A well balanced diet means getting the right nutrients from foods and beverages to supply enough nutrition and energy to support your bodies normal growth and development and prevention of certain diseases.
There is not just one perfectly balanced diet. The appropriate amount of energy and nutrients for your body is based on many factors including age, sex, body mass, and physical activity level.
Balancing nutrients and calories all starts with building a healthy plate....
The Food Groups
Fruits: "focus on fruits" (~2 cups)
- Bananas, Oranges, Berries, Melon, Mango etc.
-100% fruit juice
Vegetables: "vary your veggies" (~3 cups)
-Non-Starchy -salad greens, broccoli, zucchini, cucumber, cabbage etc.
Dairy: switch to fat free or non-fat (3 servings)
- milk, cheese, yogurt
- milk substitutes (almond milk, soy milk)
Protein: go-lean with protein
-poultry, 85% or higher ground beef
- tofu, tempeh or other soy based products
- nuts, nut butters, seeds
Grains: make at least half your grains "whole"
- 100% Whole Wheat bread, english muffins, bagels
- Rice, pasta, cereal, oatmeal, quinoa
- Starchy vegetables: potato, sweet potato, corn, peas, squash
- Focus on planning 3 meals plus 1- 2 snacks daily
- Choose at least 3 foods groups at each meal
- Make the vegetable or fruit the main focus of your meal
- Limit portions of grains and protein to 1/4 of you plate each.
- For snacks, include at least 2 food groups one fruit/vegetable plus a protein/dairy.
Balance Energy Needs
- First calculate your energy needs at ChooseMyPlate.gov, or by using free calorie tracker application like My Fitness Pal or Daily Burn
- Use your calorie tracker application to monitor your daily calorie intake and physical activity to see if you are meeting your estimated needs!
- Add in at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity exercise weekly (1.5 hours vigorous-intensity exercise) plus muscle strengthening activity 2 times per week
- Limit your portions by using smaller plates, bowls and cups
- Limit yourself to one serving per meal (no going for seconds!)
- Choose water and other calorie free beverages instead of soda, juice and sweetened energy drinks
Check out this Sample Menu based on an average 2000 Calorie diet for a week of balanced meal ideas!
Of course, there is always room in every healthy diet to include a moderate amount of sweets or what we call "empty calories". These foods tend to be high in sugar, fat and calories and provide very minimal nutrients for health, but on occasion can be enjoyed!