Aspects of Nutrition

Return to : Physical Development

Variety, Balance, and Moderation


Eating a variety of foods and choosing the appropriate number of servings from the food guide pyramid is something that many people do not do. No two food items provide the exact same nutrients and this is why it is important to eat an assortment of foods. This means that some food items are better sources for nutrients than other items and vise versa. Advocates of the Food Guide Pyramid recommend that girls and women, especially, should be sure and meet the RDA for calcium and iron.


Balance in the world of nutrition means two things. First, balance compares with variety because of the importance of eating a balanced diet from the Food Pyramid. Secondly, balance is associated with caloric intake/expenditure. When equality is found between food intake (calories taken in to the body) and physical exercise (caloric expenditure) a maintaining of body weight occurs. If weight loss is desired a diet of low caloric foods such as fruits, vegetables, and grains balanced with an increase in exercise is needed. If weight gain is wanted, then it is recommended to increase caloric intake and continue to exercise at current level. DO NOT stop exercising.


Moderation can be referred to as controlling or regulation of food intake. Within the discussion of nutrition moderation is needed in the consumption of sugars, salt/sodium, and alcoholic beverages. In reference to sugar, moderation means less than 15% of total calories (75 grams or 15 teaspoons) should come from this area. Next, even though sodium is considered as an essential nutrient, regulating intake of sodium is important. The body only needs about 500 milligrams (1/4 of a teaspoon) a day. Most people get 8 times that much! Lastly, moderation in consumption of alcohol is needed to be healthy. Males should not consume more than two drinks daily and females one drink daily. Also, alcohol is high in calories and low in nutrients.

5 ounces of wine
One drink = 12 ounces of beer
1.5 ounces of distilled liquor


The Food Guide Pyramid
Bread, Cereal, Rice, & Pasta
Usually low in fat and rich in complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and many vitamins/minerals.
  • 1 slice of bread/half of hamburger roll or bagel or English muffin
  • 1 small roll
  • 1 ounce of ready to eat cereal
  • 2 large crackers
Rich in carbohydrates, dietary fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin A.
  • 1 cup raw leafy vegetables
  • 1/2 cup raw or cooked vegetables
  • 3/4 cup vegetable juice
Rich in dietary fiber, carbohydrates, and vitamin C.
  • 1 medium piece of fruit or wedge of melon
  • 1/2 cup berries
  • 1/2 grapefruit
  • 1/4 dried fruit
  • 3/4 cup fruit juice
Milk, Yogurt, & Cheese
High in protein, carbohydrates, calcium, and potassium.
  • 1 cup milk or yogurt
  • 1 1/2 ounces cheese
  • 2 ounces processed cheese
Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Eggs, & Nuts
Provides protein, iron, and various vitamins and minerals.
  • 2-3 ounces of lean meat
  • 1/2 cup cooked dry beans
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup nuts


Four Areas of Nutrition

I. Essential Nutrients

Essential nutrients are nutritional elements that must be consumed from food sources. These nutrients should come from food because the body does not have the ability to manufacture the essential nutrients. The essential nutrients that the body needs are proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water. While all six of these are needed for normal body functions the three that produce energy for the body to use are proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.

A. Proteins

Protein and amino acids (building blocks of protein) are responsible for the formation of muscles and bones. Also, protein helps in formation of enzymes, blood, and some hormones. Although the body can produce 11 amino acids they are not enough to make full proteins for the body to use. Another 9 essential amino acids must be consumed through proper food intake. The leading sources of protein (in descending order) are beef, steaks, roasts, hamburger, meatloaf, white bread, rolls, crackers, milk, and pork.

B. Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are important to the body in two ways. One way carbohydrates help the body is to supply energy to cells. Cells needing only carbohydrates can be found in the blood, brain, and other parts of the nervous system. The second way carbohydrates are important to the body is for fuel. This fuel is what muscles burn (for energy) during high intensity exercise. There are two types of carbohydrates that a person can intake depending on the type of food they choose to eat. Simple carbohydrates are found in fruits and milk (natural); also they can be found added to soft drinks, candy , and sweet desserts.

C. Fats

Fats are important to the body because they help insulate, provide cushion for organs, and has the most concentrated source of energy. Furthermore, fat allows a person to absorb fat soluble vitamins that are needed to ensure the body is getting the vitamins it needs for survival. Fats are often categorized into saturated (bad), monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated. Usually, a person can tell if a product has saturated fat because the fat stays solid at room temperature (ex. steak, roast), while monounsaturated and polyunsaturated are found in liquid form such as oils.

II. Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA)

Recommended Daily Allowances are guidelines that were established by governmental agencies such as the USDA. These RDA’s, Estimated Safe and Adequate Daily Intakes, and Estimated Minimum Requirements are standards for consumers to follow that will assure them of good nutritional intake, which will guard against nutritional deficiency. The Food Guide Pyramid is a working guide to following the Recommended Daily Allowances.

III. Supplemental Use


IV. Dietary Guidelines



Return to : Physical Development

All materials on this website [] are, unless otherwise stated, the property of William G. Huitt. Copyright and other intellectual property laws protect these materials. Reproduction or retransmission of the materials, in whole or in part, in any manner, without the prior written consent of the copyright holder, is a violation of copyright law.