Nutrition For Dummies
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Nutrition is the science of how your body uses the food and drink you consume to build new tissues and power every organ and part from your brain down to your toes. Get the most from your daily diet by making healthy choices.


How to Cut Calories the Easy Way

Yes, it’s hard to control your weight. No, you don’t have to give up every delicious food. Simply editing your plate can reduce the calories and help skim off the pounds.

  • Use low-fat or no-fat dairy products.

  • Use sugar substitutes instead of sugar.

  • Skim the fat off all soups and stews.

  • Choose low-fat desserts.

  • Serve poultry without skin.

  • Avoid high-fat, oily salad dressings.

  • Make open-face sandwiches with just one slice of bread.

  • Eliminate high-fat ingredients in any dish.

  • Don’t butter the veggies.

  • Rinse the fat off chopped meat with hot water.

When You May Need Extra Nutrients

Most nutrition experts agree that healthy adults can get virtually all the nutrients they need from a balanced diet. But not every body is the same, and these bodies may need more than the average body:

  • When you’re pregnant, you need extra amounts of some vitamins, minerals, and protein to meet the needs of the growing fetus.

  • Ditto for when you’re nursing your baby.

  • Some medicines reduce your body’s ability to absorb and use certain vitamins and minerals. When your doctor writes a prescription, ask whether you need supplements.

  • What? You still smoke? Then you need more vitamin C than nonsmokers.

  • Are you a woman approaching menopause? Time for extra calcium to maintain healthy bones.

  • Older men also need extra calcium.

  • Is your diet strictly vegetarian – meaning no food of animal origin, not even milk and eggs? You need extra vitamin B12. You may also need extra calcium and iron.

How to Keep Food Safe and Nutritious

Clean hands plus clean prep space plus appropriate hot or cold temps adds up to safe food. The rules are simple, and the rewards are great. Here’s what you need to know to keep your food safe and nutritious:

  • Wash your hands before (and after) touching food.

  • Wash all fruits and vegetables before you use them.

  • Follow the directions on the food package for storing and preparing food safely.

  • Handle all raw meat, fish, and poultry as though it were contaminated (sometimes, it is!).

  • Cook foods thoroughly.

  • Keep hot foods hot, cold foods cold.

  • Never eat or drink anything containing raw eggs.

  • Use a separate cutting board for raw meat, fish, and poultry.

  • Never taste any questionable food “just to be sure it’s all right.” When in doubt, throw it out.

Nutritional Prefixes and Suffixes

Like every discipline, nutrition has its own particular language. This chart clues you in to several prefixes and suffixes that can make deciphering nutrition-speak a cinch.

Element Meaning
amyl- starch
an- without
anti- against
-ase an enzyme
di- two
-emia found in the blood
gastro- referring to the stomach
gly- referring to sugars
hydr-, hydro- water (also: hydrogen)
hyper- above normal
hypo- below normal
lact-, lacti-, lacto- milk
lip-, lipo- fat
macro- large
micro- very small
mono- one
-ose sugar
tri- three

Measurements Used in Nutrition

This chart defines the words – and the abbreviations – used in nutrition to describe quantities of solids and liquids from the miniscule (vitamins and minerals) to the relatively large (water).

Abbreviation Measurement Equivalent
g gram 1,000 milligrams
1,000,000 micrograms
mg milligram 1/1,000 gram
mcg microgram 1/1,000,000 gram
kg kilogram 1,000 grams
2.2 pounds
lb pound 0.45 kilograms
16 ounces
l liter 1,000 milliliters
10 deciliters
dl deciliter 1/10 liter
ml milliliter 1/1,000 liter

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Carol Ann Rinzler is a former nutrition columnist for the New York Daily News and the author of more than 30 health-related books, including Controlling Cholesterol For Dummies, Heartburn and Reflux For Dummies, The New Complete Book of Food, the award-winning Estrogen and Breast Cancer: A Warning for Women, and Leonardo’s Foot, which the American Association for the Advancement of Science described as “some of the best writing about science for the non-scientist encountered in recent years.”

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