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Nutrition is a huge part of weight loss. If you combine nutrition and exercise your weight loss plan should be a success. However, most people usually decide to go either way, exercise or nutrition and it doesn’t always work out the way they want it. Nutrition dictates what every cell in the body needs to support life. A healthy diet with the proper nutrition cannot only prevent disease but can alleviate illnesses. This is why it is so important to eat a healthy diet. Some people think that when they are young they can eat whatever they want and they will eat healthy when they get older. This is the wrong kind of thinking. No matter what age, your diet can affect you at any time in your life. It can have an immediate affect by causing deficiencies, or it can lay dormant and cause diseases later on in your life such as cardiovascular disease.

 The number one cause of obesity in America is improper nutrition. People are consuming too many calories and not burning enough through daily activities. In today’s society it’s all about the easiest and fastest way to get something done and that includes what we eat. There are fast food restaurants on every corner that serve up greasy, high fat foods and you don’t even have to get out of your car to get it. Couple this with the fact that people don’t exercise and it causes obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and osteoporosis. Even people’s jobs now a days involve sedentary activity such as sitting at a desk staring at a computer for 8-10 hours a day. Then what do people do when they get home? Watch TV for 4-6 more hours. So where is the physical activity that will burn all of the additional calories? Nowhere in site. 

So we can see how important nutrition is and how it goes hand in hand with exercise. Now what is proper nutrition and how to achieve it? It is important to understand that you don’t have to give up all of the foods that you love to eat. However, to lose weight, prevent disease and alleviate any current symptoms you need to start making some changes.

 If you are currently on a diet of 3000 calories a day and eat anything you want and you switch to a diet of 1800 calories and you are very strict about what you can and cannot eat, you are probably going to give it up in a week. Getting proper nutrition doesn’t have to be about what you can and cannot eat, it’s about adjusting your current nutrition to get you to better health.  If you go to a nutritionist or a personal trainer that is going to talk to you about nutrition they will more than likely have you write down everything you eat in a week to determine where are at now and how to proceed to where you are going. It also gives you a rough average of how many calories you are eating in a day.

Food journaling is a great way to keep track of the foods and calories you are eating. Also writing down what you eat gives most people a sense of responsibility for what they eat and for the weight they have put on. The average amount of calories to consume in a day is 1200-1800 depending upon gender. Depending upon where you are at initially will determine how far you want to reduce your calories. Drastic changes in lifestyle, calories or food you eat are never good because 9 times out of 10 the person won’t stick to it. Not to mention when you reduce calorie intake, the body is going to notice the change and will continue to expect the old amount of calories. This can become a burden on a person because the body is saying I’m hungry give me more food and you may crave something high fat or sugary but you can’t have it if you are going to keep on your nutritional plan.

Ultimately a person will break down which can cause a backwards spiral to high fat, high sugar foods.  I’m sure you know there are thousands of diet plans on the market that recommend one of the following low-fat, low-carbohydrate, low-calorie and very low calorie. A healthy nutrition plan doesn’t have to be any one of these. A healthy diet involves consuming the appropriate amounts of all nutrients in addition to a healthy amount of water. This brings us back to the food pyramid. The US department of Agriculture has provided for us over the years a chart of what food groups and how much of each food group we should eat. This gives us the primary basis for setting up our nutritional plan.

The largest food group that we need to consume is grains. This includes any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley or another cereal grain. Bread, pasta, oatmeal, breakfast cereals, tortillas, and grits are examples of grain products. It is recommended that at least half of the allowed amounts be eaten in whole grain form because it is high in fiber, where as enriched grains the fiber is processed out. Daily amounts consist of 6-8 ounces; with 1 slice of bread or 1/2 cup of cooked rice or 1/2 cup cooked pasta equals 1 ounce. Almost as large is the vegetable category. This includes raw or cooked; fresh or frozen, canned, or dried/dehydrated; and may be whole, cut-up, or mashed vegetables. The recommended daily amounts are 2-3 cups. Not quite as large but still very important is the fruit category. Fruits may be fresh, canned, frozen, or dried, and may be whole, cut-up, or pureed. The recommended daily amounts are 1 1/2 & 2cups. Meats and beans include all foods made from meat, poultry, fish, dry beans or peas, eggs, nuts, and seeds. Meats and poultry should be lean or low fat. Daily limits are 5-6 ounces. The milk, yogurt, and cheese group includes foods made from milk that retain their calcium content. Choices from this group should be fat-free or low fat. Daily recommendations are 3 cups. The last group is oils. Oils are fats that are liquid at room temperature. Oils should be limited to 5-6 teaspoons daily since people consume enough oil through their food anyway. This is a good outline of what types of foods should be eaten, and how much should be eaten daily.

 For ideas on what types of foods you can eat in each category check out the US Department of Agriculture website. The next time you go to the grocery store make a list of these foods so that way you can keep your nutritional plan on track. Also remember to keep your food journal. Its ok to go over your calories a little bit every once in a while but try to stay within your limit and this will ensure you are getting your proper nutrients and losing weight.