There are a number of good habits we should practice in order to stay
healthy. These are essential for the good health of every person, be they
young or old, regardless of race.
The first area is nutrition. What it
means is that we should eat a well-balanced diet. We are familiar with the
diagram of the food pyramid. Every now and then the divisions within the
pyramid change because nutritionists come up with new theories of what is
best. Basically nutritionists agree that we need to eat carbohydrates to
give us energy. Carbohydrates are foods such as bread, potatoes and rice.
Carbohydrates keep us warm and supply us with the energy we need to keep us
alive, to move about and to work.
Food such as meat and fish also gives us the nutrients necessary for
growth and for the repair of worn tissue. It follows then that children and
growing teenagers need more food than older people. There is some truth in
this. Food supplies us with vitamins, minerals and other substances that are
necessary for the chemical processes that take place in our body.
The question of the amount of food we need is also often under
investigation. Most nutritionists agree that the amount of food we need
depends on the amount of energy we need for our day to day living and also
for the kind of work we do. For normal day to day living, a person who
weighs about 64 kg needs about 2400 calories. Two-thirds of this energy is
used to maintain normal body temperature, muscle tone and to keep internal
organs such as the heart, liver and kidneys functioning properly. The
remaining calories are needed for other functions such as eating, walking,
working and playing.
The amount of work a person does also determines the amount of food he
eats. A person who does heavy manual work such as a farmer or a construction
worker uses up more calories, and therefore needs more food. We are
impressed and sometimes amused by the amount of rice that a manual worker
can consume and yet remain trim. On the other hand, an office worker may
appear to eat a modest amount of rice and vegetables and yet appear
overweight. The fact is the office worker probably only needs about 2200
calories. When we consume more calories than we need regularly, we end up
fat and unhealthy. It is thus easy to understand why people in affluent
countries, like the USA and Germany, are often fat and unhealthy.
Unfortunately, obesity and its negative consequences are problems in
societies where there is plenty of food.
It is true that in their teens, children go through a growth spurt so
they do need extra food. Teenagers are often hungry and this could be the
body's way of signaling for food. There is a tendency for teenagers to go
for instant gratification in the form of comfort foods such as burgers and
hot dogs. Some may go for Asian treats such as nasi lemak and the
usual accompaniments or a plate of oily fried noodles.
It is not a crime to indulge occasionally in one's favorite foods even
though they are unhealthy choices. However, it is important that growing
teenagers eat a balanced diet that consists of a variety of foods that
include fish, meat and eggs, fresh vegetables and fruit and boiled rice and