What is a balanced diet? It is a diet based on the correct intake of nutrients into the body, along with the right quantities of food, according to how active you are.
A healthy balanced diet should comprise of:
- Plenty of fruit and vegetables
- Fish, meat, eggs and non-dairy proteins
- Controlled amount of bread, pasta, rice and other wholegrain starchy foods
- Some dairy foods, preferably low-fat varieties
- Pulses, legumes, beans for more protein
It is easy to follow a balanced healthy diet plan by following these instructions in order to keep your body in tip top condition. Moderation is the key in every good balanced diet and to a certain extent it is common sense.
The intake of the correct nutrients into the body can only benefit you if you are in good health,but if you are suffering from any form of illness, certain elements of the recommendations would have to be modified (i.e if you are for instance a diabetes, sufferer, intake of carbohydrates in dishes such as pasta and rice should be limited). Starch however, does give you energy to expend, so good exercise is important.
How to balance your diet?
Plenty of fruit and vegetables (the 5-a-day rule), oily fish, lean meats are all sources of vital nutrients for a balanced healthy diet, along with consumption of at least 6-8 glasses of water on a daily basis. Cutting down on saturated fat and sugary foods is also essential on a well balanced diet, as well as cutting down on foods high in sodium. Salt should be restricted to no more than 6g (2.4 sodium) per day. Too much salt increases the volume of body fluids and pushes up your blood pressure.
A balanced diet for weight loss?
Many doctors report that visitors to their health centres or surgeries claim that they eat a well balanced diet, so cannot understand why they do not lose weight. A good balanced diet must also control the amount of calories consumed, versus the energy expended in exercise and activities.
The following consumption breakdown is recommended for a balanced diet:
- Fat 30-35%
- Protein 15%
- Carbs 50-55%
A vegetarian wanting a nutrition balanced diet, can get enough of the above categories by eating the following.
- Leafy green vegetables (protein)
- All other vegetables (root vegetables and certain fruits such as bananas (carbs)
- Nuts and seeds (contain high levels of healthy fats).
Both men and women, and of course children benefit from eating a healthy balanced diet. Women have different daily nutritional requirements, mainly due to the difference in size. Calorie intake for the average female is 2,000 at the recommended level, but below 1500 if you are using a balanced diet for weight loss. But it is important to remember healthy balanced diets must include all the recommended nutrients in their correct proportions.
What do we mean?
For instance, cutting out fats to lose weight may work, but your diet then becomes ‘unbalanced’ as we still need healthy fats to make our bodies work correctly, and to ward off every day illnesses and diseases.
The time of day is also quite important as to when you consume certain foods. Kickstarting your day with a good protein based breakfast will speed up your metabolism. A mid-morning snack will regulate your blood sugar levels, whilst a lean protein and starchy carb dish is ideal for lunch.
Avoid snacking in the afternoon on sweet and sugar laden foods, and bring your energy back up by eating nuts or seeds to stave off those hunger pangs and dip in energy levels. Some oily fish with plenty of vegetables or salad is a great choice for finishing off your day with the evening meal.
It is a good idea to stock up your larder and fridge with ‘easy to grab’ foods, such as dried fruit, nuts and seeds, or cherry tomatoes, grapes and celery. This prevents that urge to put your hand in the biscuit jar, or wrestle with a packet of crisps! If you plan in advance, a balanced diet will work for you.