Nutrition is a basic prerequisite to sustain life.
Variety in food is not only the spice of life but also the essence of nutrition and health.
A Balance diet consisting of several food groups provides all the required nutrients in proper amounts.
This type of diet is called balanced diet.
A balanced diet is a diet that contains divergent types of foods in certain quantities and proportions so that the bodily requirement for calories, proteins, minerals, vitamins and alternative nutrients is adequate and a small provision is reserved for additional nutrients to endure the short length of leanness.
Biologically, a balanced diet is defined as a diet consisting of adequate amounts of all the necessary nutrients recommended for healthy growth and for efficient daily activities and functions.
In simple words, a nutritionally balanced diet fulfills all nutritional needs of the body. A balanced diet should offer around 60-70% of total calories from carbohydrates, 10-12% from proteins and 20-25% of total calories from fat.
Why balanced diet?
A well-balanced diet provides the human body with essential nutrients needed to allow the body to effectively perform different activities.
Without balanced nutrition, the body is more susceptible to fatigue, infections, diseases, and reduced activity.
On the other hand, children should have a balanced diet containing different nutrients in order to avoid impaired development and growth, different infections, and low academic performance.
Children who do not consume enough healthy foods are most likely to develop persistent unhealthy eating habits into adulthood.
Eating well ensures proper nutrition that keeps the body active and healthy.
A healthy proper diet protects the body against non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes that are the most common leading causes of death. It also protects the body against malnutrition.
Lack of physical activities and an unbalanced diet are global health risks. In order to avoid weight gain, calorie intake should be balanced, the intake of saturated fats should be minimized, and decrease salt intake. Increased intake of saturated fats elevates blood cholesterol levels and eventually increases the risk of heart disease development.
Eating and drinking large amounts of sugars increase the risk of tooth decay and obesity. Too much salt may increase blood pressure, which consequently increases the risk of developing a stroke or heart disease.
Benefits of a balanced diet
Healthy eating increases energy, improves the way your body functions, strengthens your immune system and prevents weight gain. Additionally, it
- Meets your nutritional need.
- Prevents and treats certain diseases.
- Following a special diet can reduce symptoms, and may help you better manage an illness or condition.
- Makes feel energetic and manage your weight.
5 food groups
A balanced diet plan should include all daily nutritional requirements from five groups of food; they are vegetables, fruits, grains, protein, and dairy.
Different groups of food provide us with the needed calories to do our daily activities.
However, consuming calories more than the body needs will eventually lead to unhealthy weight gain because extra calories are not consumed but stored in the body as fats.
The total calorie intake should include less than 10% of it from free sugars added to foods or drinks. Fats should represent less than 30% of the total intake of energy as you should have a low-fat diet.
Balanced diet to Healthy diets
Today’s concept of diet intake has largely shifted from Balanced diet to Healthy diet. Concept of balanced diet has been upgraded with the following principles to make them healthy diets:
- Energy control
- Nutrition density
A healthy diet will combine all the nutrients and foods groups mentioned above, but you need to balance them, too.
A handy way to remember how much of each food group to eat is the plate method. The USDA’s “ ChooseMyPlate ” initiative recommends:
- filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables
- filling just over one quarter with grains
- filling just under one quarter with protein foods
- adding dairy on the side (or a nondairy replacement)
A varied and healthy diet is usually one that contains plenty of fresh, plant-based foods, and limits the intake of processed foods.
If you have questions about your diet or feel that you need to lose weight or change your eating habits, schedule an appointment with your doctor or a dietitian.
They can suggest dietary changes that will help you get the nutrition you need while promoting your overall health.
The Food Pyramid
The food pyramid is actually a graphical representation, in the form of a triangle, of nutritional standards.
It indicates the quantities and types of food needed daily to maintain the health status and to prevent or reduce the risk of development of eating disorders.
The food pyramid is designed to make healthy eating easier.
Healthy eating is about getting the right amount of nutrients – proteins, fats,carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals that you need to maintain your good health.
Because different foods have different nutritional values, it is not possible to get all the nutrients we need from a single food.
According to the Healthy Food Pyramid, a variety of foods should be consumed from all food groups, as well as within each group, to obtain different nutrients and to meet our daily needs. Eating too much or too little is not good for our health.
Every day, we need a specific amount of nutrients to maintain optimum health. If we do not eat enough, sub-nutrition and symptoms of various deficiencies appear; obesity can be achieved when we consume an excessive amount of any kind of food.
General guidelines for healthy eating:
- Never skip any meal. Skipping meals lowers your metabolic rate. Normal eating includes 3 major meals and 2 snacks between meals. Also, never skip breakfast. It is the foremost vital meal of the day.
- Learn simple ways to prepare food. Healthy eating doesn’t have to mean complicated eating.
- It is important to stop when you feel full.
- Drink lots of water. Keep a bottle of water near you while working, watching TV, etc.
- Variety of foods should be used in the menu. No single food has all the nutrients.
- Eat five portions of fruit and vegetables every day.
- Keep a supply of healthy snacks to hand.
- Remove all visible fat from food before you cook it.
- Limit stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol and refined sugar.
- Limit the number of times you eat out to once a week.