Eating a balanced diet is a very important part of leading a healthy lifestyle and feeling your very best, but it’s not always so easy to determine what a balanced diet really means. Essentially, no single food contains the nutrients and minerals the body needs to stay healthy, so you diet needs to contain a variety of food.
What’s more, your body needs a certain amount of calories per day to function properly. Eating more calories than your body uses can result in weight gain, as these calories will simply be stored as fat. While it can sound very confusing at first, achieving a healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet can be easier once you understand more. Wellbeing365 explain more.
Eating a balanced diet
A balanced diet essentially means that you are eating a variety of food in the right amounts, and making sure that you are getting the nutrients you need. This can be important to make sure you maintain a healthy weight and reduce your risk of health conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.
In some cases, good physical health can also mean you are able to maintain a healthier mentality too. Using fresh ingredients and being able to cook meals from scratch can be a great way to improve your diet, as you can be more aware of what’s going into your body.
Understanding the different food groups
Eating a balanced diet typically includes an understanding of the various food groups. To get the best variety of nutrients, try to choose different foods from these groups for each meal and snack.
There are 5 main food groups to consider in your diet. The first is fruit and vegetables, as they are a good source of vitamins, minerals and fibre. Fruit and vegetables should typically make up around a third of the food you eat every day. It’s important to eat around 5 portions a day. A portion counts as 80g of fresh, canned or frozen fruit and vegetables.
The second group is made up of starchy carbohydrates, including potatoes, bread, rice and pasta. Usually your meals are based on these foods, so consider choosing wholegrain or wholemeal varieties as they will have more vitamins and minerals.
Milk and dairy foods are another food group, and they are good sources of protein and calcium. Consider choosing lower fat or lower sugar options where you can.
The fourth food group is comprised of beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins. These types of foods are high in protein, although you should try to choose leaner cuts of meat. You should aim to eat two portions of fish a week, including oily fish which is rich in omega-3.
The final food group is oils and spreads. Try to make sure you’re eating mostly unsaturated oils and spreads, as this can help to keep your cholesterol low.
What to do if you’re overweight
Obesity is a common problem across the UK that affects both adults and children. You can use a BMI calculator to work out whether you are at a healthy weight, but you can also measure your waist to determine if you have excess fat.
Generally, being overweight is caused by eating more calories than you burn off throughout the day. It can be helpful to eat a calorie-controlled, balanced diet to help manage your weight, and take up activities like walking, swimming or even tennis for around 5 hours per week.
While there’s no quick fix for obesity, following a weight loss programme can help you to make long-term lifestyle changes that will also help you maintain the weight loss you achieve.