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Sticking to a balanced diet is easier than you think

Eating a healthy, balanced diet is important for everyone. A balanced diet is important because your body needs a number of different nutrients in order to function to the best of its ability. Eating too much of any type of food, regardless of how healthy it may seem, isn't good for you. So put down those carrots and step away from the lettuce. Instead, a good mix of different food types will unlock your body's full potential whilst making sure you don't get bored with the same old foods.

Getting started
One of the most common misconceptions is that creating and sticking to a balanced diet will lead to the same old regimented food intake with little to no reward. In reality, this couldn't be further from the truth, with healthy eating being able to offer everything your body will want in well-proportioned amounts - as well as a few regular treats along the way. So, whilst at first the difference in eating habits may come as something of a change from the norm, it will only be a matter of time before you settle into the new regime and your body becomes used to the habit. Taking the time at the very beginning to create a healthy, well balanced diet will make for huge rewards, seeing results such as lower cholesterol, more regular blood pressure and healthy body mass. The lifestyle changes that are required for positive change are small and extremely easy to factor into your daily routine, even for the busiest of individuals.

Dairy can provide some of the biggest changes with the smallest effort. In swapping full fat milk and cheese for low-fat alternatives, you can cut down on your fat intake without having to undertake a complete overhaul of your habits or preferences.

Meat and fish
Likewise, your meat intake can be easily regulated by planning ahead, limiting your intake and choosing lean cuts where possible. The recommended allowance for fish is two seafood dishes a week, one of which should contain oily fish such as salmon or trout. As oily fish contains a high source of Omega3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, it's good for the immune system and therefore highly recommended, especially for pregnant women as it aids the development of the baby's central nervous system.

A couple of treats
It's not all hard work and moderation, however. Fatty and sugary foods are positively encouraged, albeit in small portions. Likewise, knowing the difference between fats and cutting down on the bad ones, such as saturated fats, will make for a healthier diet overall.

Saturated fats are present in:

  • butter
  • ground beef and processed meat
  • ark chocolate
  • biscuits and pastries

These saturates can be replaced by the much better monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are present in:

  • lean red meat
  • olives
  • sardines
  • certain nuts - almond, pistachio, pecans, cashews and walnuts (among others)

Every once in a while, throwing caution to the wind and having the chocolate eclair you've been craving is perfectly fine too. Alcohol isn't off the list either. In fact, a drink or two of red wine is a great way to unwind and a good source of antioxidants. When consumed in moderation, red wine can help prevent heart attacks and cancer. If red wine is not your thing, then other alcohol is not frowned upon.

Staple meals
Main lunches and dinners can easily be based around starchy products such as bread, pasta, rice or potatoes, but as some of these are high in carbohydrates they're best eaten when combining diet with exercise. Eating wholegrain versions where possible will also prove extremely beneficial. Ultimately, the secret to a balanced diet is in the name: balance. There's no magic foodstuff that you should eat forever and likewise nothing you should avoid like the plague. In striking up a healthy, happy balance and eating a variety of foods from different groups (carbohydrates, fibres, fats, etc.), you can ensure that your diet will not only keep you looking and feeling healthy but ensure fantastic health benefits in the long run.

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