To fuel the body's basic energy needs, calories are of course paramount. Yet many people find it difficult to take in the right amount—as well as the right kind—of fuel. No matter how many dietary guidelines are handed out, people still crave what is definitively bad for them. And in an era where sugary and fatty snacks are often within arm's reach, resisting those cravings has become exceedingly difficult. There is also more to food than nutrition, because what a person eats also carries cultural, social, and economic weight. Holidays and gatherings, for example, highlight food as the main event, which can complicate the meaning of a meal. Eating the right foods can help prevent many problems—cardiovascular issues, diabetes, obesity, and osteoporosis, to name a few. No doubt many people behave in unhealthy ways around food; they overeat, eat the wrong things, or think about eating far too much. A healthy relationship with food means a healthy lifestyle overall.
What Is Diet and Nutrition
A good diet contributes to optimal health, but not everyone has a positive relationship with food. Some people battle with their plate, wit body image issues and obsessions joining the fight. The act of eating if often rife with strong emotions like boredom, stress, and guilt. Looking for relief, people reach for a slice of cake, setting them down a path of unhealthy behaviors. Next, it’s snacking in the middle of the night, foregoing proper portion sizes, skipping meals, and other untoward habits. Then comes a cycle of on-and-off, short-term dieting that rarely, if ever, leads to permanent weight loss.
Nutritionists, dietitians, and food scientists study the relationship between diet and good health, as well as how people can fend off chronic diseases and mental health problems. They are interested in biology, genetics, metabolism, and biochemistry. These are the health professionals who help establish guidelines for healthy eating entails that include adequate amounts of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, fibers, and other essential nutrients. With the help of these nutrition experts, government agencies are able to give advice and develop policies and programs promoting nutrition literacy and interventions that can help change food behaviors and attitudes on a national scale.