Let’s review some balanced nutrition basics and key principles to help you maintain a balanced diet.
First, when someone talks about a balanced diet, what exactly do they mean? A balanced diet, or balanced nutrition means getting a variety of nutrients from different food groups in optimal amounts. This includes carbohydrates, proteins, fats, fruits, and vegetables. Consuming foods that contain each of these nutrients plays a vital role in making sure you have the necessary vitamins and minerals to keep your body healthy and functioning properly. Now, let’s dive deeper into the different food groups and how we go about achieving a balanced diet.
Carbohydrates, or carbs, are your body’s primary source of energy. This includes energy for your muscles and energy for your brain. Most of the time, opt for complex carbohydrates like whole grains, beans, and vegetables over simple carbs like refined grains or juice. Complex carbs provide a more prolonged energy supply and are rich in fiber and other nutrients, which are great for digestion, long-term health, and fullness.
* Carbs should take up about one-quarter of your plate.
Protein is essential for muscle repair and growth. Include lean protein sources like chicken, fish, beans, turkey, eggs, and tofu in your diet. Protein not only helps build strong muscles but also keeps you feeling full and satisfied.
* Protein should take up around one-quarter of your plate.
Fruits and vegetables should make up a good amount of your daily intake. Try incorporating them at all meals and some snacks to get at least 5 servings per day. They’re packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that boost your immune system and promote long-term health by reducing the risk of certain diseases. Frozen fruits and vegetables can be convenient to keep on hand since they don’t spoil as quickly as their fresh counterparts yet contain similar nutrients.
* Fruits and vegetables should take up around one-half of your plate.
Healthy fats are found in foods like avocados, nuts, ground flax seeds, fish, olive oil, and more. They are important for brain function and maintaining your overall health, especially heart health. Saturated fats are found in higher amounts in some processed foods and snacks, as well as dairy and animal products. Prioritize healthy fats by avoiding trans fats and limiting saturated fats.
Putting it all together, aim for a balanced diet with a mix of these nutrients. A typical plate should consist of one-half of vegetables and fruits, one-quarter of lean protein, one-quarter of whole grains, and prioritize healthy fats.
* Please note these general guidelines are variable based on age, gender, activity level, height, weight, and health goals. For example, someone who is highly active might need more from the grains group than someone who is not. For a little more guidance based on these factors, check out MyPlate Plan.
Listen to your body. If you currently have a good relationship with food, you can trust your body’s hunger and fullness cues. If you are hungry, eat more. If you are full, stop eating. Intuitively eating and enjoying all foods in moderation is key to maintaining a healthy relationship with food and maintaining your health.
In conclusion, balanced nutrition is about making sure you are eating a variety of food groups and nutrient-dense foods, being mindful of portions, listening to your body’s cues, and maintaining moderation in your diet with less nutritious foods. By following these basic principles, you’ll be well on your way to a healthier, more balanced life. Remember, small changes in your eating habits can lead to big improvements in your health over time.
This eating pattern may or may not be right for you based on your individual health goals. Talk with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian for an eating pattern that is personalized to you.