Keys to a Balanced Diet
Maintaining a balanced diet helps your body function at its best day in and day out. A balanced diet supplies your body with vital nutrients that give you energy, promote a good night’s rest, and assist in weight management. In addition, a balanced diet can prevent the onset of diseases, infections, and fatigue.
If you’re interested in how to have a balanced diet, read on to receive the insights and information you need.
The Definition of a Balanced Diet
According to Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), a balanced diet consists of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, fat-free or low-fat milk/milk products, and healthy oils (such as those found in seafood and nuts). If you are lactose-intolerant, you are encouraged to substitute dairy with lactose-free dairy or fortified soy options.
The more colorful your diet—think dark greens and colorful fruits—the more vitamins, minerals, and fiber you are putting into your body. Spinach, for instance, is rich in iron, fiber, potassium, folic acid, and magnesium, plus many vitamins. Dark berries such as blueberries contain dietary fiber, potassium, manganese, Vitamins C and K, and high levels of antioxidants and phytoflavinoids. The more you can “eat the rainbow,” the better you’ll feel.
Key #1: Pay Attention to Your Plate
DGA, in accordance with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has established an insightful resource called MyPlate. MyPlate has designed a visual chart to help people fill their plates with foods that are considered part of a balanced diet.
One quarter of your plate should be filled with fruits, especially whole fruits. Another quarter should focus on vegetables, and the remaining two quarters should feature a whole grain (bulgar or brown rice, for example) and a protein (such as poultry, seafood beans, or lentils).
As delicious as salty foods such as potato chips, or sugary desserts such as cookies can be, DGA recommends avoiding added sugars, sodium, saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol. This speaks to the fact that a balanced diet isn’t just about what you put into your body—it’s also about the foods you strive to keep out, or at least limit your intake of since many of these types of foods are overly processed and high in unhealthy fats and simple sugars.
Key #2: Consult a Dietary Reference Intakes Tool
Every person is unique, which means that every person’s nutritional needs will vary. A Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) tool can give you a general idea of how many calories and nutrient amounts your body requires per day. It’s designed to calculate these numbers based on the information you input, such as gender, age, and activity level. You can find this useful and informative tool here.
Key #3: Find Delicious Recipes
Another key to maintaining a balanced diet? Finding recipes you love based on the healthy foods you enjoy eating. There are many food blogs on the internet focused on providing recipes that promote a balanced diet. Make the recipes that sound most appealing to you so you can find your favorites and serve them regularly.
A Final Note About How to Have a Balanced Diet
Next time you’re out shopping, consider the items you’re purchasing. By making healthy choices at the store and/or your local farmer’s market, you can eat well at home and on the go. While it does take effort to maintain a balanced diet, it’s worth it. A balanced diet will improve your overall health and well-being so you can make the most out of your days.
Firelands Health: Here to Support You
Firelands Regional Medical Center is a not-for-profit medical center in Sandusky, Ohio. Our team is here to help you and to support your commitment to living a healthy, active lifestyle through a balanced diet. Firelands Center for Coordinated Care's Weight Management and Nutrition Clinic team can assist patients in their journey towards a healthy weight through a balanced diet. For more information about Firelands Health, or our health clinics, please visit our website.