These days, healthy eating has become the least of our priorities. It only strikes us to eat better and start exercising when we start facing certain health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, arthritis, PCOS, etc. The only way to improve the quality of our lives is by making lifestyle changes. Eating healthy and being physically active will help us manage and prevent the above-mentioned diseases, and also improve our mental health by reducing stress and depression. Making small dietary changes by eating a balanced diet will surely provide many advantages.
What is a balanced diet?
A balanced diet gives our body the nutrients it needs to function correctly on a day-to-day basis. it means choosing a variety of foods from the different food groups which are:
- vegetables and fruits
- protein (meat, fish, eggs, beans, soy)
- dairy (low-fat milk, cheese, yogurt)
- carbohydrates (starchy foods like cereals, rice, pasta, potatoes and bread – preferably whole grain or wholewheat varieties)
- and a small quantity and a mix of different kinds of fats that include ghee, butter, blended oils, olive oil, peanut oil, mustard oil, etc.
- Drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated and help the body function better throughout the day.
A good way to remember how much to include each food on the plate is to aim for around half the food to come from fruits and vegetables, around one quarter to be protein, and one quarter whole grains and starches.
Foods to avoid or limit on a healthy balanced diet include:
- Highly processed foods
- Refined grains
- Added salt and sugar
- Red and processed meat
- Trans fats
Benefits of following a balanced diet:
- Helps fight off diseases and infections – When one eats the right quantity of vitamins and minerals in a day, they provide antioxidants to the body which improves the immune system and helps to prevent heart disease, cancer, and stroke.
- Helps to manage weight – it is not possible for one to stay on a diet forever. The only way to manage and keep the lost weight off or avoid excessive weight gain is to eat a balanced diet.
- Helps with growth and repair in the body – This is important especially for children, adolescents and elderly. When the body gets the right amount of the required nutrients, growth and development takes place at the correct pace. For elderly, the right amount of nutrients helps delay aging as the antioxidants and protein from food repair damaged cells and promote cell regeneration.
- Gives energy – The energy required to function is derived from the food and liquids we consume. If our food is majorly empty calories and low in quality without any fiber or vitamins, one may feel fatigued and sluggish, unable to carry out daily activities at full potential.
- Helps to get better skin and hair – It is scientifically proven that eating healthy food can significantly make skin look firmer, delay premature aging and make one look younger.
When trying to lose weight to achieve a healthier life, these are a few tips that can be followed on a daily basis to help one of any age to start shedding a few of those extra kilos:
- Portion control – Eating from smaller bowls, reducing the size of chapatis and eating in moderation.
- Eating food slowly – The stomach requires time to send signals to the brain which in turn generates signals of satiety. If one eats in a hurry, there will be consumption of more than the required amount of food which will lead to obesity. Also, eating fast can cause poor digestion which will lead to gas, bloating and abdominal pain.
- Eating healthy snacks – Snacks which are usually found in the market e.g chips, chocolates, farsan, etc. are loaded with empty calories and sugar. Swap these with healthier home-made and nutritious snacks.
- Try to manage emotional eating – This is one major problem which causes sudden weight gain in individuals due to eating more than what is required by the body. It may occur because of stress, hormonal changes and incorrect mealtimes. This can be helped by paying attention to the natural hunger cues of the body and developing other techniques to cope with stress and other problems.
Remember, the choices we make will define our future ahead. So, making healthy eating choices on a daily basis will give the energy needed throughout the day to work effectively and lead a healthy, happy and fulfilling life.
For further knowledge and guidance for improving your health, consult an online dietitian available on our website. A dietitian is a health professional who can provide advice on nutrition, food and healthy eating choices. You can get yourself a diet plan customized according to your needs. A step towards a healthy lifestyle is just a click away.