Having a healthy diet is sometimes easier said than done. It is tempting to turn to less healthy food choices because they might be easy to get or prepare, or they satisfy a craving. Between family and work or school, you are probably balancing a hundred things at once. Taking time to buy the ingredients for and cooking a healthy meal sometimes falls last on your list. But you should know that it isn't hard to make simple changes to improve your diet. And you can make sense of the mounds of nutrition information out there. A little learning and planning can help you find a diet to fit your lifestyle, and maybe you can have some fun in the process!
Obesity in women is on the rise. Overall, about one third of all women are obese. But some groups of women suffer more. Half of African American women and 40 percent of Mexican American women are obese. Native Hawaiian and Samoan women are among the most obese in the world. Obesity is measured with a body mass index (BMI), which shows the relationship of weight to height. As a woman's body mass increases, so does her risk for serious health problems. Some of these problems include heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and some cancers. A woman's weight is affected by how much physical activity she does, her diet, and her genes. So having a healthy diet is one of the most important things you can do to help your overall health. If you burn as many calories as you take in, your weight remains the same. If you take in fewer calories than you burn, you will lose weight. So make sure the foods you eat are healthy ones that will work hard for your body.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) release Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The Food Guide Pyramid shows how different food groups can come together to form your total diet. Eating is one of life's greatest pleasures. Because there are many foods and many ways to build a healthy diet, there is lots of room for smart, healthy choices. You can use the pyramid as a starting point. Choose the recommended number of daily servings from each of the five major food groups.
You might have seen some of the other food pyramids by other groups of health care providers, or pyramids for different ethnic groups, like the Puerto Rican, "Soul Food," Vegetarian style, or Latin American style pyramids. You could use any one of them for healthy eating, depending on what kinds of food are available to you and your culture's traditions. For more, please read the "2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans: Key Recommendations for the General Population" article.
Basic Steps to a Healthy Diet
Although there are different food pyramids for you to choose from, the challenge is to pick one, then create an eating plan that embraces healthy food. No matter which specific diet or pyramid you choose, the basic steps to good nutrition come from a diet that:
There are different kinds of fats in our foods. Some can hurt our health, while others aren't so bad! Some are even good for you! Here's what you need to know:
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