Eat a balanced diet, that’s what everyone tells you, but what exactly is a balanced diet? Well, the simplest answer is, a little bit of everything will do you good! Ideally, you should be eating something from each of the five main food groups, every single day. Those groups are: vegetables, fruit, grain, meat and fish, and dairy. Here are ten tips and how you can eat a healthy and balanced diet:
1. Go for variety
There actually is no such thing as bad food; the bad thing is to eat too much of a single type of food. So the key to a healthy diet is variety. Try and include one of each of the five food groups, mentioned above, in your daily meals and you will be eating a balanced diet.
2. Cook your own food
The easiest way to control your diet is to cook your food yourself. When you prepare your own food, you have full control over the ingredients, the portion sizes and the amount of salt and sugar that you add to your food.
3. Eat plenty of raw fruit and vegetables
Most people do not get enough fruit and vegetables in their diet. The general rule of thumb is that you should be eating at least five portions of fresh, raw fruit and vegetables every day. Different vegetables also have different nutritional values, so vary the types of fruit and vegetables that you eat as well.
4. It’s ok to enjoy a treat once a week
There is nothing wrong with having a treat or eating fast food occasionally, so long as you don’t live off it! A fast food treat, once a week is fine and the best type of fast food is pizza, because you can load it with vegetables.
5. Increase your carbohydrates
Carbs give you energy. There are two types of carbs: simple and complex. Simple carbs give you quick energy, while complex carbohydrates take longer to be digested by your body and provide you with energy at a much slower rate. The modern, convenience diet can also be too low in carbohydrates, so make sure that you are including plenty of food such as sweet fruit (source of simple carbs) and whole wheat pasta and brown rice (sources of complex carbs) in your diet. Choose whole grain foods, when you can, as these will provide you with more complex carbohydrates and fibre too.
6. Reduce the amount of fat in your diet
Too much fat in your diet will add inches to your waistline, clog your arteries and cause heart disease as well. Always select natural sources of fat, such as avocado, nuts, seeds and natural oils to keep your overall fat intake low. Avoid prepared foods that are high in saturated fat content, such as pizza, sausage, cookies and diary desserts.
7. Eat small portions more often with more variety
Remember, variety is the key. Reduce the individual portion sizes and add, for example, another raw vegetable in its place. Steak and fries might taste great, but steak, less fries, and a mixed salad, would be far better for you.
8. Two portions of fish a week
Aim to eat fish, twice a week. Fish is a high protein food that also brings other benefits, such as omega-3 fatty acids that are essential for healthy skin and hair, as well as being good for the heart. Remember though that canned fish is not always as healthy, as it might appear, so check the label for added salt and other ingredients.
9. Watch what you drink
Like your food, you should think moderation and variety, when it comes to drinks too. Moderate your intake of alcohol, coffee and soda, and drink at least eight glasses of water every day.
10. Eat regularly
Quite simply, the more meals you eat in a day, the more variety you can have. Don’t skip meals, because that will lead to more unhealthy snacking and when you do have a snack, choose something healthy like a piece of fruit or some nuts or seeds.