There are three basic nutrients that make up the food we eat everyday. They are Protein, Carbohydrates and Fat. Also essential to proper nutrition is Water and Fiber. The functions of these nutrients and the foods in which they are found is important in understanding how to eat more healthy.


Body’s main structural nutrient
Makes all body muscle and tissue
Used by the immune system
Found in: eggs, meats, fish, beans, dairy products and soy

Preferred energy source of the body
Supplies fast energy to the muscles for activity
Found in: grains, pastas, cereals, breads, vegetables, fruits and anything with sugar

Energy storage nutrient
A source of energy for low-intensity activity
Found in: all oils, butter, margarine, meats and junk food.

Essential to all bodily functions and processes
Essential to maintain life
Important to drink water throughout the day
Basic rule of thumb: 8 (64 oz) glasses of water per day

Helps food move through the digestive system
Helps to maintain regular bowel function
Helps to create feeling of fullness at meals
How to Use Nutritional Basics4

Divide the meal into thirds; two thirds of the meal should come from carbohydrates and one third should come from protein.
Eat foods that are high in complex carbohydrates such as grains, pasta and rice
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables (5 servings per day)
Dairy is important of bone health. Eat low-fat dairy products such as cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt and milk.
Avoid simple carbohydrates that contain processed sugars.
Avoid processes foods .
Attempt to stay away from junk food, especially soda as it has a high sugar content.
Limit the amount of refined foods that have fat, sugar or salt in them.
The largest meal of the day should be breakfast and the smallest meal should be dinner; eating a large amount at night before sleeping does not allow for these calories to be burned.
Try to eat small, frequent meals throughout the day.
Tips for Healthy Eating

There are more health advantages when food can be prepared with fresh ingredients. Convenience foods are expensive and some are high in fat and salt. Tips for storing healthy foods and eating out are located below.

Tips for Storing & Preparing Healthy Foods5

The Pantry

Buy extra of long lasting vegetables like potatoes, carrots and onions, which can form the basis of soups or casseroles.
Stock plenty of dried pasta.
Keep a selection of other carbohydrates like rice, Asian type dry noodles, lentils and couscous.
Use canned tomatoes, tomato paste, corn and other vegetables (available in low or no salt varieties).
Stock a range of canned meats, like tuna, salmon, ham, crab meat, sardines, beef and chicken.
Keep canned legumes (kidney, three bean mix, chick peas).
Stock canned and packet soups.
Have a variety of oils and vinegars (olive oil, sesame oil, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar) available as you can make a wide range of salad dressings or marinades with these ingredients.
Stock dried herbs (basil, coriander, thyme, oregano and mixed herbs).
Stock useful condiments including: tomato sauce, mustard, mayonnaise, relish, stock cubes, ready-made stock, soy sauce and chili sauce.
Store a variety of nuts as these are a great meat alternatives, especially in pasta or rice dishes.
Freezer and Fridge

Buy frozen vegetables; these products retain a high proportion of their nutrients.
Fresh crushed garlic and ginger are available in jars to keep in the refrigerator and fresh herbs in tubes are available to store in your freezer.
Citrus fruits like oranges have a long life when refrigerated.
Fresh lemon and lime juice can be bought in the bottle and stored in the fridge.
Grated cheese can be sealed and stored in the freezer to increase its shelf life.
When buying fresh meat, choose de-boned varieties. Divide the quantities into meal sized portions and freeze separately.
Buy red meat and chicken already sliced or diced or marinated.
Buy bread in bulk and keep it in the freezer until needed.
‘Bake at home’ rolls can be stored in the fridge or freezer until ready to use.
Time Saving Suggestions

Make extra portions: when making pasta sauce, casserole or soup make double the quantity you need. Freeze the remainder in meal-sized portions; these are ready-made meals for later in the week or month. The meals may also be given to the care recipient.
Prepare easy meals like one-pot meals such as soups, risottos, stews, curries and casseroles, these saves time on clean up.
Use a microwave as it’s easier and faster to microwave foods than to cook them in the oven or on the stovetop.
Don’t throw out leftovers when stored appropriately (refrigerated or frozen) they are a quick meal for the next day.
Tips for Eating Out6

Try to eat the same portion size that is eaten at home. If the serving size is larger, share with someone or get what is left of the meal to go.

Eat slowly.

Ask for fish or meat broiled with no extra butter.

Order a baked potato plain, then top it with a teaspoon of margarine or low calories sour cream and/or vegetables from the salad bar or ask for the toppings on the side so that you can control the amount that is added to the potato.

Ask for sauces, gravy and salad dressings on the side.

Order foods that are not breaded or fried because they add fat or if the dish comes breaded peel off the outer coating.

Order a fruit cup for an appetizer or dessert.

Instead of a dinner entrée, combine a salad with a low-fat appetizer.

Ask for substitutions. Instead of french fries, request a double order of vegetables.

If you cannot substitute ask that the high fat food be left off of the plate.

Vinegar, a dash of oil or a squeeze of lemon can be used instead of high fat dressings.

Limit alcohol which adds calories and has no nutritional value.

For More Information About Nutrition

Basic Nutrition from Harvard School of Public Health
Basic Nutrition from American Dietetic Association
Scientific Nutrition Information from American Society for Nutrition
Food Fact Sheets for Everyone from Better Health Channel
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5. Better Health Channel. (May, 2007). Fact Sheet: Cooking Tips for Busy People. Retrieved May 17, 2007 from

6. American Diabetes Association. (n.d.). Your Guide to Eating Out. Retrieved May 17, 2007 from