Is your diet balanced? Is it healthy? Or maybe it’s both?
What is a Healthy Diet?
Easy! A healthy diet is made up of fruit, veg, some meat and / or fish, low in fat with limited amounts of alcohol. Sounds good? Actually, it’s not too bad.
What is the difference between a healthy and a balanced diet?
A balanced diet is healthy, with extras thrown in for good measure.
What makes a Healthy Diet “Balanced”?
- A balanced diet provides the body with sufficient nutrients (macro – i.e. carbohydrates, fat, protein and micro – vitamins and minerals);
- A balanced diet provides the body with the right amount of energy (calories) – an imbalanced diet leads to weight gain or weight loss;
- A balanced diet includes sufficient fluids (mainly water) to keep the body well-hydrated;
- A balanced diet limits counter-productive foods such as sugar and salt.
- A balanced diet forms part of a healthy lifestyle which includes regular exercise.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) makes five recommendations:
- Consume the amount of calories your body requires to function;
- Limit your fats;
- Eat more fruit and veg;
- Limit your sugars;
- Limit your salts.
Why is a Balanced Diet good for you?
A balanced diet keeps you feeling good about yourself. You can enjoy good quality life, preventing diseases such as obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and some forms of cancer.
A balanced diet also provides you with high levels of energy. It gives you shiny hair and strong nails. Your skin looks plump and clear. Your waist line remains in check, without too much effort. Who’s complaining?
How do you “Balance” your Diet?
Most countries have their recommended dietary guidelines. These guidelines are set keeping culture in mind. So for example, the Eatwell Plate – the dietary guidelines for the UK – includes foods such as baked beans, crisps and porridge. The Mediterranean diet includes olive oil and wine in moderation. The Chinese dietary guidelines recommend a diet based on whole grains, fruit and vegetables with tiny portions of protein, dairy and fats. Both the Mediterranean and the Chinese guidelines recommend plenty of water as well as exercise.
All good, but how does this work for you?
- Establish your recommended calorie intake according to your lifestyle. If you have a sedentary job and you do not exercise regularly, your body needs less calories than a person who exercises seven days a week. A person who does not have a sedentary job also requires more energy to keep them going.
- Get your energy (calories) in the right amounts:
- 50-55% from carbohydrates
- 33-35% from fat
- 10-15% from protein.
- Drink plenty of water – recommended guidelines 1ml water / 1kcal of food you consume.
- Exercise regularly.
You are probably wondering how you can lose weight or maintain good weight when 50% of your energy intake comes from carbs.
Carbs are not only found in starchy foods such as potatoes, rice and pasta. You can get your carbs from fruit and veg. One important fact to bear in mind is that your brain requires carbohydrates. Carbs, in the form of glucose, are the only food the brain uses to function properly.
Balance out your healthy diet by eating a variety of foods in the right amounts. With the right food intake, water and exercise you’re on your way to healthy lifestyle.
Watch this space for more on the subject.
May thanks go to:
- The NHS UK
- Wikipedia – WHO
- Publishing Services UK Gov.
- NCBI – Journal of Zhejiang University Science
- Better Health Victoria Australian Gov.