Jan 052011

At one point of time or another in our life, we have been advised to consume a balanced diet for an all round well being.  But what is a balanced diet?

Eating a balanced nutritious diet means intake of a large variety of foods, beverages and nutrients from all food categories. This will include some foods which a person must have in moderate quantities and some foods which you must avoid all together. Choosing a wide variety of foods and drinks from all the food groups.

The foods which fall into moderate intake category are saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, refined sugar, salt and alcohol. The aim of regulating such food intake is to achieve a healthy body and a healthy mind.

One must remember that reaching an ideal body weight does not mean starving. It means having a diet which gives you adequate nourishment while keeping you free of excessive grease. Satisfying hunger with minimum possible calories is desirable.

A balanced diet coupled with adequate exercise helps you in the following ways:

1. A balanced diet helps control body weight, heart rate and blood pressure.
2. Such a diet promotes muscle building, muscle performance and increase in stamina.
3. It helps regulate blood sugar. It also helps control Low density cholesterol and triglycerides which is harmful for the body and promotes the beneficial HDL cholesterol.
4. A balanced diet helps control stress and enhances mental and physical relaxation.

A balanced diet contains various nutrients like proteins, vitamins, carbohydrates, minerals, salts in the right proportion. The operative word here is the correct proportion or mix.

Carbohydrates give energy to a body. Carbohydrates are found in foods like potato, rice, bread, cereals. These are broken down into glucose which gives energy to body. A lot of people avoid carbohydrates in order to loose weight. But this should not be done as it would rob the body of its energy. Instead, fat intake should be reduced. One must have foods like sugar, white flour and artificial sugar, carbonated beverages etc. Fat must be replaced by plenty of fiber and water rich foods.

Proteins should form an essential component of food. About one third of calories intake should comprise of proteins. Some sources rich in proteins are vegetables and lean meat. You should have a lot of liquids like water, milk, juice or even green tea. This will keep your body hydrated. However, avoid liquids like alcohol, carbonated drinks and excessive caffeine rich drinks.

Fruits and vegetables should consist of the largest portion of your meals. However, excessive animal proteins should be avoided. Always eat in moderation. Do not overload your system with excessive food in one go. Eat slowly and drink a glass of water before meals. This will give you a fuller feeling.

You should have a lot of foods with high water and fiber content. These foods give you a fuller feeling, keep the calories count low and keeps your digestive system in good working order. Sugar rich and high fat containing foods should be avoided.  Processed foods should be taken in as less quantities as possible.