Wrapping one’s mind around diet nutrition can sometimes be confusing. For instance, a 120-pound fifteen-year-old girl will not need as many calories as a 220-pound twenty-five-year-old man. To further confuse matters, that 120-pound fifteen-year-old girl’s 150-pound peer of the same age will need more calories. A fifteen-year-old girl with juvenile diabetes will have an entirely different set of nutritional needs as well. Online, there are many resources and tools to help the average American figure out what his or her dietary needs are, depending on height, weight and level of physical activity.
The “2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans” are the most current recommendations for diet nutrition, at least until the 2010 edition comes out. According to the guidelines, a “healthy diet” is one that is full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products, including lean protein like poultry and fish, beans, eggs and nuts, and is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, sodium and sugar.
Consumers are encouraged to make smart choices and eat a wide variety of foods, while staying within the caloric needs for their height and weight. Each day, Americans should be consuming calories, amino acids, essential fatty acids, minerals and vitamins. While requirements change for people depending upon their size and level of physical activity, the average person consumes around 50 grams of fat and 2,000 calories per day to remain at a stable weight.
For someone with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, the normal dietary rules may not apply. Generally, most diabetics will need to reduce the amount of fat consumed (particularly saturated fat), quit smoking and reduce alcohol consumption to no more than 3 or 4 per day. Diets should be rich in mono-unsaturated fats (like olive oil), oily fish, starchy whole grain carbohydrates (bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, cereal), and fresh fruits and vegetables.
A diabetic will need to check his or her blood sugar level before eating to see that it’s 70 to 130 and then again a few hours after eating to make sure it’s below 180. People with low blood sugar will need to have certain snacks handy, like fruit juice, hard candy, sugar or honey, soft drinks and milk. Small or medium sized women should eat 1,200 to 1,600 calories per day (6 starch, 3 vegetables, 2 fruits, 2 milks, 4-6 ounces protein and up to 3 fats). Larger women or small to medium sized men should have 1,600 to 2,000 calories (8 starch, 4 vegetables, 3 fruits, 2 milks, 4-6 ounces protein and up to 4 fats). For more information, check out the Diabetes Food Pyramid at Nih.
Americans seeking counseling on their dietary habits, whether they wish to gain or lose weight, can find assistance online. Websites like Shapeup or Eatright focus on consumer education centered on diet and weight loss. The National Institute of Health offers information on the 2005 guidelines and Food Pyramid at Nutrition website. Several nation-wide programs can help dieters find greater online support and practical resources at Fitday, Weightwatchers, Sparkpeople, Ediets, Mywebmd Nutrition, Nutricise, Changeone, Cyberdiet or Caloriescount.
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