What is a Balanced Diet
We talk about nutrition, how to fuel your body to provide all the nutrients that you need, not about diets. It’s not about eating rabbit food and cutting out food groups, it’s about having balance, and understanding methods that can help you achieve your goals.
If you reduce your calorie content, you should lose weight. But to do so healthily and gain all the nutrients that you need, the best way is to eat a balanced diet. This means eating the right quantity and types of all the food groups – protein, carbohydrates, fats and fibre.
Protein is essential to our diet, it provides the body with energy and is needed to make antibodies, hormones and enzymes to name but a few. You need a source each day as your body can not store it. You can gain protein from ingredients like meat, fish, eggs and dairy or from pulses, nuts, seeds oats etc. Protein is great in helping weight loss as it takes longer to digest and therefore keeps you fuller for longer so try and have some every meal.
Carbohydrates tend to give the body most of it’s energy. There are however different types of carbohydrates. The first type, simple carbohydrates can be found in sugar and products made with white flour, these can give you an instant energy boost but then send you into an energy slump afterwards. The second, complex carbohydrates can be found in wholegrains, rye, sweet potatoes, carrots, peas etc take longer to release glucose into the blood stream and therefore sustain energy, therefore not making you go for the biscuit jar so quickly.
Fibre is really important to digestion, the proper function of the intestines and helps to eliminate toxins and control blood sugar. Fibre can also make you feel full. Good ways to increase your fibre intake is by sprinkling seeds or chia on your breakfast cereals and salads, switching to wholemeal from white and eating extra vegetables, fruits & nuts.
Fat has had a bad reputation over the last few years, however it is necessary for our diets. Fat is a component of every cell in our body, it helps absorb a number of vitamins and is a source of constant energy. There are however different types of fat to be aware of.
- Saturated e.g. butter and coconut oil. Whilst you should not eat too much in your diet, they are good for cooking at high heat as they do not get damaged in the process.
- Mono-unsaturated fat e.g. olive oil and avocado. These feature in the Mediterranean diet and seem to promote good health. They are good for dressings and gentle cooking but best not used at a high heat.
- Polyunsaturated fat e.g. sunflower oil, oily fish, seeds and nuts. These are essential for body function as they contain omegas 3 and 6.
- Trans fats e.g. margarine. These fats have been damaged in processing and are therefore not as healthy.
So in general, avoid trans-fats, eat a small amount of saturated fat and plenty of Mono & Poly-unsaturated fats, whilst staying within your daily levels.