No one single food on its own contains all the essential nutrients that the human body needs for good health, why so the importance of a balanced diet food plate.
Eating a wide range of foods from the various different food groups is most likely the best way to provide the correct nutrients we need, and vital for our health and well-being.
But what exactly is a balanced diet and how do we put it into practice? Current national guidelines in the UK recommend that we base our balanced diet on the Eat well Plate.
A diet based on the correct balanced diet of foods from all the sections –
- starchy foods such as potatoes, rice, and pasta
- with plenty of fruit and vegetables
- some protein-rich foods such as meat, fish, and pulses
- milk and dairy foods
and limited amounts of processed and sugary foods – should provide all the nutrients you need.
This illustrates how faddy diets, which eliminate entire food groups, can be very unhealthy.
The Eat well plate.
Use the Eat well plate to help you get the balanced diet food right. It shows how much you should eat from each food group.
- FRUIT AND VEGETABLES
- BREAD, RICE, POTATOES, PASTA, and other starchy foods.
- MEAT, FISH, EGGS, BEANS, and other non-dairy sources of protein.
- MILK AND DAIRY FOODS. FOODS AND DRINKS high in fat and/or sugar.
As you age, it’s essential to give more consideration to your protein intake. It’s thought that people over the age of 50 may require more protein in their balanced diet, so try to include some protein at every meal.
Foods such as meat, pulses, dairy produce, fish, nuts, eggs, and vegetarian products such as Quorn and tofu are all good sources of protein.
Protein is essential for muscle repair, recovery after exercise, and has been linked to the prevention of muscle loss in older people.
It also helps to stabilize your appetite and blood sugar levels, meaning that you’ll have fewer cravings and feel less hungry.
Putting it into practice.
But eating healthily doesn’t have to be complicated. In very simple terms, aim to keep your consumption of processed food to a minimum.
This means eating “real foods” close to their natural state and reducing your consumption of cakes, biscuits, ready meals, refined pasta and bread, takeaways, processed snacks, soft drinks, and sugary foods.
“The ultimate message is the same and really quite simple,” explains Martin McDonald, Director of the nutrition consultancy and Nutritional Advisor for Total.“Just eat real food.
That way, it’s almost impossible to over-consume processed carbs, and the fat you do eat will come from natural sources.
Eating a wide range of foods, especially “real foods”, is vital for our health and wellbeing.
If you eat ‘real food’ and avoid processed junk, you’re likely to start self-regulating your appetite and you’ll achieve a more balanced diet food without over-thinking it. Sugar cravings will lessen and your blood sugar levels will stabilize.
With my clients, the first three things I teach them to support the ‘real food message’ eat more vegetables, consume protein with each meal and become a conscientious eater in terms of portion sizes.”
Healthy” isn’t always healthy
Quite often the foods that are sold to us as healthy options are quite literally the opposite. “An excellent example of this is yogurt,” continues Martin MacDonald.
It’s far healthier to eat something like natural Greek yogurt, which is naturally higher in protein and fat than a diet yogurt that’s low in fat and loaded with sugar or artificial sweeteners but is promoted as being ‘healthy.
Read the labels carefully. Food companies can use terms like organic, gluten-free, and low in fat or salt to make an otherwise unhealthy product seem like it’s a good choice.
In general, good, “natural” food will not have to make health claims.”
Anti-aging nutrition tips.
Anti-aging nutrition tips from Nutritionist Miguel Tori bio-Mateus “As you age, keeping your body in top condition is akin to keeping a classic car. You wouldn’t let it rust just because it’s not a new model.
In fact, you’d make an extra effort to find the right parts and to take it to a specialist garage, where it can get the expert, high- quality service it deserves. The same goes for your body.
‘Let food be thy medicine, thy medicine shall be thy food’
Treat it with the respect and care it deserves by leading a healthy lifestyle and eating a diet rich in fish, green veg, fiber from fruit, whole grains, and pulses.
When out shopping, load your trolley with deep green vegetables to boost your calcium and magnesium intake. Magnesium supports energy and cardiovascular health, and calcium is essential for bones.
Also, try a daily handful of walnuts, and oily fish three times a week to help keep your joints supple and pain-free. My favorites are salmon, mackerel, and sardines.
Fuel after exercise
Nutrition really comes into its own after exercise. Eat the right thing immediately after a hard training session, and you’ll recover faster and reduce the risk of injury.
After exercise, you have a window of about one hour where your muscles are most receptive to being restocked with glycogen.
Use this time to refuel with a snack combining a 3:1 ratio of carbs to protein. Research suggests a glass of milk provides the right balance of nutrients and helps you recover faster.
A US study even shows low-fat chocolate milk as a better post-workout recovery drink than sports drinks – and shaves off more fat.
“Try to include a balance of protein, fat and carbohydrate in every meal and snack”
Ditch the diet.
There are many faddy diets on the market, and these tend to restrict certain foods groups, depriving our body of essential vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients, which are required for our overall health,” explains Nutritional Therapist Emily Whitehead from Better You.
“Restricting food groups may also lead to nutritional deficiencies, cravings, hunger and food binges.
Faddy diets may help you to lose weight at the beginning, but they’re unsustainable in the long term, and the majority of dieters put the weight straight back on after they’ve finished dieting.
5 Top tips to achieve a balanced diet food
1- Try to include a balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrate in every meal and snack. Choose a high-protein breakfast of eggs, or include nuts and seeds to stabilize your appetite.
2- Avoid demonizing a food or food group by labeling it bad or naughty. Every food has a place, and it’s the balance that counts.
3- Portion sizes of meat and fish should be around the size of a deck of cards or the palm of your hand.
4- Don’t be scared of fat, but try to get it from “real” sources – meat, fish, nuts, dairy, oils and so on – rather than processed foods.
5- Portions of carbohydrates – pasta, rice, bread, potatoes and so on – should be the size of your fist. Carbs are easy to overeat, so make sure your portion size doesn’t creep up.