Diet & Nutrition 6 MIN READ 329 VIEWS July 2, 2022

How to Have a Balanced Diet and What are Its Advantages?

Written By HealthKart
Medically Reviewed By Dr. Aarti Nehra

How to have a balanced diet
What is a Balanced Diet?
Components of a Balanced Diet
Benefits of Balanced Diet
How to Have a Balanced Diet?
Conclusion

Our foods contain carbohydrates, proteins, fats, minerals, vitamins, and more; eating them in the right proportion promises good health. The onset of a majority of health conditions can be traced back to poor eating habits and missing out on balanced nutrition. Read through to know the benefits of balanced diet, its components, and how to have a balanced diet.

What is a Balanced Diet?

A balanced diet is defined as a concoction of foods that provide the body with the required nutrients to function properly. A balanced diet contains food from all food groups namely, fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy. These foods confer carbohydrates, proteins, fats, minerals, vitamins, and water which are used by the body to grow, develop, and survive. 

But a well balanced diet is not just the inclusion of all food groups but also their proportion. Therefore, the components of balanced diet are watchfully proportioned to include everything in the required quantity.

Components of a Balanced Diet 

As mentioned above, a balanced diet consists of foods that provide nutrients under six main nutrient groups – proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, vitamins, minerals, and water.

Depending upon age, sex, and level of physical activity, an average person needs about 2,000 -2500 calories per day to maintain good health. On average, 45 to 65 per cent of these daily calories must come from carbohydrates, 10 to 30 per cent from proteins, and 25 to 35 per cent from visible and invisible fat. Water is important for hydration and acts as a medium to carry out chemical reactions in the body. The daily dietary requirement for water ranges between 2.7 and 3.7 litres per day [usually 5% of body weight].

Benefits of Balanced Diet

It’s not without a reason that a balanced diet is considered a panacea for almost all health problems. The benefits of a balanced diet include:

1. Aids in Growth and Development

In childhood years, proteins are important for the growth and development of muscles and bones. As one grows older, adequate proteins are required for the repair and maintenance of muscle strength. Calcium and Vitamin D are paramount for strong bones and healthy teeth.

2. Important for Weight Management

The food we eat undergoes a digestion process. During the process, it is broken down to produce energy which is used to carry out the day’s work. Eating energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods will add to the calorie count without providing nutritional value. Consuming more calories than what is burned during the day is stored as fats.

3. Eliminates Risk of Developing Deficiency Diseases

Eating a well balanced diet is the key to keeping away deficiency diseases. Essential nutrients help boost the body’s immune system which supports good health. A healthy balanced diet is important to maintain blood sugar and blood pressure levels. Balanced diet food is therefore important for heart health and diabetes.

4. Boosts Brain Power

A well balanced diet provides adequate quantities of omega-3 fatty acids which are required for improving memory and enhancing the ability to learn. These essential nutrients are also important to keep away debilitating mental disorders.

5. Improved Sleep 

A good night’s sleep helps our body muscles to repair, replenish, and rejuvenate. Lack of sleep raises various health concerns. But a well balanced diet provides adequate nutrition, taking care of hunger cravings. It also prepares the body for a good night’s sleep.

6. Increases Energy and Productivity

Poor diet or skewed diet plans have a grave impact on productivity. When a body lacks essential nutrients, it feels sluggish. Furthermore, consuming empty calories only leads to instant energy spikes and does not improve overall productivity.

7. Increases Lifespan

A healthy body and mind pave the way for a long and active life. When a body is sans diseases, gets adequate nutrients to work efficiently, and gets enough sleep, it gets rejuvenated and refreshed.  

How to Have a Balanced Diet?

A balanced diet must contain foods from all seven colour categories namely, red, purple, blue, orange, yellow, green, and white. When preparing your meal, consider this as your benchmark. Here are some tips on how to have a balanced diet:

1. Include Fruits and Vegetables

About half your plate must include seasonal fruits and vegetables. Try to include all colours and varieties. These are a good source of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and roughage.

2. Get Your Carbohydrates

One-fourth of your plate must include grains. Prefer whole grains to refined flour as the former is rich in nutrients and vitamins. They also contain fibre which confers a feeling of fullness and have a milder effect on blood sugar and insulin levels.

3. Types of Carbohydrates

The types of carbohydrates you consume are as important as the amount of carbohydrate intake in a well balanced diet. Carbohydrates can be complex carbohydrates and simple carbohydrates found in sugary foods. Prefer sourcing the carbohydrates from fruits, high-fibre whole grains, and vegetables and skimp on simple carbohydrates or added sugar.

4. Include Proteins

Proteins must make up for one-fourth of your plate. Both plant-based proteins and animal-based proteins are good sources of proteins. But remember to add versatile protein sources like fish, poultry, beans, nuts, lentils, and legumes.

5. Watch Your Fats 

Get your fats in moderation. Prepare your meals using healthy plant oils like olive, canola, soy, corn, and sunflower. But avoid hydrogenated oils and trans fat.   

6. Include Spices and Herbs

Use your spices well. Spices are known to enhance the flavour and aroma of food. But as spices and herbs are sourced from plants, they are a good source of phytonutrients too. These phytonutrients have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer properties.

7. Drink Plenty of Water

Monitor your fluid intake. The best way to get your fluids is through the water. Avoid sugary drinks and packed juices as they have high amounts of added sugar. Limit your coffee and tea serving to two small cups per day.

8. Grab a Few Raw Foods

Include raw fruits and vegetables in your diet in the form of salads as cooking erodes some essential vitamins and minerals. 

9. Include Probiotics and Prebiotics

Include fermented foods like yoghurt and curd in your diet. These are rich in probiotics and help improve gut health. In addition to this, add prebiotic foods to your meal. These foods help good bacteria to grow in the gut.

10. Types of Fibre

Make sure your diet contains both soluble and insoluble fibre. Soluble fibre is found in oats, peas, beans, fruits, and vegetables. They increase the feeling of fullness and help lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels. On the other hand, insoluble fibre, mostly found in whole grains and fruit skin, is not digested by the body and forms bulk in the gut. Insoluble fibre is important to maintain healthy bowel movements. 

11. Include Dairy Products 

Include enough dairy products in your daily diet. Dairy products are a rich source of proteins and calcium. These are important for maintaining strong bones and teeth.

12. Combine Different Protein Sources

Plant proteins are not complete proteins as they do not provide the correct balance of amino acids. Adding animal-based proteins thus becomes important.

13. Avoid Processed Foods

Certain foods are processed to increase flavour and shelf life. However, these processed foods lose their nutrient value in the process. They also include high amounts of sugar and preservatives. Therefore, processed food is not a balanced diet food.  

14. Go Low on Salt 

Do not include too much salt in your diet. High salt intake increases blood pressure risk. Limit your salt intake to 5 – 6 grams per day. Instead, use spices and herbs to flavour foods. Read food labels for ‘no added salt’. Again, avoid processed foods as they contain high amounts of salt.

15. Watch Your Portion Size 

Keep a close watch on your portion size. Overeating a balanced diet can also lead to weight issues. Remember, the calories not burnt to produce energy are stored in the body as fats. Limit your portion size to avoid consuming too many calories.

16. Moderate Your Alcohol Intake

Watch your alcohol intake. One unit of pure alcohol equals 10 ml by volume and 8 gm by weight. Men and women should restrict their alcohol consumption to 14 units per week spread evenly over the week. One must also observe at least two alcohol-free days per week. Pregnant women, breastfeeding women, and women trying to conceive must abstain from alcohol.

Conclusion

Healthy eating habits go a long way in protecting the body from certain chronic diseases like heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. A well-balanced diet is also helpful in reducing the risk of developing several cancers. Obesity, the problem directly linked to unhealthy eating habits, is the root cause of all health ailments. No wonder, the importance of balanced diet is well pronounced. To make your search for the answer of your question “how to have a balanced diet” easier, remember to include all six nutrient groups in your diet – proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, vitamins, minerals, and water. Last and most important, it is the quantity and quality of nutrients that make a well balanced diet. So, make healthier food choices and stick to the right portion size. 

Read these next