“Eat your vegetables.” Remember your Mother’s introduction to a balanced diet, to “eating right”?
We all have a basic understanding of a balanced diet, from the grade school food pyramids to the new “my plate”, but what makes up a balanced diet? Why is it important? And how is it possible to eat a balanced diet in today’s modern, hectic world?
In simplest terms, a balanced diet involves eating the right combination of foods in the right proportions and portions. Foods contain macronutrients (fats, proteins and carbohydrates) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). A balanced diet combines these essential nutrients in the proper proportions which vary by individual and dietary requirements and goals.
As an example, a bodybuilder would eat more protein than fats or carbs, a distance runner would eat more complex carbs than proteins and fats, and an individual who wants to lose weight would most likely reduce carbs and balance healthy fats and lean proteins. All three of these individuals would also benefit from proper portion control as well.
Importance of a balanced diet. A balanced diet promotes health and helps maintain healthy weight. A balanced diet will provide the nutrients your body uses as energy and to maintain your basic metabolic functions like your heart beating and lungs breathing. Proper diet also promotes digestive health, increases immunity and helps build strong muscles and bones.
Tips to balance your diet. Healthy eating and balancing your diet doesn’t have to be complicated. It could be as simple as eating a few more servings of fruits and vegetables and fewer servings of fast foods and fries, small changes that can make a big difference to your health. Here are some simple “changes” to get you started:
- Eat a variety of natural and wholesome foods, fruits, vegetables, fish, lean proteins and healthy omega-3 fats. Eat more single ingredient foods like an apple, banana, potato.
- Limit your processed and pre-packaged convenience foods. By pass the drive-up windows and pizza deliveries and learn to shop for and prepare quick healthy meals.
- Reduce your sodium intake and increase your potassium, less salted snacks and more bananas and sweet potato fries.
- Reduce your sugar consumption. Break your addiction to sweets and their refined grains, overly processed flour and added sugar. Watch out for liquid sugars in colas, sodas, bottled juices and those syrupy coffee drinks.
- Eat your smaller, healthier meals more often and on smaller plates. Six small meals over the course of the day will stabilize your blood sugar (and insulin) levels. Using smaller plates and bowls will help with portion control, reducing the amount of food consumed at each meal. Avoid serving “family style” meals and buffets.
- Drink water. Replace unhealthy and sugary drinks with water. Drink a glass of water before each meal to aid digestion and consume fewer calories.