Nutrition is often ignored until an individual reaches a health crisis at some point in their life. Education about nutrition starts early in life and should be given strong emphasis in school education and family lifestyle.
Overweight and obesity statistics from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney diseases are indicating that more than one in three adults are considered to be overweight.These same statistics also indicate that 1 in 6 children and adolescents in the 2 years to 19 years age range were documented as being obese.
Education about nutrition needs to be geared towards food choices. Often times individuals are unaware of long term impacts of specific ingredients in food. Sodium, for example, is an essential mineral that the body requires but sodium or salt in excess can damage the body. Patients having experienced heart surgery are frequently put on sodium free diets. At this later stage of life they find out that many foods they enjoyed have a very high sodium content.
Starting early in life young people should be taught about the damaging effects of high sodium ingredients. Understanding what a healthy level of sodium should be is a building block in living a healthy lifestyle. Information from the sodium reduction initiative website indicates that the average American eats more than 3,400 mg of sodium per day when the American Heart Association recommends no more than 1500 mg per day for most adults. The same website also indicates that more than 75% of the salt intake for Americans is coming not from the salt shaker but from restaurant and prepackaged foods.
In a society that is turning more and more towards fast food convenience for low prices and quick meals we are paying for these choices with our health. High sodium is only one part of the danger of a lifetime of eating prepackaged and fast food meals.
Fats in the diet can lead to high cholesterol and heart disease. Education about fats in the diet is an essential part of understanding how to stay healthy. Staying away from trans fats in prepackaged foods and consuming more healthy fats in fish, for example, are simple ways to consume less harmful fat.
In conclusion, nutrition is a lifelong process of building a healthy relationship with the right foods. Choosing a salad or low fat fish or chicken over a burger and fries is a great step in the right direction. Eating out has become an American way of life but it doesn’t have to lead to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other poor nutrition related diseases. Restaurants are starting to have healthy choice dishes with calories listed on the menu. Grocery stores have prepackaged ready made salad ingredients. With education poor nutrition choices can be eliminated from our lives.