Unit 2 – Planning Healthy Diets

2.1 Introduction

What makes a diet “healthy”? What does the word “healthy” even mean?

Each of us might picture something different when we think of a healthy diet, and if you travel around the world, you’ll find even more variation in how people define this term.

A Latino family of six (mother, father, two young children and grandparents) sitting around a table kitchen table for dinner.

 Image by USDA SNAP ED

Indeed, humans are incredibly flexible when it comes to food. We are omnivores, and we can survive and thrive on a wide variety of different foods. The foods that nourish our bodies are often the same foods that nourish our souls, bringing us together with friends and family, celebrating traditions and conjuring memories of meals past.

We’ll begin our study of nutrients —the substances in food that nourish us—with an overview of the general functions of each. Then, we’ll l consider some tools for choosing foods that will  provide us with all the nutrients we need. Because whatever the deep and complex meanings that food brings to our lives and our culture, we also want to choose foods that will promote wellness,  fuel our activities,  prevent disease, and enable us to long, healthy life.


VIDEO:  “A Diet for a Healthy World”  By the World Health Organization   (June 2020)    (I:39 minutes)


Unit Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you should be able to:

  1. Be able to define nutrition, food, calories (kcal) and nutrients, and describe how nutrition is related to health, including risk of chronic disease.
  2. Describe the different factors that impact food choices.
  3. List the  six  types of nutrients and describe the various ways they are classified.
  4. Understand how the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) are determined, what each type of DRI value means, and how they are used.
  5. Be able to use the information in a Nutrition Facts label to understand the nutritional qualities of a food.
  6. Be familiar with several concepts that are helpful in planning a healthful diet, including adequacy, balance, moderation, variety, nutrient density, and empty calories.
  7. Be familiar with and able to use tools for planning a healthful diet, including MyPlate and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.


Lane Community College’s Nutrition: Science and Everyday Application. Introdution to Unit 1   CC BY-NC 4.0

Image Credits:

Father and daughter grilling dinner.  USDA SNAP Ed Photo Gallary 




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Introduction to Nutrition and Wellness Copyright © 2022 by Janet Colson; Sandra Poirier; and Yvonne Dadson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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