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Balanced Diet – Foods to Eat and Avoid


A balanced diet is key to maintaining a healthy weight and good health. It goes without saying that your body needs all the nutrients from foods to function correctly, such as carbohydrates, protein, fats, minerals, and vitamins. Therefore, a balanced diet contains foods of different varieties, quantities, and proportions to meet your body’s nutritional requirements.

While a balanced diet does not discriminate between food groups, you must have the right knowledge and guidance when eating “energy-rich but nutrient-poor” foods. 

There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to a balanced diet. Since everyone has different nutritional needs, the right diet for good health varies from person to person. However, following a holistic diet that covers all the essential food groups and is low in unhealthy nutrients is an excellent way to live a healthy lifestyle.

What is a Balanced Diet?

A balanced diet comprises the right proportion of foods from all the major food groups to provide the body with ideal nutrition. In general, it offers around 60-70% of total calories from complex carbohydrates, 20-25% of total calories from healthy fats, and 10-12% from proteins.

However, these values differ based on individual requirement and various other factors.Following a healthy, balanced diet gives you enough energy, macronutrients, and micronutrients to stay healthy. 

The most important rule of balanced eating is to eat all meals without skipping any meal small or big. For a healthy average adult, a well-balanced diet typically includes three main meals and two snacks between meals. However, the food groups’ proportion can be adjusted or modified based on your specific needs or health issues (if any). 

A personalised balanced diet is vital since the bodily response to all foods is highly individual. Therefore, certain foods in one person’s “good” diet can be part of another’s “bad” diet. Instead of blindly following the universal dietary advice you see on the internet, HealthifyMe can help you with personal dietary recommendations after considering multiple factors.

For instance, HealthifyPro Continuous Glucose Monitoring and modern algorithm can successfully monitor your blood sugar response to different foods.

With the help of these values and your other parameters, qualified dieticians customise your diet to match your body’s needs and avoid potential adverse reactions to certain foods.

The CGM device shows you how food affects your overall health in real-time and empowers you to make more informed decisions about your meal planning on a day-to-day basis. It unequivocally can lead to better long-term health outcomes.

Calories in a Balanced Diet

The ideal amount of calories in a balanced diet depends on whether you’re trying to maintain the current weight, lose weight, or gain weight. If you want your weight to stay consistent, eat roughly the same amount of calories your body uses. 

The number of calories you need each day depends on many factors, such as age, gender, level of physical activity, and metabolism. For example, athletes who engage in high-intensity workouts require more calories than sedentary people.

Similarly, pregnant women or adolescents going through a growth spurt need more calories than older adults. Therefore, a balanced diet that provides the right calories for your specific needs is crucial for overall fitness and well-being.

Why is a Balanced Diet Important?

The simple answer is eating a balanced diet helps you maintain good health and feel your best. While some people, such as athletes, may require additional dietary supplementation, most of us can get everything the body needs by eating various foods.

In addition, studies show that the foods you eat profoundly impact your mental and physical health. So, your body becomes more vulnerable to chronic diseases, infection, and fatigue without balanced nutrition. 

Here is why nutritionally balanced diet is essential for every individual:

Helps Control Weight

Fad diets will come and go. A balanced diet is the only way to control and maintain your weight for the  long term.

A balanced diet may not result in weight loss as it does not focus on fat loss, rather it focuses on maintaining the current weight while giving appropriate nutrients for your body to function well.  

Prevents Diseases and Infections

A balanced diet can safeguard you against chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and heart disease.

In addition, the vitamins and minerals in a balanced diet build a robust immune system to fight infections. 

Improves Your Mental Health

Some studies suggest a close relationship between diet and mental health. For example, a diet high in glycemic load may trigger depression and fatigue through hormonal imbalance.

On the other hand, a balanced diet rich in vegetables, whole fruit, and whole grains improve the function of neurotransmitters and hormones, which enhances a good mood. 

Maintain Brain Health

A study says that consistently following a balanced diet regime may protect us against cognitive decline and dementia.

It is due to the appropriate amounts of vitamin D, vitamin C, vitamin E, and omega-3 fatty present in balanced diets. Getting the right mix of nutrients also promotes growth and better skin and hair.

What Makes Up a Healthy, Balanced Diet?

A balanced diet is a varied diet enriched with essential nutrients. However, eating a balanced diet can be simple. An excellent place to start is by incorporating five servings of fruits and vegetables into your daily routine. 

Here are the five major food groups you should include in your diet for optimum health:

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruit and vegetables are an integral part of any balanced diet. They are abundant in fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, essential for keeping the body healthy.

Fruit and vegetables should make up just over one-third of your daily diet, roughly five servings of different seasonal fruits and vegetables together per day.

Let’s take a peek at the colourful fruits and vegetables:

  • Red, orange, or yellow vegetables like tomatoes, bell peppers, carrots, sweet potatoes, and pumpkins are rich in lycopene, antioxidants beta carotene and vitamin C.
  • Purple and white vegetables like red cabbage, eggplant, cauliflower, mushrooms , berries, grapes rich in potassium, vitamin B, C and E.
  • Greens like spinach, brussels sprouts, beans, peas, and broccoli rich in vitamin A, C, K and, fibre.

Starchy Foods

Starchy foods or carbohydrates are the body’s primary energy source, making up roughly one-third of your diet. Therefore, it is essential to understand the different types of starchy carbohydrates and choose healthier options to maintain a balanced diet. For example, replace processed foods with whole grains.. 

Choosing unrefined starchy carbs helps maintain digestive health and gives you more fibre, vitamins and minerals. Moreover, a study shows that whole grain consumption (rather than refined grains) reduces your risk of heart disease and type-2 diabetes.

Dairy

Dairy is the most well-known source of calcium and protein. For a balanced diet, go for low-fat or fat-free dairy options. Furthermore, eat fat-free flavoured yoghurts in moderation since they often contain added sugar.

If you are vegan, allergic, or intolerant to dairy, there are plant-based alternatives derived from soy, nut, oat, or rice. Also, choose fortified plant-based dairy to make up for the vitamins and minerals usually present in animal milk. 

Protein

Protein, the storehouse of essential amino acids, must be one-eighth of your balanced diet. Protein rich foods not only help us in building muscles, but also boost our haemoglobin. Therefore, make sure to include varied protein sources.

It can be vegetarian sources such as beans, moong dal, urad dhal, paneer, tofu, nuts and seeds. For the non-vegetarians, good protein sources include eggs, oily fish and meat.While choosing meat, opt for  lean cuts such as chicken and turkey and cut down on processed meats.. 

Healthy Fats

Fats are an essential part of a  balanced diet and contribute to about 15-20% of daily caloric needs.

They are also a significant energy source and help the body store and provide vitamins and synthesise hormones. However, it is essential to remember to use fats in moderation.

While fat is an essential macronutrient, you need to be mindful of the type and amount of fat you consume. Always choose unsaturated fats over saturated fats. Saturated fats are present in red meat, pork, butter, margarine, cheese and coconut oil.

Studies have shown that consuming too much of these foods can increase your heart disease and stroke risk. You can keep your heart healthy by choosing unsaturated fats from nuts, seeds, vegetable oils and fatty fish.

Read more: Best Types of Fish to Eat and Avoid

The HealthifyMe Note

A balanced diet comprises foods from the five food groups: fruits and vegetables, starchy carbohydrates, protein, dairy and healthy fats. You are unlikely to include all five in every meal, so the aim is to achieve a healthy dietary balance across the day. This balance can be achieved by following a well planned balanced diet plan designed by a qualified nutritionist.In addition to solid foods, ensure that you drink at least 6-8 glasses of water daily since hydration is equally important. 

Foods to Eat and Avoid in a Balanced Diet

Foods to Eat

  • The vegetable group must include leafy greens, legumes or beans, starchy vegetables, and other colourful vegetables.
  • Nutritious protein choices include skinless poultry, lean beef and pork, fish, beans, peas, and legumes.
  • Eat low-fat dairy and soy products such as ricotta or cottage cheese, yoghurt, soy, or low-fat milk.
  • Healthful whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, oats, barley, and buckwheat
  • Fresh fruits, not juices, such as apples, berries, bananas, stone fruits, kiwi, melons, pomegranates, and other seasonal fruits you like

Foods to Avoid

Some of the food groups to avoid in a balanced diet include:

  • Processed foods
  • Refined grains
  • Alcohol
  • Added sugar and salt
  • Fatty cuts of red meat and processed meat
  • Trans and saturated fats
  • Packaged foods and beverages.

The plate method is an easy way to balance the food groups:

  • Half your plate with fruits and vegetables
  • Over one quarter with grains
  • Just under one quarter with protein
  • Adding dairy or a non-dairy replacement on the side 

Sample Balanced Diet Charts for You to Try

Remember that the following plans are based on an average adult’s standard weight and activity level. If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, make sure to follow the advice of your doctor or nutritionist.

A Balanced Vegetarian Diet Chart 

With careful planning, a vegetarian diet can ensure daily requirements for nutrients such as calcium, iron, zinc, vitamin D, vitamin B12, healthy fats, and protein.

Day #1

  • Breakfast: Oatmeal bowl with fruit slices of your choice
  • Lunch: 1 cup of cooked brown rice with a bowl of dal, sabji and salad
  • Dinner: 1 cup rajma + 1 cup cucumber raita + 2 chapati 
  • Snacks: 1 cup buttermilk + 5 almonds + 3 walnuts/ multigrain fat free khakra with tomato onion salad as a topping.

Day #2

  • Breakfast: 2 Idlis with vegetable sambar + green tea without sugar and milk
  • Lunch: low fatpaneer curry (3 pcs) + 2 roti or 1 bowl of rice+ salad
  • Dinner: 2 medium stuffed roti (vegetable/dal) + 1/2 bowl curd+ salad
  • Snacks: 1 cup watermelon + 5 almonds + dark chocolate (about six small pieces or two large squares)/ sprouts salad.

Day #3

  • Breakfast: 1 bowl of poha + 1 glass fruit yoghurt smoothie(without sugar)
  • Lunch: Stir-fried vegetables with brown rice + roasted tofu
  • Dinner: Stuffed eggplant + 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • Snacks: 1 glass buttermilk  1 cup chana chaat/ mixed vegetable tikki with curd dip.

Day #4

  • Breakfast: 2 besan chilla + 1 cup sprouts salad + 
  • Lunch: Vegetable rice with one bowl of soya curry
  • Dinner: Homemade vegetable burger with baked sweet potato fries
  • Snacks: Steamed corn with black tea or coffee/ tossed green salad with cottage cheese/ sliced apple

Day #5

  • Breakfast: Upma with chutney  + bowl of cut fruit.
  • Lunch: 2 chapatis with a bowl of soya chunks curry + sabji + salad  or 1 bowl of vegetable khichdi + 1/2 cup yoghurt + sauteed soya chunks
  • Dinner: 1 cup quinoa with grilled veggies such as carrots, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, broccoli and bell peppers 
  • Snacks: Fruits salad/ Boiled chickpea salad

Day #6

  • Breakfast: A glass of lemon water + 2 Uttapam with coconut chutney
  • Lunch: A burrito bowl with brown rice, chickpea, salsa, flaxseeds, and other seasonings of your choice
  • Dinner: Bean soup with Greek yoghurt
  • Snacks: Brown bread sandwich with paneer filling/ Unsweetened fruit smoothie

Day #7

  • Breakfast: 2 medium-sized dosa with chutney + sambar
  • Lunch: 2 whole wheat chapatis + mixed vegetables curry + grilled mushrooms or paneer
  • Dinner: Mixed vegetable rice with bean sprouts salad +  tossed soya chunks
  • Snacks: Tea with less sugar and milk + 2 digestive biscuits/ whole wheat toast + mixed fruits salad

A Balanced Non-Vegetarian Diet Chart 

Day #1

  • Breakfast: Egg vegetable omelette (2 eggs) + 2 brown bread slices
  • Lunch: 2 roti + chicken curry with less oil + mixed vegetable salad
  • Dinner: 1/2 cup chana palak curry + 1/2 cup brown rice + cucumber carrot salad
  • Snacks: Tea/Coffee/Green Tea (1 Cup) + 4 almonds + 2 walnuts / Bowl of cut fruits

Day #2

  • Breakfast: 1 cup poha + 1 glass Tulsi tea + overnight soaked almond (5-6 pieces)
  • Lunch:  A bowl of mixed vegetable rice  + 1/2 cup of sprouted beans + 3-4 pieces of pan-seared chicken
  • Dinner: 2 roti + 1/2 cup dal (lentil/mung/chana)+ salad/sabji
  • Snacks: 2-3 wholegrain crackers with one slice of low-fat cheese/ crushed fruits slushie without sugar  

Day #3

  • Breakfast: 1 glass low-fat milk + 2 boiled eggs + 2 pieces of multigrain/bread
  • Lunch: Roti/Rice + sabji + chicken (gravy/dry)
  • Dinner:  2 medium stuffed roti (vegetable/dal)+ 1 bowl of raita
  • Snacks: Frozen fruits (bananas, berries, or mangos) blended with peanut butter and Greek yoghurt 

Day #4

  • Breakfast: Granola and fruit parfait
  • Lunch: Fish curry (2-3pcs) + rice (1 bowl)+ sabji or salad
  • Dinner: chicken sauteed (3 pcs) with mixed vegetable soup
  • Snacks: A banana drizzled with two teaspoons of melted dark chocolate 

Day #5

  • Breakfast: Multigrain bread with peanut butter + 1 serving of seasonal fruit + 1 glass of milk
  • Lunch: Grilled salmon or mackerel + 1 cup brown rice + 1 cup any veg curry
  • Dinner: 1 cup of quinoa rice with grilled vegetables and baked sweet potato wedges
  • Snacks: 1 cup of fruit salad/  Chicken salad with bell pepper (1 quarter plate)

Day #6

  • Breakfast:  2 large eggs (poached or boiled) on whole grain toast with 1 tsp spread of choice + 1 cup of black coffee
  • Lunch: Whole grain pasta with a tomato-based sauce and chicken
  • Dinner: 2 tuna/chicken/turkey sandwiches
  • Snacks: A handful of nuts (30g) +1 cup of green tea/ bowl of mixed fruits with chia seeds and yogurt. 

Day #7

  • Breakfast:  Rolled oats with milk + fresh fruit 
  • Lunch: Roasted vegetable, chicken & quinoa salad
  • Dinner: Grilled chicken (using olive oil) with mashed sweet potato and steamed vegetables
  • Snacks: 1 cup yoghurt topped with 1 tbsp mixed seeds/ sprouts chaat

A Balanced Vegan Diet Chart

Many people opt for vegan diet plans for various reasons, such as health, environmental or other personal preferences. A vegan diet excludes all animal products from the diet plan, including milk and milk products.

Instead, it focuses on plant-based foods and beverages. It’s essential to track your body’s response when transitioning to a new diet, especially a vegan diet, to ensure you’re getting the right mix of macro- and micronutrients.

Day #1

  • Breakfast: 1 cup sprouts salad + 2 stuffed paratha 
  • Lunch: 1 cup vegetable fried rice + grilled soya chunks
  • Dinner: 2 tofu and vegetable sandwiches 
  • Snacks: 1/2 cup roasted chickpeas + 1 glass of coconut water

Day #2

  • Breakfast: 1 cup steel-cut oats with veggies + 1 cup of almond milk
  • Lunch: 1 cup of bean salad + 1 cup quinoa buddha bowl
  • Dinner: 1 1/2 cups Moong dal khichdi +  mixed vegetable salad
  • Snacks: 1 cup of edamame in pods or one medium apple

Day #3

  • Breakfast: 1 glass of strawberry pineapple smoothie + 1 bowl of overnight oats
  • Lunch: 2 chapati + 1/2 cup moong dal + sauteed mushrooms
  • Dinner: 1 cup of vegetable vermicelli + Boiled chana salad
  • Snacks: 1/2 cup of dry-roasted nuts and seeds of your choice

Day #4

  • Breakfast: Tea with dairy-free or plant-based milk + 2 idli/ uttapam with sambar 
  • Lunch: 2 medium-sized vegetable wrap with mint chutney
  • Dinner: 2-3 stuffed besan cheela + vegan yogurt + salad
  • Snacks: 1 medium orange/ sprouts steamed

Day #5

  • Breakfast: 1 glass banana berries smoothie made with unsweetened soymilk + 2 vegan pancakes
  • Lunch: 2 avocado toast with fried tomatoes
  • Dinner: 2 cups mixed greens + 1/2 cup tofu stir fry + 1/2 cup rice
  • Snacks: 2 cups of air-popped popcorn/ sauteed boiled chana salad

Day #6

  • Breakfast: 2 slices of peanut butter and banana topping toast + 1 glass of lemon water/ besan cheela with mint chutney
  • Lunch:  1 cup quinoa + 1/2 cup chickpea curry/ brown rice with dal + sabji/salad
  • Dinner: 1/2 cup roasted cauliflower + 2 small whole-wheat bread slices + 1/3 cup hummus
  • Snacks: 1/2 cup of boiled corn and carrots + 1 cup of green tea

Day #7

  • Breakfast: 2 aloo paratha + mint coriander chutney + cup of mixed fruits  
  • Lunch: 1 cup brown rice + 1 cup soy bean curry + 1/2 cup salad 
  • Dinner: 2 chapatis + 1 cup mixed vegetable curry +  sprouts salad
  • Snacks: 1/2 cup chana chaat + 1 cup black tea or black coffee

Pro Steps for a Healthier You 

If you are struggling to fit into a new eating plan or wish to modify your diet to a balanced one, HealthifyMe coaches can advise you on a felicitous diet plan. .

The Pro Coaches will help you find the right foods based on your unique needs and personal qualities, such as age, gender, lifestyle, and health conditions.

HealthifyPro also comes with a Smart Scale to help you achieve your desired weight through tried and tested approaches to weight management. 

Ria, the interactive AI, can guide you throughout the entire process of losing/ maintaining weight. And based on your metabolic parameters and Smart Scale readings, your health coach will make the most suitable and sustainable modifications to your diet.

These modifications may include improvements to your eating habits, changes to the types or amounts of food, or adjustments to your level of physical activity. 

Here are some pro tips for having a balanced diet every day:

  • Limit the intake of refined, processed foods and cut down on extra sugar and salt.
  • Watch what you eat. Refrain from eating mindlessly or while doing other activities like watching tv, playing video games etc..
  • Fix meal times and adhere to them.
  • Choose whole grain bread instead of refined one.
  • Increase your protein intake, but do not go overboard
  • Drink enough water
  • Bake, boil, steam, or roast instead of deep frying
  • Try at least one healthy recipe a day

Conclusion

The benefits of eating a balanced diet go beyond weight management. It uplifts your physical, emotional and mental well-being. Conversely, if you have an unbalanced diet or are deprived of healthy foods, there are high chances of facing chronic diseases, infection, and fatigue. With HealthifyMe, find what works for you and infuse your diet with nutritious and healthy options. 

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