How to Create a Balanced Meal
Your balanced diet may appear different from others’ due to varying nutritional needs, but everyone is encouraged to find the right diet for them and their loved ones so that they can all be healthy.
Each balanced diet is a succession of healthy food choices you make that offer your body all the nutrition it needs to function properly and effectively. While practicing this diet, you will consume at least one balanced meal that includes foods from each food group and the appropriate number of calories for your gender, age, height and weight. A well balanced diet is vital for maintaining your body’s integrity and preserving your physical and mental health, so you must understand how to create and uphold such a diet by making better food choices.
The following sections list examples of balanced diets, how you can begin preparing healthier meals and how you can remain dedicated to a healthier diet. Although a healthy balanced diet may require you to alter what and how you eat, you are reminded that good nutrition can positively affect all areas of your life. Additionally, you can discover recipes and other recommendations to help you enjoy your new diet.
What to Include in a Balanced Meal
Creating balanced meals is the first step in securing a stable and healthy diet. Making smart food choices throughout the day contributes to a well-balanced diet and a healthier you. A balanced diet can be constructed in your own kitchen using ingredients you may already have, giving everything the opportunity to take control of their nutritional health. To learn how to eat a balanced diet, you may refer to this list of foods that you should include in your meals:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains
- Lean proteins (e.g., eggs and chicken)
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When planning a balanced meal using these products, you can check the types of vitamins and minerals available in the foods to ensure you are getting all recommended daily nutrients. Next, you should combine your preferred food items to meet daily calorie intake guidelines imposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). You should meet these guidelines while keeping your plate colorful with a mixture of fruits, vegetables and meats for each meal:
- Children between the ages of two and eight. They should consume 1,000 to 1,400 calories per day.
- Girls between the ages of nine to 13. They should consume 1,400 to 1,600 calories per day.
- Boys between the ages of nine to 13. They should consume 1,600 to 2,000 calories per day.
- Active women between the ages of 14 and 30. They should consume about 2,400 calories per day.
- Sedentary women between the ages of 14 and 30. They should consume 1,800 to 2,000 calories per day.
- Active men between the ages of 14 and 30. They should consume 2,800 to 3,200 calories per day.
- Sedentary men between the ages of 14 and 30. They should consume 2,000 to 2,600 calories per day.
- Active men and women 30 years old and older. They should consume 2,000 to 3,000 calories per day.
- Sedentary men and women 30 years old and older. They should consume 1,600 to 2,400 calories per day.
Note: The calorie guidelines listed above may differ depending on your weight goals and body mass index (BMI).
Tips for Building a Balanced Meal
A balanced meal requires the right portions of foods and beverages that meet your nutritional needs. While your balanced diet should be personalized, the following tips may still help you create a suitable diet:
- Seek out whole grains instead of white flour. White flour has little nutritional value, but whole grains offer fiber and other essential nutrients like B vitamins.
- Remove skin and visible fat from meats. Doing this helps reduce the amount of fat and cholesterol that you consume, creating a more balanced diet.
- Try low-fat dairy products or dairy alternatives. Traditional dairy contains a lot of fat, so finding low-fat alternatives can provide you with necessary calcium and vitamin D without making you consume extra fat.
- Use oils sparingly. Replace vegetable oil with olive oil and avoid deep-fried foods dipped in greasy oils; you should also limit your use of salad dressings and mayonnaise as these products have high amounts of oil.
- Avoid certain foods. Alcohol, refined grains (e.g., white bread), saturated and trans fats and salt are harmful to your body in moderate amounts. Consuming these foods regularly can cause you to gain weight and develop some diseases linked to diets such as heart disease and diabetes. You should also limit your consumption of empty calories (i.e., foods that offer little nutritional value).
- Discuss your diet with your physician. Your healthcare provider or dietician will be able to offer personalized advice on the nutrients your body needs and suggest balanced meals to help you obtain those nutrients.
- Divide your plate. According to the USDA, approximately half of your plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables in a balanced meal, and half of your grains should be whole grains (i.e., 100 percent whole grain or whole wheat).
These healthy habits will help you make better meal choices that are healthy and well-balanced.
How to Maintain a Balanced Diet
After creating a well balanced diet, you may find it difficult to maintain it due to temptations or the effort necessary to sustain it. The following advice for maintaining your balanced diet can help you stay healthy:
- Get creative with your meal. Making a balanced meal fun to make may incline you to prepare healthy meals more often. You are encouraged to experiment with textures and flavors to find the right combination that satisfies you.
- Continue trying new foods. Finding new and exotic foods can make eating healthy feel like an adventure. Search for healthy recipes online or ask friends for recommendations to sample different foods.
- Indulge in a healthy way. While assuming a balanced diet may seem limiting, you should still eat desserts on occasion. Naturally sweet foods like fruit can make the perfect snacks and keep you from feeling restricted in your food choices.
- Remember that every food you eat matters and affects your overall health. Keeping in mind that your physical health is greatly impacted by your diet may make you more committed to a healthy diet. Eating healthy meals has been proven to improve some medical conditions and delay the onset of others.
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