Building a balanced diet sounds easier than it really is. Nowadays, people are so confused when it comes to buying and eating only healthy food, that they lose track of the fact that some of the things they’re eating aren’t particularly helping them.
That’s why we’re here. Because one can get sometimes lost reading about diets or scavenging online for balanced meals, we are here to show that it’s as easy as the proverbial pie.
What Is, In fact, a Balanced Diet?
First of all, let’s get one thing straight. A balanced diet doesn’t mean that you should refrain from eating certain food groups just because you read an article about how unhealthy it can be.
It’s true that some food groups, like red meat, for instance, tend to be unhealthier compared to fish or grains, but the real enemy is not having enough diversity or eating one or two food groups and ignoring the rest.
There’s also the small matter of diets. You probably heard words such as “keto,” “TLC,” “ayurvedic” or “paleo.” But what does it all mean?
Well, for once, it’s all about individual benefits. For instance, plans like the Lazar Angelov diet will offer some custom tailoring based on your life. Basically, this whole thing means that your diet will be placed under scrutiny and, based on factors such as genetics, lifestyle, and medical background, they will tell you how much to eat and when to do it.
Of course, a balanced diet is only part of the equation. Eating healthy is for naught if you have a sedentary lifestyle. Meal planning should complement an active life. And no, doing two push-ups in the morning or going to work on foot each day doesn’t count as working out. Try to come up with a plan that puts both things in balance.
With the right kind of exercising, eating healthy food won’t be that hard. In fact, it would feel natural. With that out of the way, we can now talk about other pressing matters – how to plan your meals.
Meal Planning 101 – The Dos and Don’ts
As you know, there are five major food groups:
- milk and dairy products
- fruits and veggies and
- fats and sugars
Each has their own benefits and downsides. Now, a properly planned diet includes all five groups, without any falling to one side or to the other. Don’t kid yourself thinking that this is going to be easy – figuring out how to eat healthily is as difficult as asking yourself who you are.
Still, there are things that can help you make the right calls. So, without further ado, here’s what you need to do in order to balance your diet.
1. Don’t skip meals
There are main meals per day – breakfast, the most important because it helps you get through the day, lunch, and dinner. The basic rule of eating healthy is to avoid skipping the important meals.
And no, a cup of Joe and a lit cigarette don’t count as breakfast.
Now, for your body to get everything it needs, you should also fit two more meals per day. For instance, you can try a quick snack between breakfast and lunch and another one between lunch and dinner. No midnight snacking because that’s bad for your heart.
Now, the most important rule is to always make time for breakfast. We know that it’s more tempting to lie in bed for a couple of more minutes before going to work and grabbing something on the way, but this just won’t cut.
Do yourself a favor and eat all of your daily meals.
2. Homecooked Meals are the best
Cooking your own food is not only about learning a new skill. It’s about figuring what your body needs to stay in tip-top shape. Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from eating at a restaurant, but don’t make too many exceptions. Plan your meals as to include all major groups.
There’s also the matter of meal diversity. For instance, if you had pasta with a side of meatballs on Monday, it’s not particularly good for your health to eat the same type of food for the rest of the week.
Try to throw in some veggies and whip yourself a nice veggie taco. Or try some fish or even pasta. It’s all up to you.
3. Don’t let ingredients spend too much in the fridge
If eating healthy is your summer goal, then you should know that food tends to lose its nutritious values if it’s kept too much in the freezer. To ensure that your body gets all the nutrients it requires, you should use the ingredients as soon as you return from the store.
We know how hard it is to get into cooking after returning home from work, but none of this was ever easy.
4. Buy a crockpot
No, it’s not a fad, it’s actually the best way of making sure that your food stays delicious and nutritious. Crockpots will always be sound investments, no matter the type of food you’re into.
Still, it’s pretty hard to figure out what to cook and when to cook. But with a little bit of research and some help, you will manage to cook healthy meals for you and your family in no time.
Crockpots are not that expensive, meaning that you can probably find a good quality one at your local hypermarket.
Based on recommendations and references from satisfied customers, find one that suits you:
5. What about fruits and veggies?
A healthy and whole diet comprised of fruits and vegetables can prevent a myriad of diseases, such as stroke, heart disease, and, yes, even cancer. But do we really know how many fruits and veggies we should eat each day?
Well, here’s a shocker – for a balanced meal, you must eat five portions of fruits and veggies. It’s not that hard – eat a banana in the morning and a salad after that. The combinations are almost infinite. Again, it’s all up to you to make the right choice.
6. How about starchy food?
Of course, one cannot ignore the benefits of a starch-rich diet. The benefits are more than one can count – they’re packed with fibers, vitamin, and minerals, and not to mention the fact that they’re downright delicious if you have a good cookbook.
For more diversity, you should also consider adding some whole grain and/or wholemeal starchy foods such as higher fiber white bread or brown rice.
7. Milk and Dairy Products are your bones’ best friends
Because we just can’t resist the urge of talking about dairy products, you should consider eating/drinking milk-derived products.
This includes skimmed milk, yogurt, and cheese. Dairy products are packed with calcium, the very same chemical element that allows your bones to grow and develop. You should eat at least three servings of dairy per day (that means three cups).
8. Are meat and fish allowed?
Of course, they are. In fact, it’s highly recommended to eat one serving of lean meat per day like a skinless chicken breast. As far as fish is concerned, you should consider eating oily fish at least two times a week.
Moreover, for a truly balanced diet, you could also include two portions of regular fish each week.
9. Eat according to your age group
For a healthy lifestyle, you must keep those calories within the age limit. For instance, if you’re a 30+ active man, your daily calorie intake should be between 2,000 and 3,000.
On the other hand, sedentary men belonging to the same group should eat no more than 2,400 calories per day. For active women over 30, the daily calorie intake is the same as in the case of men.
10. Of Sodas and Liquid Calories
As you know, foods like fish, meat or bread aren’t the only ones that contain calories. So, if you want to make a positive change in your eating habits, you should really learn to stay away from sweetened beverages.
Apart from the fact that they’re packed with sugar, some of them, like Coca-Cola or Dr. Pepper, contain half the number of calories a healthy adult should consume each day.
As you can see, there are a lot of things to take into account if you want to balance your diet. Advice such as eat five meals per day or more fruits and veggie might sound redundant, but considering how erratic modern life is, the chances are that you’ll totally ignore one or more of them.
This type of change is not the same as buying a new car or upgrading your computer – it’s something of paramount significance, something that will more than likely change your view on life and yourself.
Before we leave, we have one more thing to share with your – home cooking. While there are tons of recipes and online advice on how to do that, it would be better if you would ask someone to show you the ropes. Maybe your friend or, better yet, someone from your own family.