What is a balanced diet?
There is a myriad of health and diet advice that can be found out there – it can be quite complex and sometimes contradicting.
If we try and keep it simple though – a balanced diet is a diet consisting of a variety of different types of food and providing adequate amounts of the nutrients necessary for the good health of an individual.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is an important part of maintaining good health, and can help you feel your best.
Step 1 – It’s all about the veg!
Packed full of fibre and a whole host of vital nutrients. Fill at least a third, or even half of your plate with vegetables: raw, steamed, roast, mashed, stir-fried – however you like them!
Step 2 – Eat the Rainbow!
Aim to make your meals as colourful as possible. Different coloured vegetables and fruit contain numerous nutrients and eating the rainbow helps you to consume a variety of vitamins and minerals.
Step 3 – Swap beige for brown
Carbohydrates are vital for energy and wholegrain (complex) carbohydrates release energy slowly and provide valuable fibre. Choose wholemeal, rye or mixed grain/seeded bread, wholewheat pasta and noodles, brown rice and keep skin on potatoes.
Step 4 – Eat good quality protein
Our bodies require protein for growth and repair of muscles. Choose high welfare, quality fish and meat, free-rang eggs, tofu, beans, chickpeas, seeds and lentils. Fill around one-sixth of your plate (or a portion the size of your palm). Nuts and cheese are also great sources of protein, but they are also calorie-dense: choose a matchbox-size portion. Fill one third of your plate.
Step 5 – Dairy
Dairy provides essential calcium, protein, vitamins and minerals needed for strong bones, healthy teeth and skin, energy and to regulate metabolism. Choose, milk (cow’s, goat’s or plant-based) and fat-free natural yogurt (around one-sixth of your plate or a full glass) and cheese (see 4).
Step 6 – A little good fat
Fat is high in calories, but we still need a little in our diet as it’s essential for the absorption of some vitamins and fatty acids. Opt for unsaturated fats, such as olive or rapeseed oil, oily fish, avocado or nuts.
Step 7 – Limit sugar and salt
Avoid adding unnecessary salt to your food; taste it first! And try eating as little ‘free’ sugar as possible. ‘Free’ means that it’s an added sugar. Naturally occurring sugars in fruit, vegetables and milk are fine.
Step 8 – Water!
Drink plenty of water. Tap water is cheap and readily available. If you don’t like the taste, invest in a water filter jug and keep it in the fridge. Keep sliced lemons or limes in your freezer, to add a little zest to your water. You can experiment with different fruits too.
I look after communications and marketing at Dairy Diary. I’m a busy mum and love home baking and cooking for my family. In my spare time I enjoy visiting the theatre, eating out with friends and exploring the great outdoors!