Nutrition an important consideration

Mary Ann Lienhart-Cross writes about food.
Posted on Feb. 4, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.

Mary Ann Lienhart-Cross

Food & Nutrition

Most of us enjoy food and enjoy preparing food and sharing with family, friends and co-workers. I know many people talk about food celebrations that start with Halloween and keep going through to Super Bowl Sunday. As I type this, the Super Bowl hasn’t happened yet, but I know for a fact many of you know what you are preparing and serving guests, and many of you have special Super Bowl foods that you are looking forward to eating.

If you have been waiting till the last of the national holidays to get back to healthier eating, I can’t type that the food parties are over. Yes I know there is President’s Day with cherry pie, Valentine’s Day with chocolate and St. Patrick’s Day. However, it is time for taking care of your body and health.

If you’re like me, you learned your eating habits from your parents, and they learned their eating habits from their parents, your grandparents. Many of our great-grandparents were seasonal eaters; that is, in the winter months they ate root vegetables that were stored in the root cellar. The meat they ate was determined by what they had preserved through drying, canning or freezing. The consumption of white flour, sugar, fat, baked goods, and processed foods was very small compared to today.

There have been so many changes with people, families, lifestyles and activities, and most of these changes have provided the opportunity for people to eat more. Along with those changes, think about the changes in the kitchen with food preparation, food in general and how convenient food is. I am sure you would agree that people are eating more, there is more food available, food is easier to cook and prepare, and many people are eating out more.

Most of us just eat what we like and enjoy it; we don’t necessarily think about what our bodies need. A question to ask yourself when it comes to how you’re feeling is, “How are my eating habits?” or, “How are my family’s eating habits?” Remember, what you eat determines how you feel, how healthy you are, and how your body works. Another difference in our lifestyle compared to our ancestors’ is that we tend to do less physical work. So, the amount of food most of us need has changed. We also have a lot more information about food, such as the science of what the body needs to function at its best.

Here is the lesson in the column: nutrition is the study of what food is made of and how our bodies use it. Nutrients are the chemical compounds found in foods that serve specific functions in the body. These nutrients are classified as carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, and water. Each food is made up of many different nutrients in various amounts and combinations. When you eat food, the digestion process breaks the food down and allows the individual nutrients to be absorbed in your bloodstream.

Next week I will write with more information on healthy eating. In the meantime I hope I have made you want more nutrition information. Visit www.MyPlate.org and please make sure to eat your vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and low-fat dairy; if you are like most Americans you get enough of the protein group. Prepare and enjoy good food with family and friends.

Mary Ann Lienhart-Cross is an Extension educator in consumer family science. Write to her at 17746 E. C.R. 34, Goshen, IN 46528; call 533-0554; fax 533-0254; or email lienhart@purdue.edu.


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