A balanced diet is important because our organs and tissues need proper nutrition to work effectively. Without good nutrition, our body is more prone to disease, infection, fatigue, and poor performance. It also runs the risk of developing heart disease, cancer, or a whole host of other serious issues!
An unhealthy diet can take its toll on our brain and mood, disrupt our sleep, sap our energy, and weaken our immune system – something that we need to be as strong as possible, especially over the winter months!
I follow a balanced diet to ensure I get a range of nutrition that will benefit my whole body. But what exactly is a balanced diet? What do we need to consume and what are the benefits of eating these foods? With so much conflicting information out there, it can be so easy to lose sight of what a balanced diet actually is!
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 correct food and consume it in the right proportions.
The majority of your daily calories should come from:
- Fresh fruit – these provide vitamins and minerals
- Fresh vegetables – another source of vitamins and minerals
- Whole grains such as brown rice and buckwheat – these contain more fibre and usually more vitamins and minerals than white varieties
- Legumes such as chickpeas and lentils – these provide a source of carbohydrate, protein, and fibre
- Nuts – a great source of fibre and a good alternative to snack on
- Lean protein – an important food to allow the body to grow and repair itself and also another great way to get vital vitamins such as iron, zinc and B vitamins into your diet
It can be much easier than you’d expect to fit these items into your diet – have a sliced banana over your whole grain cereal, use wholemeal bread for your lunch and include a side salad, snack on nuts (in moderation, as they contain high levels of fat) and/or fresh fruit, eat lean protein for dinner with plenty of fresh vegetables and a carbohydrate such as brown rice (bonus points for including a legume). You can then and enjoy a piece of fruit with plain natural yoghurt after dinner. Then, as easy as that, you’re following a balanced diet.
It’s also important to eat the right amount of calories for your level of activity. For example, if you don’t perform a lot of exercise throughout the day, you’ll need fewer calories than someone with an active job. Men and women need different amounts of calories, as do certain groups of people such as those with specific health conditions, pregnant women etc.