The key to losing weight, keeping excess weight off, and being healthy is a balanced diet. Having the right amount of food from the five distinct food groups is the main principle behind a balanced diet. The main food groups are carbohydrates, proteins, vegetables and fruits, milk and dairy, and foods high in sugar and fat. It is important to realize that each of these five food groups is not equal. In fact, consuming any one of these food groups in excess isn’t recommended. Also, inducing into a diet that comprises of one-fifth sugary and fat laden foods is certainly a big no-no!
In any balanced diet, the largest part of food intake should be of the carbohydrate group. It should make up for around one-third portion of your daily intake as an average person. Carbs for the person is like fuel for the body. Hence, someone that is quite active like a sportsperson or anyone having an active lifestyle may require increasing the carbohydrate percentage in their overall diet. Lack of sufficient intake of carbohydrate will cause an impact on the health and well-being of an active person, thus isn’t the same for an average individual with low activity level.
Fresh fruits and vegetables should make up for approximately another third of a balanced diet. The remaining third should consist of proteins, milk and dairy products. There should only be a small percentage of dietary sugars and fat intake. Hence, this is just the part that requires discipline. Here is a detailed insight into each of these five food groups to understand a ‘balanced diet’ better:
Carbohydrates – Foods rich in starch such as breads, rice, potatoes, and pastas fall into this category. The fuel food group that actually provides the body with the energy to operate on an everyday basis makes up for about 30% of your overall diet. It is recommended that you choose whole grain bread, rice, and pastas over their white refined counter-parts whenever possible. These should form the core of your diet regime as they contain higher levels of nutrients and fiber. Also, foods from this group make you feel fuller more easily and hence you can remain active all day long.
Vegetables and fruits – Possibly the most neglected food group of all is that of vegetables and fruits. Due to busier lifestyles it can get tougher for people to include such foods in their daily diet. However, a balanced diet should contain of at least 5 pieces of fruit consumed every day. Though this may sound like a large number, but again fruits and vegetables can be consumed in various forms. It doesn’t really mean eating a whole raw banana or fresh carrots regularly. Of course, the benefit of fruits and vegetables goes a long way as it helps combat the risk of heart diseases and other serious health conditions. What does that mean really? Well, it means that eating fresh fruits and vegetables in any form every day will keep several grave diseases at bay and make you healthier.
Proteins – Consisting of 30% of dietary intake, proteins can be combined into one food group. The primary foods in this category are meat, fish, milk and egg. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan there are plenty of proteins such as pulses, nuts, and seeds that essentially can spread across your overall diet.
However, simply eating a balanced diet isn’t sufficient for a healthy lifestyle. If you’re not into physical activities such as walking, running, or sports, then you may be losing out on the overall well-being of your body. In order to lose excess body weight, become healthier, or feel better in general, you must take up some form of activity or exercise. The form of exercise that is recommended should be of at least 30 minutes or more of light/moderate physical activity, for about five times a week.
That does not mean including all the physical activity in half an hour’s time. The period can be segregated into three 10 minute divisions such as brisk walking, taking the dog out for a walk, or even grocery shopping. The idea is to keep it easy and do nothing strenuous in an average. It can be rather difficult for many people to incorporate a gym routine or run every day. The best way to live a healthier lifestyle is to take up to some activity that you love. It should be something that you can keep doing on a regular basis and start discovering the benefits of a healthier you!