The Balanced Diet Chart
You may have heard the phrase “you are what you eat” and in a sense, this is true: a healthy balanced diet helps provide your body with the energy and nutrients it needs to function.
A balanced diet is a diet that contains different kinds of foods in certain quantities and proportions. It satisfies the requirement for calories through carbohydrates, proteins, fats as macronutrients. It includes micronutrients such as minerals, vitamins and antioxidants adequately and a small provision is reserved for additional nutrients to endure the short length of leanness. In addition, a balanced diet ought to offer bioactive phytochemicals like dietary fiber, antioxidants and nutraceuticals that have positive health advantages. A balanced diet should offer around 60-70% of total calories from carbohydrates, 10-12% from proteins and 20-25% of total calories from fat. In India we consume 70% -80% of calories in the form of carbohydrates which is also an important contributing factor for poor glycemic control along with less physical activity.
Recent guidelines recommend Diabetics to consume carbohydrates in proportions around 50% to achieve better glycemic control
The chart above is not an exact guide, but it does make clear the basis behind the idea of “balancing” your diet – not all of the main food groups should be eaten in the same quantity. Your body only needs a little of some things (like visible fat) while other foods (such as fruit and vegetables) have a bigger part to play in a balanced diet.
A Balanced Diet Includes
- Plenty of fruit and vegetables. According to NHS guidelines, getting your five-a-day means eating at least five 80g portions of fruit and vegetables – which is easier said than done. Fresh, canned, dried, and frozen vegetables all count towards this aspect of a healthy balanced diet, and it’s simple to up your intake by stirring vegetables into stews, curries, soups, and casseroles, or topping your breakfast, snack, or dessert with a portion of fruit.The main exception to the five-a-day rule is potatoes – they are considered starchy foods (see below).
- Starchy foods, including bread, pasta, rice, grains, and potatoes. In the balanced diet chart, starchy foods cover about a third of overall food consumption. Providing energy and essential nutrients, starchy foods can also be a good source of fibre, particularly the wholegrain or brown varieties and potatoes eaten with their skins.
- Non-dairy protein, including fish, pulses, nuts, eggs, and meat. Protein contributes to the growth and maintenance of muscles. When it comes to maintaining a desirable cholesterol level, the type of fat contained in the protein we eat is important. Nuts and oily fish are good sources of unsaturated fat, which can help reduce cholesterol levels when used as a replacement for saturated fats as part of a healthy balanced diet.* Foods within this group can also be a great source of fibre: pulses (such as beans, lentils, and peas) and nuts are all good options for increasing the amount of fibre in your diet.
- Milk and other dairy foods. Milk and other dairy products like cheese, cream, and butter are also good sources of protein or minerals like calcium, but are often high in saturated fat – especially full fat variants. For a healthy balanced diet, opt for reduced fat or reduced saturated fat versions, such as skimmed milk or vegetable oil based soft spreads.
- Fat and sugar. As you can see from the healthy balanced diet pie chart above, visible fat (fat you can see, such as oils, butter, or the fat you can cut off meat) and sugar should account for a quite small portion of our overall diet.Fats supply us with energy and essential fatty acids the body needs, but cannot produce. However – as with the “invisible fat” found in other kinds of food – the visible types of fat we eat need to be as good as possible. Total fat and total saturated fat intake through our diet needs to be within the recommended limits.
Healthy eating increases energy, improves the way your body functions, strengthens your immune system and prevents weight gain. The other major benefits are:
Meets your nutritional needs. A varied, balanced diet provides the nutrients you need to avoid nutritional deficiencies.
Prevent and treat certain diseases. Healthful eating can prevent the risk of developing certain diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease. It is also helpful in treating diabetes and high blood pressure.
Following a special diet can reduce symptoms, and may help you better manage an illness or condition.
Feel energetic and manage your weight. A healthy diet will assist you to feel higher, provide you with more energy, and help you fight stress.
Food is the mainstay of many social and cultural events. Apart from nutrition properties, it helps facilitate connections between individuals.
HERE ARE SOME GENERAL GUIDELINES FOR HEALTHY EATING
The most important rule of healthy eating is not skipping any meal. Skipping meals lowers your metabolic rate. Normal eating includes 3 major meals and 2 snacks between meals. Also, Never skip breakfast. It is the foremost vital meal of the day.
Learn simple ways to prepare food. Healthy eating doesn’t have to mean complicated eating. Keep meal preparation easy, eat more raw foods such as salads, fruits and vegetable juices, and focus on the pleasure of eating healthy food rather than the calories.
It is important to stop when you feel full. This will help you maintain your weight to an extent. This also will help you remain alert and feeling your best.
Drink lots of water. Keep a bottle of water near you while working, watching TV, etc.
Variety of foods should be used in the menu. No single food has all the nutrients.
To improve the cereal and pulse protein quality, a minimum ratio of cereal protein to pulse protein should be 4:1. In terms of the grains, it will be eight parts of cereals and one part of pulses.
Eat five portions of fruit and vegetables every day.
Keep a supply of healthy snacks to hand. This will stop you from eating an unhealthy snack when hungry.
Remove all visible fat from food before you cook it – take the skin off chicken and trim the white fat off any meat.
Limit stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol and refined sugar.
Limit the number of times you eat out to once a week. Take your own packed lunch to work.
Only eat things you like the taste of – find what works for you and don’t force yourself to eat things just because they’re good for you.
With today’s fast life, cooking a meal in the traditional style is extinct. People mostly opt for eating less healthy fast foods, ready to eat meal packets, etc. To make a healthy meal, the most important thing is to cook it at your home, rather than opting for outside cooked food. Explore healthy ways to add variety to your meals as repetition can cause boredom. Infuse your diet with the excitement and good taste you crave for. Here are a few suggestions for cooking healthily.
Having to choose healthy food does not mean you need to give up on your favorites. Think of how you can turn your favorites into a healthy option.
Decrease the meat and add more vegetables to your dishes.
Use whole wheat flour instead of refined flour when you bake.
Blot your fried foods to take off the extra oil.
Use low-fat yogurt instead of mayonnaise
Add cut fruits to your curd, rather than having flavored yogurt
Try to skim milk instead of a normal one.
Use non-stick cookware to reduce the need for oil to cook.
Microwave or steam your vegetables rather than boiling to avoid loss of nutrients.
Fats in your foods should be maintained a minimum.
Choose lean meats and skim dairy products. Fats are good in the form of nuts, seeds, fish, olives when they are accompanied by other nutrients. Some amount of fats while cooking is good as it helps the body to absorb fat-soluble vitamins.
If you wish to use oil, try cooking sprays or apply oil with a pastry brush. Cook in liquids (such as vegetable stock, lemon juice, fruit juice, vinegar or water) instead of oil. Use low-fat yogurt, low-fat soymilk evaporated skim milk or cornstarch as a thickener instead of cream.
Choose to scrub the vegetables than peel as there are many nutrients in the skin. When you have to boil the vegetables, retain the vitamin-rich water and use it as a stock in another preparation.
Switch to a reduced salt wholemeal or wholegrain bread.
For sandwiches, limit your use of spreads high in saturated fat like butter and cream cheese; replace with scrapings of spread or alternative nut spreads or low-fat cheese spreads or avocado. Choose reduced-fat ingredients like low-fat cheese or salad dressing.
Add a lot of vegetables to your sandwich to make it healthier.