What should you be eating on a daily basis?
We all know that a balanced diet is something that’s extremely important to maintain – but what exactly is it?
We’re here to explain what constitutes a balanced diet, and what should we be eating on a daily basis for optimum health.
What is a balanced diet?
In order for good health, you need to be consuming the right fats, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and fibre. In balancing these elements and eating the correct combination, you are giving the body the fuel it needs to grow, replenish, repair and strengthen.
Simply put, a balanced diet is one that gives your body the nutrients it needs to function correctly. This is a key aspect of healthy living, as without proper nutrition from a balanced diet, your body is more prone to disease, infection, fatigue and general poor performance in day-to-day activities.
What foods do I need to be eating?
To have a balanced diet, you need to be consuming foods high in vitamins, minerals and nutrients, while avoiding foods that are high in unnecessary fat and sugar.
The following food groups are essential components of a balanced diet:
Vegetables – Choose dark, leafy greens – these generally contain the most nutrition and are primary sources of essential vitamins and minerals.
Fruits – Opt for fresh, local and seasonal produce in your area.
Grains – Switch white breads and pastas to whole grain – the hull (the outer shell of the grain) is where majority of the grain’s nutrition lies.
Proteins – Remove the skin and trim off any visible fat to reduce the amount of fat and cholesterol in meat. Grass fed is best. Beans are also a primary source of protein for a non-meat alternative, as are lentils, nuts and tofu.
Dairy – Choose small portions of full-fat cheeses and reduced fat milk or yoghurt.
Oils – Use oils sparingly – opt for low-fat and low-sugar versions of dressings.
How do I have a balanced diet?
According to the Australian Dietary Guidelines, there are 5 principal recommendations that are considered to be equally important in terms of public health.
Use the following guidelines to form the basis of your balanced diet:
1. To achieve and maintain a healthy weight, be physically active and choose amounts of nutritious food and drinks to meet your energy needs.
2. Enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods from these five groups every day:
- Lean meats
3. Limit intake of foods containing saturated fat, added salt, added sugars and alcohol
- Replace high fat foods which contain predominantly saturated fats such as butter, cream and palm oil with foods that contain polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats such as oils, nut butters and avocado.
- Low fat diets are not suitable for children under the age of 2 years.
- Do not add salt to foods in cooking, or at the table
- Limit intake of added sugars, such as confectionary, soft drinks, cordials and fruit juices
- Limit alcohol intake
4. Encourage, support and promote breastfeeding
5. Care for your food; prepare and store it safely