A balanced diet is crucial for maintaining good health and preventing chronic diseases. The ideal diet is not just about the quantity of food but also about the quality of food consumed. Doctors recommend that we consume a variety of foods to provide the body with the nutrients it needs to function properly. However, it can be difficult to adopt a balanced diet when you are not familiar with what your body needs. Here are some tips to help you achieve a diet that allows your mind and body to thrive.
Fill your plate correctly
According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), there are five basic food groups—fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy— each of which provides unique nutrients that the body needs to function properly. It is important to consume a variety of foods from each group to provide the body with all the nutrients it needs. The average adult American should consume at least 2 cups of fruit and 3 cups of vegetables a day. You should also eat 7 ounces of grain, 6 ounces of protein, and 3 cups of dairy or plant-based alternatives such as fortified soy milk daily. If you need help, use the USDA’s MyPlate website and app to plan your meals.
Eat the rainbow
An easy way to make sure that you are eating a healthy diet is to include a variety of colors when choosing your fruits and vegetables. Plants contain different phytonutrients which give them their color. Different-colored plants are linked to higher levels of specific nutrients. For instance, there are many health benefits of mushrooms. These white and brown foods contain essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin B6, potassium, and selenium that have anti-inflammatory properties and can lower your risk of chronic diseases. Similarly, blue and purple foods such as blueberries have powerful antioxidants that may improve brain function.
Choose whole grains
Whole grains are unprocessed or minimally processed grains. Examples include brown rice, whole wheat, millet, and quinoa. Because they are less processed, whole grains contain more nutrients, antioxidants, and fiber than their refined counterparts. As they are more filling, they will help you stick to a healthy portion size. Furthermore, processed foods are often high in added sugars, salt, and unhealthy fats which contribute to weight gain, inflammation, and other health problems. While whole grains might have been previously limited to health food stores, most supermarkets now sell a variety of whole-grain bread, cereals, and pasta.
Control portion sizes
Portion sizes should be appropriate for your age, sex, weight, and level of physical activity. Eating too much of any food, even healthy ones, can lead to weight gain and other health problems. One clever way to control the amount that you eat is to use smaller plates. This can help to make your portions look larger and more satisfying. You can also plan your meals ahead of time and portion out your food in advance. Being mindful while you eat is another way to be more aware of how much you consume. Pay attention to your hunger and fullness cues, and eat slowly without distractions such as the television so you can truly savor your dining experience.
Drink plenty of water
Water is essential for many bodily functions including digestion and transportation of nutrients. Doctors recommend that we should aim to drink at least 8 glasses of water per day. In addition to keeping you hydrated, water helps regulate blood sugar levels and can help to prevent weight gain. In fact, one study found that people who did not drink enough water had a higher BMI and were more likely to be obese. Furthermore, proper hydration can help to reduce inflammation and remove harmful toxins that can contribute to health problems. Carrying a water bottle can make it easy to stay hydrated throughout the day.
Avoid excessive alcohol consumption
Drinking too much alcohol can lead to weight gain and other health problems. Drinks such as beer and cocktails can be high in sugar and calories. Excessive drinking can weaken the immune system, making it harder for the body to fight off infections and diseases. It can also cause damage to the liver and lead to debilitating conditions such as cirrhosis. Moreover, excessive alcohol consumption has been linked to increased blood pressure and a higher risk of several types of cancer. Therefore, while drinking alcohol in moderation may not be harmful to some people, excessive drinking should be avoided at all costs.
Consult a registered dietitian
Registered dietitians are licensed healthcare professionals who have completed education and training in nutrition science, making them a reliable source of nutritional information. They can provide tailored dietary advice based on your unique body condition, lifestyle preferences, and health goals. With the assistance of a dietitian, you can manage chronic diseases such as diabetes through diet and lifestyle changes. Their advice can also help you to achieve and maintain your ideal weight. Finally, a dietitian can provide you with the support and motivation to help you make sustainable and lasting lifestyle changes.
As the adage goes, you are what you eat. If you want a long and healthy life, you must pay attention to what you feed your body. By following the simple tips above, you can have a balanced diet and improve your health and well-being.