard Discard
Casseroles containing milk, cream, eggs, soft cheeses Refreeze Discard
Cheesecake Refreeze Discard
FRUITS Juices Refreeze Refreeze. Discard if mold, yeasty smell, or sliminess develops
Home or commercially packaged Refreeze. Will change texture and flavor Refreeze. Discard if mold, yeasty smell, or sliminess develops
VEGETABLES Juices Refreeze Discard after held above 40° F for 6 hours.
Home or commercially packaged or blanched Refreeze. May suffer texture and flavor loss Discard after held above 40° F for 6 hours
BREADS, PASTRIES Breads, rolls, muffins, cakes (without custard fillings) Refreeze Refreeze
Cakes, pies, pastries with custard or cheese filling Refreeze Discard
Pie crusts, commercial and homemade bread dough Refreeze. Some quality loss may occur Refreeze. Quality loss is considerable
OTHERS Casseroles – pasta, rice based Refreeze Discard
Flour, cornmeal, nuts Refreeze Discard
Breakfast items –waffles, pancakes, bagels Refreeze Discard
Frozen meal, entree, specialty items (pizza, sausage and biscuit, meat pie, convenience foods) Refreeze Discard

Chart 31

Holiday Diet – Have Fun During the Holidays

Keep the focus on fun, not food. Most holidays are associated with certain foods. Christmas at your house might not be the same without your aunt’s mixed bean casserole, but that doesn’t mean food has to be the main focus. Instead, enjoy the rituals a holiday brings, whether it’s caroling or tree trimming.

Modify your meal times to match with your relatives’. Do your in-laws’ meal schedules fly in the face of yours? Let’s say they are late risers and have breakfast at 10:30. Then they skip lunch and start Christmas ‘dinner’ at 5 pm. To keep yourself going, have an early-morning snack (such as a piece of whole-grain toast) before your relatives rise and shine. Their late breakfast then becomes your ‘real’ breakfast, plus some of your lunch. Enjoy the late meal in moderation and have a small snack around 8 pm.

Indulge in only the most special holiday treats. Skip the cookies at Christmas, but do sample treats that are homemade and special to your family, such as your wife’s special. Just don’t completely deprive yourself on festive days – your willpower will eventually snap, and you’ll end up overeating.

Stay physically active during the holidays. You will gain less weight over the years. A study conducted by the U.S. government found adults gained, on average, more than a pound of body weight during the winter holidays – and that they could not shed that weight the following year. People who reported the most physical activity through the holiday season showed the least weight gain. Some even managed to lose weight.

Stock the freezer with healthy meals. You’re going to be overly busy during the holidays, and you want to spend time shopping, decorating, or seeing friends and family, which leaves less time to cook healthy meals. Cooking those meals well ahead of time and stow them in the freezer. You’ll be thankful later when you suddenly find time.

If you and your kids are going out for a holiday party, then:

  • Feed your children – and yourself – a light meal or snack before going to a holiday party. It’s harder to avoid overeating when you’re overly hungry.
  • Set a good example for children by eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains with meals or as snacks.
  • Offer to bring a healthy, low-calorie dish to holiday parties so you’ll know that at least one healthy item will be available.
  • Teach your children to eat smaller portions of food, especially at a buffet, where they may want to try everything. Help them choose the items they want to try the most, and eat a small portion of each.
  • Sodas and other sweet drinks contain a lot of calories and many contain caffeine. For a healthier version of “soda” mix 100% fruit juice with club soda or seltzer.

Stay Safe While Preparing the Holiday Meals

The holiday season will be here before you know it, which means fancy foods and feasts, the mob of friends and family and shopping for all the food. Turkeys, hams, homemade salads and fruity desserts are all waiting to be whipped up and consumed. What you can least afford is food poisoning. It’s not only your kids that need safeguarding- it’s also you and the mob.

Practice safe food-handling habits every day and also during the holidays ensures a healthier celebration. The Institute of Food Technologists suggests:

  • When purchasing your holiday meal at the store, pick up your frozen turkey or ham last before checking out and driving home. As soon as you get home, put it in the freezer.
  • To thaw, never leave a frozen turkey on the counter, which leads to higher bacterial growth. Instead, place the covered turkey in a shallow pan on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator, or if time is limited, place the plastic-wrapped turkey in a pan of cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes until the bird thaws.
  • Never place the meat directly on the counter to avoid cross contamination. Clean and sanitize the counter, cutting boards and your hands while handling raw foods. Keep clean dishes and utensils on hand and do not reuse plates that were used for raw meats.
  • Use a separate thermometer to check the meat temperature, versus the pop-up thermometer included with the product. Thermometers are inexpensive and easy to use. When the temperature reaches a minimum of 74° C/165° F, the turkey should be done – or 63°C/145° F for beef veal and lamb, or 71° C/ 160° F for pork and ground meat. Make sure you sanitize and clean the end of the thermometer between uses.
  • Before serving, keep hot foods in the oven (set at 93°C/200° F to 121°C/ 250° F) or cold foods in the refrigerator until serving time to keep them at a safe temperature for a longer period of time.
  • Refrigerate leftovers immediately after the meal is finished. Any food sitting out at room temperature for more than two hours should be discarded. Separate leftovers into smaller containers, which allow the food to cool down more quickly and lessen the chance for bacteria to multiply.

If you have got so far, do you still think you’re leading a healthy lifestyle, apart from the occasional step across the line? Actually, very few adults actually meet the criteria for a healthy lifestyle according to an American study. Less than 10 percent of males made it to the tape and females scored slightly better than men.

Remember is that you and only you can change or make a difference in your physical and mental health and well-being. Take control of your life, and be mindful of small behavior changes that can make your lifestyle healthier.


This entry was posted in: Blog.