Ones diet has a huge baring on ones self.
We touched on the subject of a balanced diet briefly in a previous article “Fresh Is Best” but I wanted to come back to the topic and expand on it. In this article we are going to break down what a balanced diet is, its benefits, what you should try to avoid eating too regular and we will outline some of the best foods to eat. The key in my opinion is that nothing is off limits. Now I am not suggesting that you eat cake and chocolate all day every day, merely that you can eat some cake and chocolate if you are so inclined. You just have to be aware of what you are eating, the quantities and manage it accordingly.
So why eat a balanced diet? Here’s why!!!
Why Eat a Balanced Diet?
The whole idea behind eating a balanced diet is to enable your body to work correctly. The body needs certain things for it to thrive and we get those things from the food and drink we consume. Think of yourself like a car. Now if you are like me you will not enjoy your car breaking down so you treat it correctly. You give it regular oil changes, change all the fluids and make sure it is well maintained. This way you have a car for life. Our bodies are no different. It must be maintained correctly to function at its highest level. Now we are lucky enough to be able to buy as many cars as we want or can afford but we only get ONE body. So it is amazing how many people take it for granted and treat it so poorly.
The main reason to eat a good diet is YOU. We will touch base more thoroughly on its benefits later but YOU get one life and one body so look after it and enable yourself to have the best life possible not just for you but for those around you.
What is a Balanced Diet?
A balanced diet consists of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, fibres, vitamins and minerals. We must consume the correct amount of these nutrients in order to be healthy and happy. These nutrients are found in the five different food groups:
Each food group has its benefits for the body and mind. The eating of these five food groups in the correct proportions allows the body to produce energy, growth and repair.
A very simple way to look at creating balanced meals is to have one quarter protein, one quarter carbohydrates and one half vegetables. This will offer you sufficient nutrients for the body to function perfectly and for you to feel great. I am sure you will have seen on a TV advert or heard on the radio that you should be having five portions of fruits and vegetables a day. A diet consisting of mostly fruits and vegetables is by far the best kind of diet for you. You can never consume too many fruits and vegetables.
Water Water Water and more Water!!! Water really is a huge part of a healthy balance diet. We are constantly losing water from our bodies via sweat and going to the bathroom so it is important to keep yourself topped up. It is recommended that the average adult drink two litres or half a gallon of water each day.
Being happy and healthy!!! I literally do not need to say anymore, but I will. Nobody can be happy all the time but you can be healthy and healthy will help with your happiness, providing nothing catastrophic is happening to you. Anyways we divulge. . . In the short term a balanced diet will help you feel good and look fabulous and it helps us with our sleep. It can help you lose weight, gain weight and maintain a healthy weight for you. In the long term you will have a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, strokes and some forms of cancer. It will boost your immune system, boost your energy levels and allow you to live longer. My Nan lived to one hundred and one and I am planning on giving her a run for her money.
Below I will break down the different nutrients and how they benefit the body:
- Carbohydrates – provide quick energy. Often endurance athletes will “carb load” meaning eat lots of carbs the day or night before an event in order to have the maximum amount of glycogen or energy available
- Fats – provide slow energy. Fats are great for low impact exercise such as walking. They also help our vital organs and enable proteins to do their job.
- Protein – is for repair and growth. Protein creates blood cells that help with muscle tissue growth and repair. Protein is also an essential nutrient for the bodies organs.
- Vitamins – these are great for your bones, immune system and healing. They also help repair cell damage and convert food to energy. Vitamin A is great for vision, teeth, bones and skin. Vitamin B is good for energy production, stress relief, metabolism, the immune system and the production of red blood cells. Vitamin C helps wounds to heal and maintains healthy teeth, gums and skin. Vitamin D helps the body work correctly, enables the brain to concentrate, make quick decisions and helps us stay calm.
- Minerals – Minerals help the body develop and stay healthy. A few examples are; Calcium strengthens bones and teeth, Iodine produces energy, iron prevents fatigue.
- Fibre – fibre cannot be digested, it helps fill you up, promotes healthy digestion and regular number twos.
- Water – Helps maintain fluid levels and prevents dehydration.
The benefits really do speak for themselves. Happy and Healthy. . nuff said.
We have just talked about how healthy fruits and vegetables are for you but you may also be wondering what other foods are good for you. To keep this nice and simple I am going to break this down in to the five food groups we spoke about earlier. Below is a list of the five food groups and more specifically great foods within each group.
- Fruits – Grapes, mango, melon, peaches, pears, pineapple, plums, raspberries, strawberry, kiwi, olives, apples, bananas, oranges, cherries and avocado.
- Vegetables – Kale, cabbage, potatoes, sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, aubergine, lettuce, asparagus, mushrooms, squash, swiss chard, turnips, radishes, courgettes, celery, carrots, onions, tomatoes, garlic, cucumber, cauliflower, broccoli, green beans, peppers.
- Proteins – Eggs, lean beef, chicken breasts, lamb, salmon, shell fish, trout, tuna, cod, haddock, kidney beans, lentils, almonds, macadamia nuts, peanuts, walnuts,
- Grains – Oats, brown rice, quinoa, bulgar.
- Dairy – Cheese, whole milk, yogurt
There are also a few miscellaneous items I wanted to mention that can have a great benefit on your health. We all need a small amount of fats and oils and butter from grass fed cows, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil are amoungst the best options. Also, apple cider vinegar is great for you as well as dark chocolate.
There really is a tremendous variety of tasty and healthy food even for the pickiest of eaters.
What to Avoid?
As with anything there will always be a dark side. We mentioned all the great foods to eat in the previous section here we will go over some of the foods to try to avoid and why.
Sugary Drinks – Fizzy pop or soda as delicious as it is, is packed with sugar and sugar is a big no no. Fruit juices can also be loaded with sugar so be sure to check the ingredients before assuming that because you are drinking a fruit juice it is healthy. Best bet with fruit juice is to make them yourselves. That way you know what’s going in to it.
White Bread – This tends to be made with refined wheat which really has no nutrients and just ends up being calories with no benefits. Stick to wheat bread and again if you can make it yourself. Bread is very easy to make once you have a wee bit of practice and making something yourself ensures you know exactly what is going into it.
Junk Food – Chocolate bars, crisps, french fries, cookies, biscuits, cakes, pastries, ice cream. All delicious yes but terrible for you. Once in a while as a treat yes but don’t make it a habit of eating a lot of these foods. The y will not make you feel or look any better in the long run.
Processed Food – Processed food is food that has been cooked and then transformed via physical or chemical processes. They often include artificial flavours and ingredients and refined sweeteners. For example, margarine, hot dogs, sausages, cereals, ready meals the list goes on. This really is a big no no. buying fresh ingredients and cooking them for yourself is the best way to avoid these.
Fast Food – Large chains such as Mcdonalds, Burger King, Dominos and the many many more that are out there tend to be pretty bad for you nutritional. The food is mass-produced and of little nutritional value. There are some healthy fast food options out there mind you.
I am by no means telling you to never eat any of these things ever again. Just merely that you should not be basing your entire diet around foods like this.
Eating a healthy diet does not have to be difficult. If you follow my two main cooking mantras; Keep it simple and fresh is best you really cannot lose. Buy fresh ingredients on a regular basis and cook them yourself. This way you know exactly what you are eating. Use the one quarter protein, one quarter carbs and one half fruit and vegetables technique and you can’t go wrong. Make sure to eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables at least five portions a day but as I said earlier you really cannot eat too much fruit and veg.
Do not cut out the bad food you enjoy completely remember you can treat yourself now and then just make sure it is a treat and they are fewer and farther between. These foods should not be a regular fixture in your diet. Routine is also a great help to you. If you can get in to a routine of shopping for fresh ingredients and cooking fresh meals daily it will become habit. Habit becomes lifestyle.
Just be mindful of what you are putting inside your body. Read labels carefully, prepare and cook for yourself regularly, drinks tonnes of water. Water really cannot be underestimated. Delicious and free. I promise you if you take the time and know what is going into you, you are going to feel one hundred percent better both mentally and physically.