A balanced diet involves more than just meeting your nutrition needs––it’s a personal plan that balances with your likes, your dislikes and your lifestyle. Being in a nutritional balance means that you consume just the right amount of calories, macronutrients and micronutrients from your diet. In an optimal nutritional state, all of your nutritional needs are met without exceeding your caloric needs. Maintaining a stable healthy weight, having low blood cholesterol and healthy blood-pressure levels are just a few signs of being nutritionally balanced. If you notice sudden weight gain or lack of energy, it may be time for you to adjust your diet.
A balanced diet will not be the same for everyone. Everyone is different and often, individuals will require a different amount and type of nutrients. What you need will vary and will depend on age, gender, lifestyle, illness and the rate at which your body works.
We’re all on a diet every day. We each have our own dietary habits and patterns that make up our usual “diet.” Sometimes we make changes to that diet––often to cut down on our calories––in which case we might say we’re “dieting” or “on my diet” (that is, until a few weeks later…when we’re “off our diet”).
In order to get the proper nutrition from your diet, we should obtain the majority of our daily calories from:
- fresh fruits
- fresh vegetables
- whole grains
- lean proteins
- 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.
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. Bad eating habits can persist for the rest of their lives.
Building your diet is similar to constructing your house. You start with the basic foundation, you build up your supporting structures, and then you add the finishing touches to personalize it, and make it uniquely yours. If you were building a house from the ground up, you’d have a budget. Similarly, if you’re building your diet, the first thing you need to know is how many calories you have to work with. Just as houses come in all different sizes, so do people and their calorie requirements. Calorie needs are individual to you, and are determined, in large part, by your body composition and the amount of activity you get. You can’t plan out what you’re going to eat until you have an idea of your daily calorie needs to help you achieve your dietary goals (whether it’s to lose weight, gain or stay the same).
Your diet needs a strong foundation. Ideally, the core of your diet will be made up of lean proteins, health carbohydrate sources (in the form of vegetables, fruits and whole grains), and modest amounts of beneficial fats. Your goal is to divide up your calories from protein, carbohydrates and fats in a way that suits your needs. Personalize your nutrition plan by picking and choosing the foods you’ll eat that work with your likes and dislikes, your lifestyle, your budget––while still meeting your nutrition goals. Usually about half your calories are going to come from carbohydrates. The other half will be, more or less, roughly divided between protein and fat. The proteins, carbohydrates and fats you eat, along with the vitamins and minerals personalize your nutrition plan by picking and choosing the foods you’ll eat that work with your likes and dislikes, your lifestyle, your budget––while still meeting your nutrition goals.
Personalization is really the key to success. Focus on choosing the healthy foods that you enjoy the most. What really matters is the overall quality of your diet. And with so many healthy foods out there, there’s no shortage of items to pick and choose from. It wouldn’t be “good” if you felt uncomfortable every time you walked into your own home––if it didn’t feel like “you.” Similarly, a diet is only “good” when it’s good for you––because it nourishes you, and because it just feels right. And once you feel natural and comfortable with the diet that you can “call your own,” your weight should take care of itself.
Whatever you do don’t skip breakfast as this sets your blood sugar off on a roller coaster, which means you’ll end up choosing the wrong foods later in the day. Remember breakfast makes an important contribution towards your daily intake and it plays a key role in maintaining a healthy weight.
It may sound simple, but with so much information available, messages can become unclear. Facts become fads and knowing what is good for you can be misunderstood.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is an important part of maintaining good health, and can help you feel your best. The most successful “diet” is a nutrition plan that works for you day in and day out, provides your body with the nutrients it needs and includes foods that you enjoy eating. It’s a diet that works with your lifestyle, that you can follow for the rest of your life and is uniquely yours.
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