Balanced diet… What does it really means ?
Balanced diet is one of those phrases we have heard so much that it seems to have lost most of its meaning. Doctors, fitness professionals and writers love to advise us all to eat one but in reality what does that actually mean? And with a huge range of diets actually advising us against certain food groups it can be impossible to know where to begin. I wanted to share with you what a balanced diet means to me to help you achieve balance in your own eating plan!
Balanced diet…equals variety !
For me a balanced diet equals variety, that means eating a range of foods from all food groups eaten in the right proportion. By food groups I mean fats, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and water. It also means that no food group or food type is the enemy. So yes some fat can be good and no carbs are not the enemy (I’m looking at you here Atkins). Many extreme diets that encourage the elimination or dramatic reduction of one food group either won’t give you everything your body needs to thrive or will leave you miserable and hungry. Trust me – I have been there.
Balanced diet…equals proportion !
Proportion is a key word in this balancing act and this is the part where some people go wrong. So just what are the right proportions? Fruit and veg should make up around a third of your diet and this will be the source of a large number of your vitamins and minerals. Carbs, so bread, rice, pasta etc. should also make up a third. Milk and dairy come in at just 15% with meat, fish eggs and the none dairy proteins at around 12%. Finally, high fat and high sugar products should make up less than 10% of your food intake.
So far so balanced right? Well, sort of, while it’s easy for me to tell you that you should eat a certain amount of a certain food stuff how do you even start to monitor that in your diet? There are a couple of ways to keep track of those elusive proportions. The first is a food tracking app of which there are several out there and can give you a very accurate break down of your food intake. The less technology heavy way to achieve a balanced diet is to think a little harder about what you are putting on your plate. When preparing a meal fill over half of your plate with fruit, veggies or salad alongside preferably wholemeal carbs. Allow around a fist sized portion of protein and relegate those very fatty or sugary foods to an occasional treat.
Finally, a note of caution, processed food can often hide food groups especially sugar and fat. So choose whole unprocessed foods, wholemeal carb sources and lean fresh meat to keep your balanced diet on track. Remember that what you are drinking counts too and keep alcohol and sugar filled drinks to a minimum whilst taking in plenty of water.
By following these simple guidelines on balanced eating you will feel fuller, healthier and you will give your body the proper fuel to support a kick ass exercise routine. So get balanced and feel amazing!