CARACTERISTICS OF GOOD NUTRITION
Most people find pleasure in eating. Eating allows one to connect with family and friends in pleasant surroundings. This connection creates pleasant memo-ries. Unfortunately, in social situations it is easy for one to make food choices that may not be conducive to good health.
What determines when one needs to eat? Does one wait until the body signals hunger or eat when one sees food or when the clock says it is time? Hunger is the physiological need for food. Appetite is a psychological desire for food based on pleasant memories. When the body signals hunger, that is the indication that there is a decrease in blood glucose that supplies the body with energy. If one ignores the signal and hunger becomes intense, it is possible to make poor food choices. The choices one makes will determine one’s nutrition status. A person who habitually chooses to eat, or not to eat, as a way of coping with life’s emotional struggles may be suffering from an eating disorder.
Once foods have been eaten, the body must process it before it can be used. Nutrition is the result of the processes whereby the body takes in and uses food for growth, development, and the maintenance of health. These processes include digestion, absorption, and metabolism. One’s physical condition as determined by the diet is called nutritional status.
Nutrition helps determine the height and weight of an individual. Nutri-tion also can affect the body’s ability to resist disease, the length of one’s life, and the state of one’s physical and mental well-being (Figure 1-1).
Good nutrition enhances appearance and is commonly exemplified by shiny hair, clear skin, clear eyes, erect posture, alert expressions, and firm flesh on well-developed bone structures. Good nutrition aids emotional adjustments, provides stamina, and promotes a healthy appetite. It also helps establish regu-lar sleep and elimination habits (Table 1-2).