Healthy Eating – from Infancy to Adulthood
Today, non communicable chronic disease is the leading cause of death in the world. Dietary intervention plays an important role in prevention and management of these diseases, such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.
Healthy eating habits from infancy are essential for preventing childhood obesity and overweight in unhealthy adults. Studies reveal links between feeding infants sugary foods and childhood obesity, and it has been found that infants introduced to fruits and vegetables develop an enduring taste for healthy produce. On the contrary, it was found that babies who were fed sweetened drinks were twice as likely to drink them at least once a day at age 6.
Here are 5 simple strategies to balance your family’s diet & nutrition:
1. Use the Healthy Diet Pyramid
Eat a variety of food, in moderation in the right balance. The healthy diet pyramid consists of the 4 essential food groups. There is a range of recommended servings to suit individual needs dependent on activity level.
2. Eat enough grains
Bread, rice, noodles, and pasta are a great source of complex carbohydrates and form the body’s preferred fuel source for maintaining physical as well as mental activities. BUT dont forget to include whole grains such as oats, wholewheat/brown bread, rice, and pasta as these are packed with more fiber, nutrients and vitamins. Half your grain serving should be wholegrains.
3. Include fruits and vegetables
They add colour, texture and flavour to your diet as well as being naturally low in fat and rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber. Don’t overcook vegetables and go for whole fruits rather than juicing. Beyond the greens, add more colour to your life with reds, purples, orange vegetables. The natural pigments in fruits and vegetables have a protective, antioxidant effect against many diseases such as heart disease and cancer.
4. Get sufficient protein
The third level of the food pyramid is protein packed food such as fish, meat, poultry, eggs, dairy (milk & yogurt, cheese), lentils, legumes, nuts, and seeds. These are essential for muscle and bone building as well as for healthy cell activity. Select lean cuts and meats of low fat variety. Also don’t forget calcium to strengthen bones and teeth and for reducing the osteoporosis risk. Good sources of calcium include dairy, anchovies, sardines, tofu & green leafy vegetables.
5. Cut down on saturated fat, salt & sugar
While fat is essential for absorption of vitamins A, D, E, K, choose healthier unsaturated fats and skip trans fat from deep fried food, cakes, and pastries. Instead, season food with fresh herbs and spices.
Our needs vary during the different stages of our lives so balance your intake with an active lifestyle.