A balanced diet provides your body with enough nutrients and energy to keep you strong, fit, and nourished all day. As you may already know, a proper diet will not only keep your physical body strong but will also highly contribute to maintaining your brain healthy.
The main things you should check when building a balanced diet are flexibility, nutrients, and enjoyment. Although one’s enjoyment and preferences may not seem so relevant when speaking of a healthy diet at first, experts advise such things to be taken into consideration as a more enjoyable and appealing diet will aid with reducing diet boredom and keeping consistency.
That said, next, you’ll learn what a healthy diet looks like and how to build a balanced diet.
Nutrients of a Balanced Diet
A balanced meal consists of four main nutrients
In order to secure proper functionality, your body needs both micronutrients and macronutrients. Macronutrients consist of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, each providing the body with calories and energy, while micronutrients mainly consist of vitamins and minerals. All of these nutrients are equally important for your body but are required in different proportions according to one’s condition.
Carbohydrates represent the body’s main energy source, consisting of sugars, fibers, starches found in vegetables, fruits, beans, grains, and milk products. Monosaccharides and disaccharides are the main sugar units the brain, muscles, and everything in your body need to function.
Proteins are the essential macronutrients for building muscle mass, tissue, and enzymes. Proteins are built with various amino acids and common food sources for dietary protein include: lean meats (beef, pork, lamb), poultry (chicken, turkey, duck), fish and seafood, dairy products, legumes and beans, eggs, and nuts. Protein is the building block for pretty much the whole body mass.
Fats, or fatty acids, are fundamental nutrients for your brain and heart health. Although traditional diets used to promote defatted foods, considering its other effects, experts have made a big turn-around, stating that diets should include fatty nutrients in all meals. Fats are energy-rich and help the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins such as Vitamin A, D, E, and K.
Aside from brain and heart health, fats also help with hormone production, healthy skin, hair, and nails.
Main fat-rich foods include nuts, butter, avocado, oil (olive, coconut, canola), seeds, meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy.
Fibers, also known as roughage, are responsible for maintaining your digestive system clean and healthy, flashing out cholesterol and harmful carcinogens, and also easing bowel movements. Despite being part of the carbohydrates, fiber distinguishes itself through its additional functions, digestive processing, and food source.
Fiber is part of the plant-based foods (beans, vegetables, fruits, nuts, vegetables, grains), that go undigested through the body, not being able to break the food down. Fibers make a good addition to diets considering they make you feel full for a longer period.
Fiber-rich foods are vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, seeds, and beans.
Balanced nutrition will always include all of these essential nutrients in the right proportions. By knowing what each nutrient does and how to get it, you’ll be able to improve and balance your meals alone, without having to worry about diet plans or improper meals.
Next, you’re going to explore some of the common dietary meals that are unbalanced and find out how to balance them.
Examples of Healthy Meal Plans
Without knowing, you often consume healthy but unbalanced meals that only need a slight addition to get nutritiously balanced.
Here are some examples of common unbalanced meals and how to fix them
Chicken and spinach salad
Chicken and spinach salad is a pretty healthy, common meal, providing most of the necessary nutrients. The chicken contains protein, the spinach has fiber and both the chicken and salad dressing contain fat.
However, the meal is missing an essential macronutrient- carbohydrate. In this case, a good fix for the problem would be adding some grain such as rice or cereals into the salad or simply a small baguette. Now you have a healthy, perfectly balanced meal that contains all the essential nutrients for your body and brain.
Spaghetti with meatballs
Spaghetti with meatballs is an easy-to-make meal, while also being pretty solid and rich in nutrients. It has enough proteins ( meatballs), carbohydrates (spaghetti and tomato sauce), and fat ( meatballs and oil), however, the meal lacks fiber, a reason for which you often don’t feel full after finishing the meal and you get a feeling of craving from your body. Moreover, in this combination, all the spaghetti, and oil, without the fiber, will make you feel a weight in the stomach, especially if you attempt any physical effort after the meal. This is due to the lack of undigested food to clear the digestive system and make your body feel free.
Using whole-wheat spaghetti and adding some additional vegetables or even a side salad to the meal will balance the meal effectively and completely change the feel of your body after finishing eating.
Oatmeal with fruit
Oatmeal with fruit is a surprisingly used dietary meal, considering it lacks 2 of the essential nutrients. By this time, you already understand that both the oatmeal and fruit contain carbohydrates and fiber, meaning there is no protein or fat in this meal, a reason for which you usually don’t feel full after eating it. In order to balance the meal, you could add some seeds, nuts, or nut butter, that will contain enough protein and fat for the body.
Once you know how to balance your meals and build a rich, healthy diet in terms of flexibility and nutrients, there is only one component left to make a completely balanced diet- enjoyment.
Intuitive eating is all about allowing enjoyment in your diet for balance, just like mentioned at the beginning of the article. Intuitive eating goes against the traditional food rules such as trying to keep on with a strict diet, which statistically leads to relapse guilt, and therefore total failure.
The intuitive eating mentality is here to fix this problem and balance your diet by listening to your body without judgment, fulfilling your hunger, and allowing yourself to eat whatever you want without feeling any guilt.
By ditching the common diet mentality and listening to your body without judgment, you will not obsess over the foods you eat and the ones you wanna eat so bad, but just enjoy them and get going. Unlike a common diet mentality, intuitive eating gets you rid of constant food thinking, bothering, and guilt, which will in turn make it easier for you to maintain the diet and stay consistent, all due to a balanced diet.
Now that you know what nutrients your diet needs to contain, how to balance your meals, and what mentality approach has the best results, feel free to follow these tips and balance your diet effectively.