Healthy eating is often taken as eating less. Eating healthy does not always mean eating less or limiting calories or food groups. Eating healthy actually means having nutrient dense foods as against calorie dense foods.
A balanced diet chart consists of a healthy combination of all the necessary nutrients obtained from the main food group. This includes various foods such as wholegrain cereals, fruits, vegetables, milk and milk products, nuts, seeds, beans and pulses. There are less processed and sweet foods. This also includes drinking an adequate amount of water.
In general, the needs of all nutrients remain the same for all of us. However, the amount differs based on the gender, age, and level of activity of the person. A balanced diet chart is a guideline through which an individual can work for optimal health.
How does one plan a balanced diet chart?
A healthy and balanced plan consists of adequate amounts of complex carbohydrates. 50-60% of total calories must come from complex carbohydrates. The intake of processed carbohydrates from biscuits, white bread, Maida, etc. must be limited while carbohydrates from cereals, millet, bread, oats, whole wheat pasta should be encouraged. Apart from the nutrition they provide with valuable fiber which helps in the digestion process and creates satiety.
Proteins from nuts, dals, nuts, meat, fish, eggs, low-fat milk and products such as curds, paneer, cheese, etc. are very important for various body processes and tissue repair. In children, especially proteins are very important because they play a major role in building tissue. According to the Diet guidelines for Indians, 10-15% of daily calorie intake must come from good quality protein.
When it comes to fat, this is one of the groups that most people keep away from, especially those who are on some type of weight loss program. Although concentrated energy sources they have many important roles to play in the body. The absorption of certain fat-soluble vitamins is promoted in the presence of fat. Food fats are both unsaturated (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) and saturated types. Monounsaturated fats are found in nuts, olive oil and avocados and can help to reduce bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein or LDL). Polyunsaturated Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish, nuts and seeds are considered to have an anti-clotting effect on blood and can also reduce the risk of heart disease and also possibly lower blood pressure. Saturated fats, which are mainly found in animal products, processed foods such as fried foods and chocolate, butter, ghee, margarine, etc. are more easily deposited as fat tissue than unsaturated fats and therefore must make up less than 5% of total fat intake. Diet for infants and toddlers must have adequate fat because they have increased energy needs. Adults need to limit their intake of saturated fat.
How to maintain a balanced diet?
Vitamins and minerals are needed in very small amounts but have a major role to play in a balanced diet plan. Our bodies cannot synthesize them and hence need to be consumed from various fruits, vegetables, carbohydrate and protein groups. Fruits and vegetables also provide fiber, phytonutrients and antioxidants which bestow health benefits.
It is often said that you not only what you eat, but also when you eat. Often people skip their first meal at breakfast because they are in a hurry without knowing that eating breakfast is the thumb rule of a healthy eating plan. For the body to run smoothly eat three main foods with food in the right section along with two small and healthy snacks in between. A healthy breakfast increases metabolism, while eating small, healthy foods keeps you energetic and throughout the day. Also try and avoid eating late at night. Prefer a glass of milk or some beans if hunger strikes during worldly hours.
There must be a good balance between exercise and food intake because it helps to maintain healthy muscle strength and weight. You must include at least 30-45 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity, such as walking or cycling or swimming, for at least 5-6 days a week.
Pay attention to your portion sizes when it comes to a healthy eating plan as often as one ends up eating more than what is needed. Choose artificial foodhealthy ones yourself, practice conscious eating, get enough sleep, drink enough water and avoid eating out.