According to Macdonald (2009), nutrition entails the process which involves supplying living organisms with food or other necessary substances which help in sustaining life. Nutrition can also be defined as food nourishment which enables organisms to grow and be healthy.
Nutrition is essential to all living things and more so to human beings’ physical and social wellbeing. It is almost impossible for one to be totally healthy, but generally people strive to enhance their healthy status for the better (Sandra & Wendy, 2005). Healthy diets chosen by individuals vary from a person to another, with influence from various factors.
Factors That Influence Food Choices
People’s choice for food is based on their specific perception and specific food need in the body as it may be prescribed by a medical doctor or a nutritionist.
Among the major factors that influence the choice of food an individual makes includes people’s cultural perspectives, age of the person, gender, family, friends, preferences and tastes, emotional perceptions and attitudes as well as religious beliefs. Energy and other nutrient needs in one’s body also influence the choice of food an individual makes (Sandra & Wendy, 2005).
Use of Nutritional Information on Healthy Food Choice
Nutritional information is vital element which should be considered in making the best choice of healthy food for an individual’s body. Healthy diets must contain the required amounts of nutrients necessary for cushioning the body against nutritional deficits or excesses.
Nutritional information should therefore help a person get full knowledge on the kind of food to choose. This information should create some awareness to people concerning aspects like nutritional value, calorie content in the food as well as the ingredients used in production (Young Women, 2009).
Dietary recommendations can be prescribed by the producer or nutritionists, to suit specific body requirements for specific people. With this knowledge, a person can make a wise decision on what healthy food to choose, to suit his or her body needs/ requirements.
Whenever a person is faced with several food choices to make, the nutritional information and dietary recommendations about each food choice can help in determining the optimal best choice to make(USDA Report, 2000)..
Nutritional Value of Fast Foods
Fast foods are foods that quickly prepared, convenient to eat at any time, any where and are usually less expensive than other foods. Generally the nutritive value of majority of fast food is quite low since many fast foods have high concentrations of unsaturated fats, highly refined grains, high level of calories, high cholesterol levels and sodium (Young Women, 2009). Nutritionists argue that excessive consumption fast foods can be hazardous to the body.
However, healthier choices can be made when eating fast foods. One can choose to add a fruit or a vegetable to the meal if available, broiled foods can be preferred to fried foods or taking a lot of water or diet sodas instead of ordinary sodas and milk shakes (Young Women, 2009).
Organizing Food Groups in U.S. Food Guide
The main aim for US to use pyramid in its organization of food groups was to give a dietary recommendation regarding the proper mix of foods individuals need to eat, what capacity and at what age, in order to be healthy.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) altered the original horizontal format to adopt the pyramid with the main objective of creating awareness of healthy eating to the Americans. The foods at the base of the pyramids are emphasized as the core foods which should be included in almost every meal (USDA Report, 2000).
HHS, USDA Report. (2000, June 1). Nutrition and Your Health: Dietary Guidelines for American.
Macdonald, E. (2009).What is the Definition of Nutrition?
Sandra A. and Wendy, S. (2005). Essential Concepts for Healthy Living (5th Ed.). Adelaide: Crawford House.
Young Women’s Health Staff. (2009, June 2). Fast Food Facts: A Guide for Teens.