Eating Habits FAQs
2020-12-03 11:00:33 ASSIST Team ASSIST Team

Eating Habits FAQs

Find out the answers to the most commonly asked questions about healthy habits

How much water per day do you need to drink?

You can go for weeks without food, but you can’t last more than a few days without water. Water is absolutely crucial for every system in your body. It’s also the main thing you are made of. About 62 percent of your body weight is water.

Water improves your brain function and mood. It acts a shock absorber and a lubricant in the body. It also helps flush out toxins, carry nutrients to cells, hydrate the body, and prevent constipation.

Your recommended intake is based on factors including your sex, age, activity level. 

Age (years)

Daily recommended amount of water

4- 8

4 to5 glasses (700 cl to 1 liter)


7 to8 glasses (1 to 1.2 liter)


8 to11 glasses (1.2 to 1.6 liters)


13 glasses (nearly 2 liters)

Woman >18

9 glasses (nearly 1.5 liters)


What is the energy requirement for a child? And for an adolescent?

The number of calories in a food is a general measurement of the amount of energy stored in that food. Your body uses calories from food for walking, thinking, breathing, and other important body functions, digestion comprised.

An average adult active person needs to eat about 2,000 calories every day to maintain his/her weight. However, an adult person’s specific daily calorie intake can vary depending on age, gender, and activity level. Men generally need more calories than women, and adult people who exercise need more calories than people who don’t. In developmental ages the daily calorie intake is less dependent of gender and physical activity.

The following general examples of daily calorie intake are based on international guidelines

  • Children ages 2 to 8 years: around 1,000 to 1,400 calories independently of gender.
  • Girls ages 9 to 13 years: around 1,400 to 1,600 calories independently of the activity level.
  • Boys ages 9 to 13 years: 1,600 to 2,000 calories independently of the activity level.

The source of your daily calories is just as important as the number of calories you consume. You should limit your consumption of empty calories, meaning those that provide little or no nutritional value. Empty calories are calories that come from sugars, sugary drinks, junk food, hypercaloric snacks

How much fruit and vegetables do you need to eat every day?

According to the international nutrition guidelines:

  • Men should eat 2 cups (500 gr) of fruit per day and 2½ to 3 cups  (1.2 to 1.5 kg) of vegetables
  • Women should eat 1½ to 2 cups (700 gr to 1 kg) of fruit per day and 2 to 2½ cups (500 gr to 1.2 kg) of vegetables.

As far as kids and adolescents are concerned:

Age (years)

Daily recommended amount of:




1 cup (250 gr)

1 cup (250 gr)

4- 8

1,5 cups (370 gr)

1,5 cups (370 gr)


1,5 cups (370 gr)

2,5 cups (370 gr)


1,5- 2 cups (370 to 500 gr)

2,5- 3 cups (650 to 750 gr)


Is it necessary to avoid drinking water during meals?

There’s no evidence that you should avoid drinking with meals. Some evidence suggests that beverages consumed right before or during meals can promote smooth digestion, lead to optimal hydration, and leave you feeling full, but they can dilute gastric juices having a negative effect on digestion. Whatever you will decided, just remember that water is the healthiest choice.

Should we all eat less meat?

With incomes rising in developing countries, where traditionally people have had low disposable incomes, meat consumption is bound to rise. However, nutrition advice is for consumption to be in moderation. Too much of anything is not healthy.

Animal foods are good sources of high-quality protein and vitamins and minerals such as iron and zinc, which are especially important for children and lactating mothers. Increasing access to affordable animal-source foods could significantly improve many people’s nutritional status and health, especially in sub-saharan africa, the one region in the world where per capita meat consumption is not increasing. However, excess consumption of high fat-containing meat was shown to be associated with heart disease and other non-communicable diseases.

Should I eat fish? How much fish should I eat?

Fish and seafood are important parts of a healthy diet. They are good sources of vitamin d and polyunsaturated fatty acids including omega-3 as well as protein and other vitamins and minerals. You should eat fish at least twice a week and vary the type of fish. However, children and pregnant and breastfeeding women should limit intake of/avoid certain fish species (e.g. Predatory fish like blue fin or albacore tuna, marlin, pike, swordfish or shark; and certain fish from the baltic sea such as salmon, trout or baltic herring) due to accumulated amounts of harmful substances (e.g. Methylmercury, pcb compounds).

What is a balanced diet?

A balanced diet is one that gives your body the nutrients it needs to function correctly. To get the proper nutrition from your diet, you should consume the majority of your daily calories in:

  • Fresh fruits
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Legumes
  • Nuts
  • Lean proteins 

What is a good meal pattern? / How many meals should I eat per day? / How often should children eat?

Sticking to a regular meal pattern throughout the day helps to regulate hunger and thus reduces over-eating and snacking. A regular meal pattern is especially important for children. Everybody’s meal pattern will differ, but for most people an interval of 3-5 hours between meals is suitable (for children intervals will be shorter). Thus, the meal pattern could consist of three main meals breakfast, lunch and dinner and 1-2 snacks in between.

What is a healthy breakfast? / What is a good breakfast? / Is it important to have a breakfast? / Why should I eat breakfast?

Eating a balanced breakfast in the morning helps keep a regular meal pattern and regulate hunger. A good breakfast consists of something from multiple food groups including a fibre-rich grain product (e.g. Porridge, whole grain bread); vegetables, berries or fruit; a dairy or equivalent plant-based product; a source of protein (e.g. Dairy products, fish) and unsaturated fats (e.g. Plant-based margarine, nuts).

What is the relationship between eating healthily and calories? / Should I count calories? / How many calories do I need? / Do I need to reduce calories?

The energy content of food items is often presented in kilo calories (kcal) or kilo joules (kj). The main aim is to balance energy intake with energy expenditure, which will depend on your basic metabolic rate, gender, age, body size and level of physical activity. However, there is no need to count calories. By following the nutrition guidelines, following a regular eating pattern and eating plenty of vegetables and high-fibre grain products, which are low in energy density and rich in nutrients, yet filling, it is easy to eat a balanced diet.

What's the difference between a portion and a serving size?

A “portion” is how much food you choose to eat at one time, whether in a restaurant, from a package, or in your own kitchen. A “serving” size is the amount of food listed on a product's nutrition facts. Sometimes, the portion size and serving size match; sometimes they do not.

What can I drink if I want to be healthy?

Water is the most recommended drink to be healthy for quenching your thirst. Coffee and tea, without added sweeteners, are healthy choices, too. You should limit fruit juice, milk, and diet drinks. Avoid sugary drinks like soda, sports beverages, and energy drinks.

Which are the high-quality foods I should eat if I want to keep a healthy diet? 

High-quality foods include unrefined, minimally processed foods such as vegetables and fruits, whole grains, healthy fats and healthy sources of protein.

Which are the lower-quality foods I should eat in a moderate way if I want to keep a healthy diet?

Low-quality foods include highly processed snack foods, sugar-sweetened beverages, refined (white) grains, refined sugar, fried foods, foods high in saturated and trans fats, and high-glycaemic foods such as potatoes.

What is a healthy diet for my child/for children?

Many of the same aspects apply to a child’s diet as an adult’s diet. Children’s portion sizes should be adapted to their age and they may have to eat smaller portions more often, but all meals should include vegetables, fruit or berries. Grains should be whole grain and dairy products low fat. Fish is recommended 2-3 times a week. For children a regular meal pattern and eating together as a family is especially important for forming healthy dietary habits.

What is a food pyramid?

A food pyramid is a representation of the optimal number of servings to be eaten each day from each of the basic food groups. It is divided into layers of differing sizes representing the five common food groups, from the base upwards: fruit and vegetables. Starchy foods, such as bread, cereals, and potatoes. Proteins, such as meat, fish, eggs, and beans. Milk and dairy foods. Fats and sugars.

What is the food-based dietary guidelines (FBDGS)? 

They are science-based recommendations in the form of guidelines for healthy eating. They are intended for consumer information so they should be appropriate for a region or country, culturally acceptable and practical to implement. Moreover, they should be consistent, easily understood, and memorable.

Why it's important to have breakfast?

Breakfast restores glucose levels, an essential carbohydrate that is needed for the brain to function. Many studies have shown how eating breakfast can improve memory and concentration levels and it can also make us happier as it can improve mood and lower stress levels.

What could be a teenager’s breakfast?

Kids and teens have to eat the right foods from breakfast. Start off with some protein such as an egg, a few slices of cheese or a cup of yogurt. Adding ham or cheese to some scrambled eggs can provide the teen with the protein that she needs until lunch, according to the academy of nutrition and dietetics. Carbohydrates are important for energy levels, so whole grain oatmeal, toast or muffins can go a long way toward keeping your teen focused in class. Fruits such as pineapple, grapefruit and bananas can provide a source fiber for your child before school.

What is a healthy diet? / What is a good diet? / How to eat a varied and balanced diet?/ What foods should I eat every day?

A healthy diet is varied and balanced, consisting of foods from different food groups including vegetables, fruits and berries; whole grain products; dairy products; sources of unsaturated fats as well as fish, pulses, legumes, poultry and meat. Eat various foods from each food group. Aim to eat 500 grams of veg/fruit per day (e.g. 1,5dl of salad with both lunch and dinner, 1dl of cooked veggies, 1 medium size fruit, 1 dl of berries), fish 2-3 times per week and whole grain products daily.

Could you give me healthy breakfast ideas?

Add chopped fruit, nuts or seeds to cereal or toast; choose low-fat milk or unsweetened muesli with natural or low-fat yoghurt; grilled cheese on toast with tomato is a warming breakfast for cold mornings; if you have time for a cooked breakfast consider some lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, or beans; poach, boil and scramble eggs are a great filling breakfast and add variety.

Tips for having a healthy breakfast

A) prepare items the night before, for example chop some fruit and keep it in the fridge.

B) have the table set with the cereal ready to pour.

C) if you really don’t have time, prepare some items the night before to put in your bag.

What makes a healthier dinner?

It should include three or four foods from different food groups. Make the most of your time and money by cooking large amounts and freezing some individual portions to eat later. Some days may not go according to plan, so keep a well-stocked food cupboard. That way you'll always have some ingredients to hand to make meal.

Could you give me quick meals ideas?

Vegetable omelettes are quick and healthy; grill fish or meat or cook with stir-frying technique and lots of vegetables; pasta is a really versatile food –on its own with tomato sauce or add different types of vegetables and meats. Better with homemade tomato. Salads are an ideal quick meal option.

What is a healthy lunch?

What does a healthy lunch look like? Lunches, like any other meals, should be nutritionally balanced and enjoyable. An easy way to help build a balanced lunch is to include foods from at least 3 food groups (vegetables, fruits, grains, protein and dairy/calcium-rich foods).

My kids don’t like eating vegetables, how can I get them to eat them?

First of all, it is important to never force a child to eat anything. Make eating an enjoyable experience. Use some of the recipe suggestions here to make food fun, by making fun shapes with healthy foods. Or, mix the vegetables in with foods that they do enjoy.

How to get my child to eat more fruit and vegetables? My child doesn’t like vegetables/fruits – what should I do?

A child learns from copying others, therefore, it is important that adults act as role models. Often multiple tastings are required for a child to get accustomed to the taste of a vegetable and especially to start to like the taste. You can involve the child in the preparation of vegetables and fruits and help them explore them with different senses, for example explore some free vegetable e-books for children or take a look at the free game app mole’s veggie adventures designed to help children get to know vegetables and fruits.

How to get my child to taste/try new/more foods? My child is picky – what should I do?

New foods may require multiple tasting occasions for children to get used to the taste and start liking it. Children learn from copying others so what the parent does is more important than what they say. Eating meals together and encouraging children for the positive things in their eating is important, for example, praising the child for trying a new food, even if they didn’t finish all of their food. Engage the child in food growing, shopping, and preparation and their interest towards new foods will grow.

How can I reduce the amount of sugar my child gets? / is sugar harmful for children?

Children often get too much sugar in their diets. This is usually due to the added sugar in juices and fizzy drinks, flavoured milk products, sweets and chocolates. Milk or water should be drunk with meals instead of juice, but when choosing juice select ones low in added sugar. In addition, select yoghurts or quarks that are low in added sugar, such as unflavoured yoghurt and quark, and add some fruits instead. Children’s intake of sweets and chocolate should be limited.

2020-12-03 11:00:33 ASSIST Team ASSIST Team