What are the components of a balanced diet at different life stages, and how does this contribute to an individual’s health?
The components of a basic diet do change through various stages of life. Infants, toddlers, teens, young adults, and mature adults all undergo biological changes which require different sets of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and the three basic, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Scientists and health experts are continuously doing research to assess the bodily needs at these stages. An example would be the amount of calcium in one's diet. In infancy, milk it is a major factor in growth and development and continues until full maturity is reached. As we age, we lose the body's ability to utilize calcium and an increased intake of calcium and Vitamin D is needed after the age of fifty to prevent osteoporosis, a condition characterized by depleting bone density. More intake of dairy products (low in fat) are recommended. By researching each component listed above one can see the different stages the body needs.
To set yourself up for success, think about planning a healthy diet as a number of small, manageable steps rather than one big drastic change. If you approach the changes gradually and with commitment, you will have a healthy diet sooner than you think.
- Simplify. Instead of being overly concerned with counting calories or measuring portion sizes, think of your diet in terms of color, variety, and freshness. This way it should be easier to make healthy choices. Focus on finding foods you love and easy recipes that incorporate a few fresh ingredients. Gradually, your diet will become healthier and more delicious.
- Start slow and make changes to your eating habits over time. Trying to make your diet healthy overnight isn’t realistic or smart. Changing everything at once usually leads to cheating or giving up on your new eating plan. Make small steps, like adding a salad (full of different color vegetables) to your diet once a day or switching from butter to olive oil when cooking. As your small changes become habit, you can continue to add more healthy choices to your diet.
- Every change you make to improve your diet matters. You don’t have to be perfect and you don’t have to completely eliminate foods you enjoy to have a healthy diet. The long term goal is to feel good, have more energy, and reduce the risk of cancer and disease. Don’t let your missteps derail you—every healthy food choice you make counts.