A balanced diet: what is it and how to achieve it?

Eating a balanced diet simply means eating the right kinds of foods in the right amounts at the recommended levels so your body absorbs the nutrients it needs for health. It is important to have one as it ensures the prevention of obesity, diabetes, some types of cancer and diseases.

According to the ‘Australian Guide to Healthy Eating’, the number of daily servings required from each food group to meet your body’s daily nutrient needs can be roughly broken down into the following:

Carbohydrates: 6 – 9

Protein: 1 – 2

Fat: 1 Dairy: 2 – 3

fruit: 2

Vegetables: 5

The next thing you need to know is what makes up 1 serving from a food group.

• 1 slice of bread
• 1 cup of rice or pasta or noodles
• ¾ cup of ready-to-eat cereal
• 1 medium roll

• 70 – 90 grams of cooked lean meat/fish/poultry
• 2 small eggs or 1 large egg
• ½ cup of peanuts/almonds
• 2 small lamb chops

• 1 teaspoon vegetable oil/butter/peanut butter
• 5 grams of fat in foods like cakes and pastries

Dairy products
• 1 cup of yogurt/milk
• ½ cup of ice cream
• 1 slice of cheese

• ½ cup of freshly squeezed juice
• 1 apple/orange/banana
• ½ cup of chopped fresh fruit
• ¼ cup of raisins or dried fruit.

• Half a cup of cooked vegetables
• A whole tomato
• 10 baby carrots
• 1 cup of vegetables for salad

Now a big problem with trying to follow this guide to ensure your body has all the nutrients it needs to be healthy is that a person would have to consume (for example) a minimum of 2 slices of bread, 4 cups of rice , 70 grams of cooked meat cooked in a little vegetable oil, 2 cups of yogurt, 2 apples, 30 baby carrots and 4 cups of cooked vegetables per day. While this can be easily achieved by some, for many others, especially those who live extremely busy lives or are trying to cut down on portion sizes and calories to lose weight, it is not. Therefore, I have outlined a few recommendations and tips on how to achieve a healthy and balanced diet.

• Try to choose foods rich in nutrients, such as a sandwich filled with lean meat and vegetables. This will provide a higher amount of vitamins and minerals without too many calories.

• Avoid foods that are high in calories but low in nutrients. These are mainly foods such as sweets, soft drinks and cakes.

• Always serve a salad with your main meal for lunch and dinner. This will ensure that you increase your consumption of vegetables.

• Swap rice/pasta/noodles for bread, 1 slice of bread is already 1 carb serving!

• A cup of freshly squeezed juice in the morning covers the recommended daily intake of fruit

• If you have a busy lifestyle or are trying to lose weight and still find it difficult to meet your daily requirements, it’s also a good idea to try and take supplements. Supplements can ensure your body gets all the nutrients it needs if you can’t eat enough food for your body to extract the vitamins and nutrients it needs for optimal health.

Keep in mind, however, that it’s important not to replace your real fruits and vegetables with supplements (if you choose to take them). Nothing can replace a healthy diet!

Good luck!

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