The healthy 13: BMI, physical activity, and how many times per day to eat?

Before I tell you something more about the Healthy 13, I’d like to remind you that they are the nutritional recommendations for a healthy population. It’s not a dogma, nor commands. It’s a suggestion or advice on how to do things better. Every person is different. A child and an elderly person have each their own needs which are included in these 13 points.

1. Maintain a healthy, constant body weight based on BMI (18,5-25,0 kg/m2) and a healthy waistline below 94 cm for men and below 80 cm for women.

BMI is a body mass index. Its value tells us, what should our optimal weight be according to our height. BMI might not always be accurate, as a person who has big muscles can weigh more than is the normal BMI limit (25) and still not be overweight. That’s why we measure the circumference of waist and arm, thigh or calf. With children we don’t use BMI but percentile growth charts instead. For the elderly, it’s the rate of muscle loss (atrophy) that is important.

2. Do some daily physical activity for about 30 minutes, such as taking a brisk walk or do some exercise.

You might not like sport and no one can force you to. But if you have two healthy legs, you can, for instance, get off the bus at an earlier bus stop or take a longer walk when walking the dog. Or you can choose not to take the lift or the escalators but use the stairs. There are endless possibilities and it’s up to you which one you’ll choose. Every move counts. It’s something that you’re doing for your own sake and your body will repay you well. 🙂

When I’m not in the mood to do sport, I at least go out for a walk and run up the stairs at the end of the walk and stretch. You can do something similar for yourself, too.

3. Eat a varied diet, 4 – 5 meals per day and don’t skip breakfast.

People tend to respond negatively to this one. I thought about the reason for that and figured that it’s once again about the idea of details vs. the whole that I mentioned in the other article. Everyone who responded to this looked at it from their point of view – or only at a detail. “I don’t agree because I eat 3 times per day and it’s enough for me. And no one can force me to have breakfasts when I don’t want to.” So, first of all, a recommendation doesn’t force anyone to do anything, it’s only a suggestion. In other words, “it’s beneficial for you to have breakfasts.” Second, population means all people – the whole – regardless of their age, sex or job.

In matters of taste, there can be no disputes

Do you remember the time when as a child you had breakfast, ate a snack at school, had lunch in the school canteen, after a sports training you ate a slice of bread or something sweet and in the evening there was mom waiting for you with the dinner on the table? Five meals per day was nothing peculiar, right? Another example is a forty-year-old woman working in administration. She has breakfast, lunch and dinner. She is not hungry during the day and eats three meals and that’s fine. We simply can’t compare her energy output while sitting on a chair behind a computer with the energy output of a forty-year-old man who has a physically active job. He needs to refill energy three hours after breakfast and so has a snack. Then he has lunch. After coming home hungry from work at about five o’clock, he eats a big portion . But as he spent lots of energy throughout the day and ate the last meal at five, he digests it without much difficulty and eats another meal. And we have the five meals.

The recommendation to eat several meals per day is in order to prevent mindless eating.

To stop mindless eating because of a too long pause between meals and being too hungry. If it’s not the case with you, you’re lucky. And then it’s important to understand what is meant by the meal. Meal is not only what is on your table and what you eat with a knife and fork. One of the five meals might as well be an apple. I, for instance, eat 3 – 4 meals per day. If I don’t feel like eating, I most certainly don’t force myself to it. 🙂

In the following articles you will find out something about eating fruits and veggies, cereals and legumes, fish, dairy products, fats, sugar, salt, drinking water and alcohol.