A balanced diet is often mentioned especially in relation to living a healthy lifestyle. However, if you lack any healthy eating habits, to begin with, you may encounter certain challenges while trying to eat a more balanced diet. The truth is: in order to do that, you have to know what you’re actually balancing, and many people still don’t know that. Eating a diverse and balanced diet is important as it gives your body a chance to use a wide variety of nutrients that it needs to function properly. Now, this doesn’t mean you have to start eating foods that you dislike, but it’s certain that there are changes you’ll need to implement.
So if you’re thinking about improving your diet and living a healthier lifestyle, then here are some tips on how to create a balanced diet first, as that is the first step you’ll need on your journey.
What is a balanced diet exactly?
As you may know, a balanced diet is a diet that consists of different types of foods and ingredients that your body needs. That includes, of course, proteins, fats, and other types of foods rich in calories, like fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Also, it’s important to consume enough calories, especially if you exercise on a regular basis. However, not all calories are the same, which is why it’s important to learn the difference. There are foods such as cookies, pizza, cakes, sweets, snacks, and generally sugar that are high in calories that have no nutritional value. These types of calories are also known as empty calories, and they should be avoided. Instead, it’s best to consume foods that are nutritionally dense and healthy.
What foods are important for a balanced diet?
Some food groups are so important that they should never be ignored, especially if you’re trying to eat more healthily. These foods are:
- Fruits, such as whole fruits, can also be frozen, but not drenched in sugary syrups
- Refined and whole grains such as oats, quinoa, barley, brown rice, and millet
- Dairy and plant-based dairy products such as high-fat cheese, yogurt, low-fat milk, and soy milk
- Vegetables, most importantly leafy greens, legumes (beans and peas), starchy vegetables (potatoes and corn), peppers, and eggplants
- And of course, protein foods such as chicken, fish, lean pork and beef, and legumes
These food groups will help you diversify your diet and keep it balanced and healthy, by providing you with enough micro and macronutrients. A balanced diet consists of approximately 50 or 60 percent of carbohydrates, 15 to 20 percent of protein, and 30 percent fat. This is due to the fact that human organs, tissues, and cells require all these nutrients in order to maintain ideal body weight and keep you healthy in the process. Of course, you should never forget about other important aspects of a healthy diet, such as fats and oils.
How to include fats and oils in a diet to make it healthy?
Maybe you’ve grown up to believe that all foods fatty and oily are bad for your health. If that’s the case, then rest assured knowing that fats and oils are actually beneficial to you, if consumed correctly. Greasy fast foods are often the bad poster child for fatty foods, and that is the farthest thing from the truth. There are a lot of types of fats, and some of them contain fatty acids that your body cannot naturally produce by itself.
So, in order to learn more, it’s best to check out what are the most healthy fats and then choose those that align with your preferences and personal tastes. Luckily, there are many oils such as coconut and sunflower oils that would likely positively affect your diet if you decide to start using them.
Also, when choosing fats, make sure to go for unsaturated fats, as they can reduce inflammation and provide enough calories. On the other hand, trans fats should be avoided as they increase the risk of heart diseases and diabetes.
Still, eating the right way matters a lot
Like we said previously, learning the basics of a healthy and balanced diet is critical, but if you want to implement all the knowledge, it’s also important to change your eating habits. Skipping meals isn’t recommended, so if you happen to be busy, it’s best to eat a smaller portion of healthy food than to eat nothing at all. Also, try looking into mindful eating, a concept where taking time to eat and slowly chew your food can also help your body process it better.
Another important aspect of a healthy diet is being emotionally and mentally balanced. Sometimes, feeling anxious or overwhelmed can lead to emotional eating, and cause further health issues. Knowing how to deal with unwanted emotions is a sure way toward building healthy eating habits.
Acceptance is the way to be
In order to see the full benefits of your new way of eating, it’s also essential to accept yourself first. We all have flaws and other things that cause us grievance, and these things should never influence the way we see ourselves.
Therefore, if you choose to eat better, be sure to do so as it will help you feel good about yourself, not because of weight loss and other superficial things. Healthy and gradual weight loss is important, but to pull it off, you need to be focused and healthy. Besides, if weight loss is your only goal, then you should consult a dietician and your physician, so you’ll have a safety net to rely on.
The way you eat can tell a lot about you as a person. A healthy and balanced diet packed with nutrients is the sure way to turn your life around for the better. Still, learning about that takes time, which is why it’s important to go slowly. Pressuring yourself into these things won’t actually help you. Finally, keep in mind that eating a wide variety of nutrients, and being moderately physically active will be of great help, as long as you stay focused and motivated.