In nutrition, diet refers to the amount of food ingested by an animal or human being. The amount of food eaten by people can range from six meals a day, three small meals and one large meal per day depending on their intake. Diet is not only about what we eat; it also about the type of food we eat and how much of each type of food we have. Our bodies also need certain vitamins and minerals to maintain good health and maintain our weight. Most of us are aware of this but many of us have forgotten what it actually means to diet.
Diets can be low fat, low carbohydrate, balanced, low protein, high fiber and carbohydrate rich. The term ‘diet’ can mean different things to different people. To keep things simple, when I talk about diet, I am referring to the overall dietary needs of an individual to keep him or her healthy and well. The American Dietary Association defines a balanced diet as a collection of foods that provide for the nutritional needs of the person with an average daily diet. A low fat, low cholesterol, high fiber diet may be considered healthy as long as one does not include saturated or trans fats in the diet, do not eat too many refined carbohydrates, and do not eat too much protein. This is the basic diet recommendation for everyone.
Other people refer to it as a low calorie diet, low fat diet, high fiber diet, low carbohydrate diet, or just as a diet where you watch what you eat. In this context, it means a diet where you remove or limit certain foods that contain fat, sugar and salt while leaving the carbohydrates that are not converted into sugar to be available to you for energy. In this diet, most foods are made from carbohydrates such as rice, potatoes and breads while most drinks are made from juice, water or milk. Some examples of high sugar foods are cookies, candies, fruit juices, ice cream, sherbet, and sodas.
Diets that removing carbohydrates but leave the remaining nutrients intact are called low-glycemic index (LSI) diets. The foods left in these types of diets are low in calories, but high in nutrients, and often are fibrous and low in fat. High-glycemic index (HGI) diets are very restrictive, often severely limiting carbohydrate intake and increasing protein intake. These types of diets cause people to crave bad foods like ice cream and pizza, because the absence of carbohydrates mean that there is a lack of energy.
You do have to make lifestyle changes in order to achieve a healthy diet. Make sure you don’t skip breakfast. Eat a healthy balanced diet that has many vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Eat several small meals a day rather than two big meals. Don’t allow yourself to get hungry between meals.
You can also have success on low GI diets by including lots of fiber, vegetables, legumes, and protein. Use low-fat or non-fat dairy products, preferably unsweetened, and try to eliminate any processed foods, fried foods, refined sugars, white flour, or salt. Stick to unprocessed whole grain foods as much as possible, and remember that a lot of the food you eat is actually junk food, just packaged and marketed as healthy. If you really want to succeed, try incorporating one or two “treats” each day, if not more. These treats are designed to be short term, lasting no longer than an hour or two. They are usually carbs, such as fruit or a few nuts, that you can snack on for quick energy.