What is balanced eating?

balanced eating

Over the years, there has been much debate as to what constitutes a balanced diet. In 1992, the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) provided the food guide pyramid in order to address what foods should be included in a healthy diet. This food guide pyramid was corrected many times as it was a result of shaky scientific evidence not effectively showing the strong link between food and health. In recent years, policy changed again, eliminating the food guide pyramid. USDA’s My Plate is now used to communicate a balanced diet.

The Harvard School of Public Health recently adapted the USDA’s MyPlate in order to correct any deficiencies within it. It is used to help create balanced, healthy meals.

Here is what the Harvard School of Pubic Health suggests:

Make most of your meal vegetables and fruits – ½ of your plate:

Aim for color and variety, and remember that potatoes don’t count as vegetables on the Healthy Eating Plate because of their negative impact on blood sugar.

Go for whole grains – ¼ of your plate:

Whole and intact grains—whole wheat, barley, wheat berries, quinoa, buckwheat, rye, millet, oats, brown rice, and foods made with them, such as whole wheat pasta—have a milder effect on blood sugar and insulin than white bread, white rice, and other refined grains.

Protein power – ¼ of your plate:

Fish, chicken, beans, and nuts are all healthy, versatile protein sources—they can be mixed into salads, and pair well with vegetables on a plate. Limit red meat, and avoid processed meats such as bacon and sausage.

Healthy plant oils – in moderation:

Choose healthy vegetable oils like olive oil and avoid partially hydrogenated oils, which contain unhealthy trans fats. Remember that low-fat does not mean “healthy.”

Drink water, coffee, or tea:

Skip sugary drinks, limit milk and dairy products to one to two servings per day, and limit juice to a small glass per day.

Stay active:

The red figure running across the Healthy Eating Plate’s placemat is a reminder that staying active is also important in weight control.

Although there are still some dietary issues to be addressed, this model sets the stage for what a balanced diet should include. It is also important to remember that changing the way we eat also has to do behaviour modification. A recent systematic review looking at collective research for effective weight loss published by Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 2014, showed that increased fiber intake, increased physical activity, and behaviour training such as self-monitoring were the top success indicators of achievable and attainable weight loss. In plain English, if you eat a plant-based diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, beans, and legumes and include physical activity and make small sustainable changes to your eating habits, success in weight loss is inevitably yours.

Here are some tips to get you started:

Use SuperBody to keep track of what you are eating. Research shows that the first step to weight loss is to become aware of your eating habits. Most people gravely underestimate how much and what they actually eat. Becoming aware of this will greatly enhance your chances of success.

Replace all your drinks with water. This will help you to avoid sugary and caffeinated drinks and will help you to keep hydrated. Try to achieve or surpass your SuperBody fluid requirements. If you only drink a cup of water a day, make small weekly goals to increase consumption.

Include a fruit or a salad at every meal for extra fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The more colors you choose, the more variety in terms of nutrient density you will include in your diet.

Eat breakfast within an hour of waking up. Get your metabolism moving by introducing fuel in the morning. Not used to eating breakfast? Start slowly by eating something small like a banana.

Reduce or eliminate sugar, white flour, and/or commercial breads. A lot of foods today are packed with hidden sugar and processed flours. These foods increase stress hormones and throw off natural hormonal processes. Try to replace with natural sugars from fruits, whole grains like quinoa, buckwheat, or oats, and buy sprouted grain breads that are nutrient dense.

Do you not know how to create a nutritious daily food plan? No time to calculate carbohydrates, proteins and fats? Download the SuperBody app and we will help you begin to eat right!

References:

Healthy Eating Plate and Healthy Eating Pyramid, (2014), Accessed on August 7, 2014 from http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-eating-plate/

Ramage S, Farmer A, Apps Eccles K, McCargar L. Healthy strategies for successful weight loss and weight maintenance: a systematic review. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism 2014; 39(1): 1-20.

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