What is a balanced diet? This seems like an easy eating habit or a diet plan which is only needed when you are sick or in a weight loss plan! But this, not the reality. A regular eating habit that is not balanced or lacking in nutrients can lead to many different health problems. An unhealthy eating habit can create problems with the function of vital organs and lack of growth and development and lack of energy.
If you like to eat vegetables it seems good, but eating only one type of food is not sufficient to produce all the vitamins and nutrients you need. So we all need a proper plan or consciousness of what are we consuming in our daily life. So, let us know in details, what is a balanced diet and why it’s important.
A balanced diet is a diet that provides our body all the nutrients in order to function correctly. it’s not like a crash diet but a well-planned diet. It covers the micronutrients like protein, carbohydrates, and fat along with vitamins and minerals. We should obtain the majority of our daily energy from fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
Apart from breastmilk as a food for a baby no other any single food contains all the essential nutrients or vitamins for the body to work properly or avoid deficiency of any kind of vitamins or minerals. So, our daily meal should contain a variety of different foods from different groups.
For a balanced diet the best way to choose a variety of foods from each of the 6 food groups every day:
1. fresh vegetables and legumes (beans)
2. fresh fruits
3. grains and cereals
4. protein( lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, legumes (beans) tofu, nuts, seeds)
5. milk, cheese, yogurt or alternatives
6. fats and oils
The amount of each food you need will vary during your life, depending on factors such as how active you are and whether or not you are growing, pregnant, breastfeeding and more.
How many calories are in a proportion a food is a measurement of the amount of energy that stored in that food. We use calories for our daily functions like walking, breathing, thinking etc.
foods and drinks provide us the calories we need to execute our daily life. but taking more calories may cause weight gain. Because when we consume extra calories than we need, our body will store them as a fat.
How much energy do you need depends on what is your age, gender or how active you are. On average, women should have around 2.000 calories a day and on the other hand Men generally, need more calories than women which are around 2,500 calories in a day. People who work out need more calories than inactive people.
Here are United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines for daily calorie intake for different age and genders.
1. Children of 2 to 8 years age need 1000 to 1400 calories per day
2. Girls of 9 to 13 years of age need 1,400 to 1,600 calories
3. Boys ages 9 to 13 years need 1.600 to 2,000 calories.
4. Women from 14 to 30 years of age who are active need 2,400 calories per day
5. Sedentary women ages 14 to 30 years need 1,800 to 2,000 calories
6. Active men from age group 14 to 30 years need 2.800 to 3,200 calories
7. sedentary man from age group 14 to 30 need 2,000 to 2,600 calories
8. Men and Women from age over 30 years and who are active need 2,000 to 3,000 calories
9. Men and Women from age over 30 years and who are not active need 1,600 to 2,400 calories
Without proper nutrition, our body may be affected quickly by several diseases, infections, fatigue, lack of energy and feeling tiredness. Children with a poor diet may suffer from growth and development problems. In the long run, this can affects their academic results and other physical and mental performance.
A study of The Center for Science in the Public Interest shows that 6 of the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States are directly connected to an unhealthy diet. These are:
1. Heart disease
4. Type 2 diabetes
6. High Blood Pressure
There are six types of nutrients we need to survive that is proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water. We need proteins, carbohydrates, and fats in large amounts. That’s why these foods are called macronutrients. On the other hand vitamins and minerals are classed as micronutrients as they are required in small amounts. Water is another macronutrient that we need a large amount because every day we lose so many waters through urine, farces, and respiration.
If we make a search for what is a balanced diet? we will found that the following food groups are essential parts of a balanced diet.
Dairy is essential in a healthy and balanced diet to provide calcium for strong bone, hair, and nails, as well as protein and vitamin D. Dairy foods, are naturally high in saturated fat so always choose low-fat varieties.
dairy includes- milk, yogurt, cheese etc. You can consume Soy or nut-based milk or calcium supplements in your diet if you are not comforted with dairy.
Dietary Guideline: we need three cups of reduced fat dairy in a day.
Fruits are low in calories but high in fiber and nutrition. Dried fruits and fruit juices are also included in this group. As dried fruits and juices are concentrated source of calories so their proportion in your meal should be controlled.
If you are watching your sugar consuming than low sugar fruits or citrus fruits are a better option for you.
Dietary Guideline: We need 2 cups of fruits in four serving in a day. 1/2 cup of juice and 1/4 cup dried fruits are equivalent to 1/2 cup of fresh fruit.
If you want to know what is a balanced diet and what is on a balanced diet, vegetables are one of the great parts of a balanced diet. Dark, leafy green vegetables contain the most nutritious, essential vitamins and minerals.
Try to include at least 5 colors vegetables in your meal as different color vegetables are rich in different vitamins.
Dietary guideline: 2 and 1/2 cups per day in 5 servings. 2 cups of salad greens are equivalent to one cup.
Proteins are essential for proper muscle and brain development. Remove the skin and any visible part of fats from the meat. Chicken, fish, beef, eggs, lentils, pes nut and seeds are a great source of protein. Tofu, tempeh and soy-based other products are also a good source of proteins.
Meat and poultry are high in iron and eggs contain a multiple of vitamins and minerals. fishes are rich in omega three fatty acids.
Dietary guideline: we need 5 to 6 ounce per day depending on our age and gender. 1/2 cups of cooked beans, 1 egg, 1/2 ounce of nuts are equivalent to one ounce of meat or fish
fats are necessary for a balanced diet for the function of our body. Try to avoid saturated and trans fats as they are unhealthy. vegetable fats are good such as canola, olive, sunflower oil.
Fats contain a high amount of calories so keep added fats to a minimum amount.
Dietary guideline: 5 to 7 teaspoons per day. keep in mind fat intake shouldn’t exceed 20-30% of daily calories. Some fruits also contain fats like avocado, peanuts, olives so be aware of that.
Oats, brown rice, wholemeal and whole grain bread, wheat, barley are in grains and cereal foods. They contain protein, dietary fiber, minerals, and vitamins.
dietary guidelines: We need 3 ounces or more per day. One slice of bread, one cup of cereal, 1/2 cup of cooked rice, pasta are equivalent to one ounce.
One last question is what is a balanced diet plate? The good news is that’s pretty simple. A balanced meal covers the three core food groups is quarter of proteins, quarter carbohydrates, and half vegetables.
Now you sure what is a balanced diet and why this is so important! So balancing our food habit is important. If you are on a weight loss journey don’t skip any group of the foods. You have to just balance it according to your food habit.