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Royal Academy of Nutrition and Health Eating

12. Cost, Time, and Convenience

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, almost 15 percent of American households experienced food insecurity in 2008. That is, the people living in these  households are not able to meet their nutrient needs every day (you'll learn more about hunger and food insecurity later.

It's not surprising, then, that many people may be forced to base their food choices on cost. The large, store-brand bag of potato chips, on sale, may be an economically appealing way for a struggling family on a tight budget to fill a dinner plate, rather than with more nutritious fresh or frozen vegetables, which tend to cost more.

The good news is that cheaper food doesn't have to always mean junk food or fast food. When healthy foods are offered at lower prices, people do buy them. Researchers found that lowering the cost of fresh fruits, vegetables, and lower-fat snacks improves the consumption of these nutritious foods.

For those with adequate food budgets, time is often at a premium. Because of this, the types of foods that many people choose have changed. Research shows that Americans, especially working women with families, want to spend less than 15 minutes preparing a meal.

Consequently, supermarkets have changed the types of foods they sell as well as how the food is presented. If chicken is on the menu tonight, you can go to the poultry section in the store and buy it uncooked. Or you can go to the take-out section of the store and buy it hot off the rotisserie, precooked and stuffed with bread crumbs, or grilled with teriyaki sauce.

You can also probably get the cooked vegetables and rice side dishes to take home and reheat with the chicken. Convenience also influences food choices. Foods that are easily accessible to you are more likely to be eaten. Let's say you have a long walk back to your dorm building after your last class of the day.

On the way, you pass a food stand selling slices of delicious-looking pizza. The wonderful smell reminds you that you are hungry, so you buy a slice, or two. Or consider coffee. Decades ago, the most convenient way to get a hot cup of coffee was to brew it yourself. Americans today are more likely to get their java from one of the 17,000 coffee shops, carts, and kiosks across the United States. Pizza and coffee are just two examples of a broad trend of Americans spending more of their household food budget on eating out.


13. Habits and Emotions

Many people start their day with a bowl of cereal and a glass of orange juice. In fact, ready-to-eat cereals are the number-one breakfast food choice among Americans, and citrus juice is the top juice choice for most people in the morning. Why? For many, the only answer is habit.

Your daily routine and habits can dictate not only what you eat but also when you eat. When you get home from work or school, do you head straight for the refrigerator, whether or not you're hungry? Do you always snack when you watch television at night? Or when you're studying?

Emotions also influence your food choices. For many, food is used as an emotional crutch during times of stress, sadness, or joy. Happiness can also trigger eating. Many people celebrate their end-of-term good grades or a promotion at work with a celebratory meal with friends or family. On vacation, you likely reward yourself with fun, relaxation, and, of course, good food. No matter your mood, food is often part of how you express your emotions.

The Take-Home Message:

Food provides the nutrients that your body needs to function, and the foods that you choose are influenced by many factors. Taste is the primary reason why certain foods have become your favorites. The availability of certain foods has made them a part of your culture and a habitual part of your day. Food trends, cost, limits on your time, convenience, and your emotions all can influence your food choices.


14.What Is Nutrition and Why Is Good Nutrition So Important?

Whereas food is the source of nutrients that your body needs, nutrition is about more than just food.

Nutrition is the science that studies how the nutrients and compounds in foods nourish you, help you function, and affect your health.

Your body needs all the nutrients to function properly. A chronic deficiency of even one nutrient will negatively affect your body's ability to function in the short term.

Chronic deficiencies, excesses, and imbalances of many nutrients can also affect your long-term health.

Good nutrition plays a role in reducing the risk of four of the top ten leading causes of death in the United States and European Union, including the top three - heart disease, cancer, and stroke - as well as diabetes.

Nutrition also plays an important role in preventing other diseases and conditions that can impede your lifestyle.

A healthy diet can help keep your bones strong and reduce your risk of osteoporosis. Eating right will help you better manage your body weight, which in turn will reduce your risk of developing obesity, diabetes mellitus, and high blood pressure.

Nutrition - The science that studies how the nutrients and compounds in foods that you eat nourish and affect your body functions and health.

You are a product of what you eat, what you don't eat, or what you may eat too much of. You want to eat the best combination of a variety of foods to meet your nutritional needs and to be healthy.

To do that, you need to understand the roles of the essential nutrients in your body and which foods to eat to get them.

The Take-Home Message:

Nutrition is the scientific study of how the nutrients and compounds in foods nourish your body. Good nutrition plays a role in reducing the risk of many chronic diseases and conditions. Long-term imbalances of many nutrients will affect your health.


15.What Are the Essential Nutrients and Why Do You Need Them?

The classes of nutrients that we introduced earlier are all essential because you must have them in order to function. (Alcohol, in contrast, is not an essential nutrient; even though it provides energy in the form of kilocalories, your body does not need it to function.)

Your body is, in fact, made up of the same essential nutrients that are found in foods.

Carbohydrates, lipids (fats), and proteins are called macronutrients, because you need higher amounts of them in your diet.

Vitamins and minerals, though equally important to your health, are considered micronutrients because you need them in lesser amounts. You need to consume the final nutrient, water, in copious amounts daily so that you are well hydrated. Kilocalories (commonly referred to as calories, which is the term we will use throughout this course) from the macronutrients are used as energy during the process of metabolism, and many vitamins and minerals are essential to this process.

Vitamins and minerals are also needed for growth and reproduction and to help repair and maintain your body.

Although each nutrient is unique, they are all equally important, as they work together in numerous ways to keep you healthy.

An imbalance of just one will affect your health. Let's take a closer look at the macro- and micronutrients, and water.

The nutrients found in the foods that you eat are the same ones that provide structure for your body and allow your normal body processes to occur.


 Macronutrients - The energy containing essential nutrients that you need in higher amounts: carbohydrates, lipids (fats), and proteins

Micronutrients - Essential nutrients that you need in smaller amounts: vitamins and minerals.


16.Carbohydrates, Fats, and Proteins Provide Energy

Carbohydrates, fats (lipids), and proteins are the energy-providing nutrients, because they contain calories.

When we talk about energy, we mean that your body breaks down these nutrients and "burns" them to fuel your activities and internal functioning.

One calorie equals the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram (a liter) of water 1 degree Celsius.

Carbohydrates and protein provide 4 calories per gram, and fats provide 9 calories per gram.

The number of calories in a given food can be determined by measuring the weight, in grams, of each of the three nutrients in one serving of the food.

The amount of calories that you need daily to maintain your weight is estimated based on your age, gender, and activity level.

However, you need these nutrients for many reasons beyond their providing energy.

You must consume a healthy combination of carbohydrates, fats, and protein so that excesses, deficiencies, and imbalances don't occur that may increase your risk of chronic diseases.

Carbohydrates supply the simple sugar, called glucose that your cells use as the major energy source to fuel your body. Most of your daily calories should come from carbohydrates.

Fats are another major fuel source. They also help cushion your organs to prevent damage and act as insulation under your skin to help maintain your body temperature.

Proteins can be used as energy, but are better used to build and maintain your tissues, muscles, and organs. You also need protein to make most enzymes and some hormones, to help transport other nutrients, and for a healthy immune system.

A healthy diet should provide adequate amounts of carbohydrates and fats for energy, and enough protein to maintain and repair your body.

Carbohydrates, fats, and proteins are all organic because they contain the element carbon. They also contain two other elements, hydrogen and oxygen. Proteins also contain nitrogen, while carbohydrates and fats do not.



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