What makes a ‘balanced’ diet?

Hey everyone! I’m back again & I am going to try and write articles for you guys every Wednesday from now on so keep an eye out for updates. I got some really lovely feedback from my last post & I really hope it helped those of you that are interested or are wanting to know more about the subject area. If you haven’t checked it out yet, have a little look, I have discussed the possible causes of IBS & treatment strategies.

Today I wanted to discuss with you the concept of a ‘balanced diet’. What exactly does it mean when a health professional states the importance of achieving a ‘healthy balanced diet’ and how do we achieve this? When it comes to food & nutrition i’m not really all about the calorie counting, although this can be a very good objective technique to be able to keep a track of your food intake. Within my own diet, the objective is to eat real, wholesome food everyday & basically try not to eat the whole jar of peanut butter (maybe just half, as peanut butter is my weakness). I also think its really important to be mindful about what you are eating. Since starting my Instagram & taking pictures of my food, I’ve actually noticed I have so much more awareness of the food I am preparing and consuming (even if it does become cold before I get the chance to eat it sometimes). I’m not saying everyone has to set up their own Instagram or take pictures of each meal however, but I do think that actually understanding whats on your plate and taking attention of how much you eat can go a long way in helping you achieve a healthy diet.

The concept of a balanced diet includes a diet rich in both macronutrients and micronutrients. Essentially the macronutrients are your big food groups, including carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Your micronutrients are your smaller vitamins and minerals that are present within foods to a varying degree. A healthy diet should aim to have all these nutrients present in certain amounts. Both these nutrient food groups can be calculated according to your individual need, carbs, protein and fat can be calculated into grams per serving, depending on your individual calorie needs. This can be done by a registered nutritionist if you think this would be of benefit to you. Each individual works in different ways, for me, even though I am completing a masters of science degree, to give me anything remotely restrictive and quantifiable, I will immediately drift off into boredom & loose interest (which is why I struggle so much when i have to learn about dreaded statistics!!). Others however love to have quantifiable goals, so really understanding how you work & what works best for you, is a long way to achieving desired results.

Whether, like me, you prefer to make your food look pretty & just try not to eat everything in the fridge at once or you prefer to count calories and weigh your food at each meal, the concepts of a balanced diet are pretty much the same. I try and even out my plate into healthy fats, carbohydrates and protein, including fruits and vegetables. The department of health set guidelines as to how much of each of these nutrients you require in your diet to maintain optimum health. The current recommendations suggest you need 50% carbohydrates, 35% fats and 15% protein. The fats are again divided into saturated or mono & polyunsaturated fatty acids, you will know theses as the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ types of fats you will hear so much about in the media or maybe from your doctor.

Research indicates that saturated fatty acids in excess can lead to increased risk of heart disease and stroke. This is due to the build up of LDL cholesterol, as opposed to HDL. LDL cholesterol are the ‘baddies’ who due to current research can cause plaques and nasty stuff to form on the walls of your arteries & nobody wants that! The HDL can help assist in taking the LDL cholesterol away and make everything work as it should do again. The Saturated fatty acids are solid at room temperature (butter anyone?) whereas the mono & polyunsaturated are liquid, such as olive oil. Certain food types have more of these good types of fats than others, hold the beloved avocado. Anyway I’m going a little off topic here..

Basically if you keep in mind at each meal the percentage of the type of nutrient you should be eating, this will assist you greatly in achieving a balanced diet. There are also simple ways in which you can predict your portion size that you should be having from each food, but that’s a whole other article worth of information. You should aim for a quarter of your plate to be carbohydrates, a quarter to be protein and the rest to be full of your favourite fruits and vegetables. It also helps if your carbohydrate sources come from wholegrain foods, such as brown rice, pasta, bread. Protein can include meat products or vegetarian alternatives. The healthy fats can be incorporated through healthy oils, nuts, seeds or certain vegetables. Keep in mind that this is just a guideline however and you need to find what works for you in terms of the foods you eat. They need to be enjoyable and exciting to you & trying things because they are ‘healthy’ is always a good idea but if you don’t enjoy them its okay to find an alternative. Its not about perfection!

Anyway, I hope this gives you a good idea & an introduction into certain food types and sources. Remember all the information i post on here is just a guide and if you want further guidance please see a health professional, including a registered nutritionist/dietician before implementation into your lifestyle. Achieving a balanced diet can seem really daunting at first, but once you know how & with a bit of practice you can start to feel like its second nature & can be so easily incorporated into your everyday life.

If you have any questions again just give me a message & ill be sure to answer them.





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