A balanced diet is one that gives your body the nutrients it needs to function correctly. To get the proper nutrition from your diet, you should consume the majority of your daily calories in:
The number of calories in a food is a measurement of the amount of energy stored in that food. Your body uses calories from food for walking, thinking, breathing, and other important functions.
The average person needs to eat about 2,000 calories every day to maintain their weight. However, a person’s specific daily calorie intake can vary depending on their age, gender, and physical activity level. Men generally need more calories than women, and people who exercise need more calories than people who don’t.
The following examples of daily calorie intake are based on United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines:
- children ages 2 to 8 years: 1,000 to 1,400 calories
- girls ages 9 to 13 years: 1,400 to 1,600 calories
- boys ages 9 to 13 years: 1,600 to 2,000 calories
- active women ages 14 to 30 years: 2,400 calories
- sedentary women ages 14 to 30 years: 1,800 to 2,000 calories
- active men ages 14 to 30 years: 2,800 to 3,200 calories
- sedentary men ages 14 to 30 years: 2,000 to 2,600 calories
- active men and women over 30 years: 2,000 to 3,000 calories
- sedentary men and women over 30 years: 1,600 to 2,400 calories
The source of your daily calories is just as important as the number of calories you consume. You should limit your consumption of empty calories, meaning those that provide little or no nutritional value. The USDA defines empty calories as calories that come from sugars and solid fats, such as butter and shortening.
According to the USDA, Americans consume empty calories most often in:
- energy drinks
- fruit drinks
- ice cream
- sports drinks and sodas
A balanced diet is important because your organs and tissues need proper nutrition to work effectively. Without good nutrition, your body is more prone to disease, infection, fatigue, and poor performance. Children with a poor diet run the risk of growth and developmental problems and poor academic performance, and bad eating habits can persist for the rest of their lives. Learn more about healthy meal plans for kids.
Rising levels of obesity and diabetes in America are prime examples of the effects of a poor diet and a lack of exercise. The Center for Science in the Public Interest reports that 4 of the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States are directly influenced by diet. These are:
At the core of a balanced diet are foods that are low in unnecessary fats and sugars and high in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. The following food groups are essential parts of a balanced diet.
Besides being a great source of nutrition, fruits make tasty snacks. Choose fruits that are in season in your area. They’re fresher and provide the most nutrients.
Fruits are high in sugar. This sugar is natural, though, so fruit can still be a better choice for you than other foods with added sugar. If you’re watching your sugar intake or have a condition such as diabetes, you may want to opt for low-sugar fruits. Read on to learn about the 11 best low-sugar fruits, from citrus to peaches. People who are watching their carbohydrate intake may reach for fruits such as melons and avocadoes.
Vegetables are primary sources of essential vitamins and minerals. Dark, leafy greens generally contain the most nutrition and can be eaten at every meal. Eating a variety of vegetables will help you obtain the bountiful nutrients that all vegetables provide.
Examples of dark leafy greens include:
According to the USDA, Americans consume refined white flour more than any other grain. Refined white flour has poor nutritional value because the hull of the grain, or outer shell, is removed during the refining process. The hull is where the majority of the grain’s nutrition lies.
Whole grains, however, are prepared using the entire grain, including the hull. They provide much more nutrition. Try switching from white breads and pastas to whole-grain products.
Meats and beans are primary sources of protein, a nutrient that is essential for proper muscle and brain development. Lean, low-fat meats such as chicken, fish, and certain cuts of pork and beef are the best options. Removing the skin and trimming off any visible fat are easy ways to reduce the amount of fat and cholesterol in meats. The health and diet of the animal are important and influence the fatty acid profile of the meat, so grass-fed choices are ideal.
Nuts and beans are good sources of protein and contain many other health benefits, as well as fiber and other nutrients. Try to eat:
Tofu, tempeh, and other soy-based products are excellent sources of protein and are healthy alternatives to meat.
Dairy products provide calcium, vitamin D, and other essential nutrients. However, they’re also major sources of fat, so it may be best to choose small portions of full-fat cheeses, and reduced-fat or fat-free milk and yogurt. Plant-based milks, such as those made from flaxseed, almonds, or soy are typically fortified with calcium and other nutrients, making them excellent alternatives to dairy from cows.
Oils should be used sparingly. Opt for low-fat and low-sugar versions of products that contain oil, such as salad dressing and mayonnaise. Good oils, such as olive oil, can replace fattier vegetable oil in your diet. Avoid deep-fried foods because they contain many empty calories.
The USDA has an online checklist that can help you determine how much of each food group you should consume daily.
Besides adding certain foods to your diet, you should also reduce your consumption of certain substances to maintain a balanced diet and healthy weight. These include:
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.
A balanced diet is a key to healthy lifestyle. A balanced diet should contain all right foods in right
quantities like carbohydrates, high fibre content, water, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals. Most people spoil their health by taking unnecessary food items. If you want to lead a healthy lifestyle, eating healthy food is crucial. You need to know what to eat and what to avoid in order to be fit and healthy. A balanced diet is not all about eating the right foods, but having them at correct time in right proportions. The following article will deal with the importance of a balanced diet for a healthy lifestyle.
Increase the liquid intake into your body:
Fluids are very essential for human body to lead healthy lifestyle. Nearly 80% of human cell is filled by water; water is a co-factor in many of the metabolic activities and reactions. According to health experts at least two to three litres a day is essential. Try to minimize the intake of tea, coffee, and alcohol.
Eat fresh vegetables and fruits everyday:
Maximize the intake of fresh fruits and vegetables which will help avoid many health disorders. Fresh food will provide good source of fibre and vitamins which are essential for body growth. Avoid consuming deep fried and overcooked vegetables. Your balanced diet should contain all five elements which are bitter, pungent, sour, sweet, and salt. Avoid eating processed food and packed food which may wipe out nutrients.
Make time to chew food: Healthy eating starts with smart eating. Most people do not recognize the importance of chewing as it is essential to digest many of components. In reality half of the digestion will be finished in buckle cavity. Make sure that you eat slowly rather than swallowing, it will also help you to enjoy the actual flavour and taste of the food.
Avoid eating excess food: Avoid eating when you don’t have appetite, if you want to stay active and healthy. Excess food may lead to overweight in the long run.
Avoid stress during eating: Avoid eating while working or watching TV which could disturb your concentration. It may lead to heartburn and colitis, if you eat with stress. If you want to know more about health, you can read health related magazines, search through various health related websites.
You can even hire a diet expert to advice on your diet. If you are paying his monthly fees with your credit card, make sure that it has insured with payment protection insurance. PPI reclaim will get activated to pay on your behalf, if you are unable to pay the credit card bills on time due to unemployment or disability.
Author bio: Lucy is a fitness and nutrition expert from Bristol in Britain. She is also a freelance writer and writes about health and fitness articles for blogs.