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How Much Food Do I Need?, What Is a Balanced Diet?

All animals need food to survive. Food gives us energy to carry out the four main life processes. These are:

  • Movement: Animals usually move their whole bodies.
  • Growth: All animals grow from a baby to an adult.
  • Reproduction: Animals can give birth to young.
  • Nutrition: Animals take in food. This provides energy for all four processes.

Enjoy Your Meal Animals get their energy from food. The young can then grow to become adults.

Enjoy Your Meal Today's food will become tomorrow's cells in your body. It is important to eat a balanced, healthy diet.

How Much Food Do I Need?

At different times of life, humans need different amounts of food. The more energy you use, the more food you need to eat. For example, athletes use lots of energy. So they need a lot of food. Older people do not use as much energy. So, they need less food. But whatever your age, you need a balanced diet.

What Is a Balanced Diet?

A balanced diet is one that contains the six main food types. These are carbohydrates, proteins, fat, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. And, of course, everyone needs water. The foods must be eaten in the correct amounts. You would not be healthy if you ate a diet full of fat!

Why Do I Need All Six Food Groups?

The table below shows the kinds of food in each food group. It also shows you why you need each food group.

Food Type How Do I Get It? Why Do I Need It?
Carbohydrates (starch) Bread, pasta, rice, cereals For energy
Carbohydrates (sugar) Cakes, cookies, candies For energy
Protein Meat, fish, eggs For cell growth and repair
Fat Butter, oil, cheese, milk, meat For energy
Vitamins and minerals Vegetables, fruit, dairy products For cells
Fiber Cereals, fruit, vegetables For a healthy digestive system

Enjoy Your Meal KEEPING FIT. It is important to eat a balanced diet. To keep healthy, it is also very important to exercise. Walk the dog, play soccer with your friends, or join a sports club. There are hundreds of ways to stay fit!

How To Eat a Balanced Diet

The food pyramid shows you how much of each food group to eat. If you follow this pyramid, you will be doing your best to keep healthy.

Enjoy Your Meal We should aim to eat plenty of the foods at the bottom of the pyramid. It is better not to eat too many of the foods at the top.

And If I Don't Eat a Balanced Diet?

Without a balanced diet, you may get sick. Some diseases are caused when a person does not eat from all of the food groups. These diseases are rare in developed countries like the United States.


People get scurvy when they do not get any vitamin C. Vitamin C is found in fruits and vegetables. Oranges, lemons, and limes are the best source of vitamin C. People with scurvy have bleeding gums, painful joints, and bad skin. These can be cured by eating vitamin C.

Enjoy Your Meal Many people do not get a balanced diet. Some may even die of starvation.

Enjoy Your Meal Keep an eye on what you eat. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables to keep healthy.


People who do not get any vitamin D can get rickets. Vitamin D is found in some fish, eggs, and dairy products. When children have rickets, their bones do not grow properly. Rickets is treated by giving the patient vitamin D and calcium. Calcium is found in milk.

Feeling Healthy

These diseases are rare. But it is important to eat a balanced diet to feel healthy. If your diet lacks a food group, you may feel tired. You may have less energy. You may not be able to think clearly. By eating all of the food groups, you make sure you have all the nutrients that you need.

What you eat is important. But how much you eat is also important.

What Happens If I Eat More Than I Need?

Your body uses the energy in food. Some people eat more food than they need. The body stores the extra food as fat. The fat is found under the skin. If someone has too much body fat, they are said to be obese. Being obese can cause problems. Obese people are more likely to have heart problems. They are also more at risk of other diseases, such as cancer and diabetes.

Enjoy Your Meal It is harder to carry around a lot of extra weight. It can also cause plenty of health problems.

What Happens If I Eat Less Than I Need?

If you do not eat enough food, your body will use stored fat for energy. You will lose weight. People who are underweight are also at risk of heart problems and other diseases.

People who are either underweight or obese should talk to a doctor. They may need help to get back to a healthy weight.

Enjoy Your Meal Keeping fit and healthy is a good habit to get into!

How Does Food Spoil?

If food is not stored properly it can spoil, or go bad. Storing food in these ways can help keep it safe:

  • In the refrigerator
  • In the freezer
  • Sealed in a container
  • Stored in a substance that preserves the food

Enjoy Your Meal Brine, or salted water, keeps olives fresh. Sliced meat stays safe for longer in the refrigerator.

Sometimes food is not cooked well. Sometimes it is stored incorrectly. Then, microorganisms can grow on it. Microorganisms include bacteria and fungus.

What Happens If I Eat Food That's Gone Bad?

If you eat bad food, your tongue may detect this. If you swallow the food, your body will still try to get rid of it. It can do this in two ways. You may vomit. Or you may have diarrhea. Both methods get the microorganisms out of your body as fast as possible!

Having food poisoning can be very painful. It can make your stomach and intestines hurt. To prevent food poisoning, it is important to store and cook food properly. Wash your hands before you touch food. And always check the “best before” date.

Enjoy Your Meal Even ice creams can give you food poisoning. Make sure an ice cream has not melted, then been refrozen.

Your digestive system is good at keeping you healthy. It takes the goodness from food. It protects you from bad food. It is complex and efficient. Make sure you take good care of it!

Additional topics

Science Encyclopedia for KidsWhat Happens To Your Food When You Eat?