Achieving a balanced diet with the food pyramid - - Ireland's  Youth Information Website

 A Balanced diet is a meal that comprises all types of foods in specific proportions and quantities so that the body’s requirement for proteins, calories, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients is sufficient. More so, a balanced diet should have bio-active phytochemicals such as antioxidants, nutraceuticals, and dietary fibre. A balanced diet should be such that about 10 to 12% of the total calories it offers are from proteins, 60 to 70% from carbohydrates, and 20 to 25% from fat.

Health benefits that a balanced diet offers

  • Treats and prevents specific diseases. By constantly having a balanced diet, the risk of developing various diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, is lowered. A balanced diet also helps to treat high blood pressure and diabetes.
  • Improves the overall body’s function, prevents excess weight gain, and strengthens the immune system 
  • Helps meet the body’s dietary needs. By having a balanced diet, the body gets the nutrient it needs, thus preventing nutritional deficiencies.

About calories
The quantity of calories in a meal refers to the energy quantity that is stored in the diet. The body utilizes calories in various ways, from thinking, breathing, walking, among other vital functions. A typical person requires about 2,000 calories daily to ensure they maintain the body’s optimal functioning. However, the calorie amount depends on various factors, such as physical activity, sex, and age. Typically men tend to require more amounts of calories than women. Those who engage more in exercises more also tend to need more calories than those who don’t. While calories are beneficial to the body, one should be careful to check the food they obtain their calories. Avoid empty calorie sources; these are foods that offer minimal nutritional importance, although they provide calories. Examples of the empty calorie sources include;

  • Pizza
  • Cakes, doughnuts, and cookies
  • Processed meats
  • Sodas and energy drinks
  • Ice cream, sodas
  • Fries and chips

However, important to know that not only the type of food that makes it an empty calorie but also the ingredients making the food determine its nutritional value. For example, a homemade pizza with many veggies and a wholemeal base can be a healthy choice. On the other hand, pizzas that are premade and other highly processed foods often only offer empty calories. A balanced diet should contain a very limited amount of empty calories. Ensure that your diet has calories from foods that also offer other nutrients. Mainly have calories from the following foods.

  • Whole grains
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Legumes 
  • Lean proteins

Foods to eat for a balanced diet
A healthy balanced diet should always comprise the following nutrients

  • Minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins.
  • Healthy fats
  • Proteins.

It should also contain various foods from the following groups.

  • Grains
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Protein foods
  • Dairy

Some examples of foods that offer proteins include eggs, fish, meat, beans, legume, and beans. Individuals who follow an entirely plant-based diet will not consume dairy, fish, and meat. They should thus include other food that will offer identical nutrients in their diet. Examples of plant-based proteins include beans and Tofu.

Foods to avoid
Some of the foods to limit or completely avoid in a healthy balanced diet include;

  • Refined grains
  • Foods that are highly processed
  • Red meat 
  • Added salt and sugar
  • Trans fats
  • Alcohol

At times what is healthy for one person may not always be healthy for another. For example, some may find wheat flour to be a healthy option, while some may be gluten intolerant and thus cannot take wheat flour.

Putting all together, it can be said that a healthy balanced diet is a meal which combines all the food groups and nutrients recommended above. One should distribute them evenly in their meals. One way that can help guide how much of each food group you should distribute in each meal is the plate method. It entails

  • Have half of your plate filled with vegetables and fruits.
  • Have dairy as part of your mean or a non-dairy replacement.
  • Have less than a quarter of your plate with proteins
  • Having more than a quarter of your plate filled with grains

In conclusion, with this article, one is equipped with how to achieve a healthy balanced diet. Another important tip is to ensure that one is careful about where they source their foods; review sites such as UK collected reviews can help one find dependable food sources and healthy food delivery companies.