How to Create a Balanced Diet
There is no such thing as a perfect diet, mostly because nutritional needs can vary person to person and even day to day based on things like energy output, an illness, or stress levels. That said, there are some general principles that most everyone can apply to create a foundation for a balanced and well-rounded diet.
When considering a well-rounded and balanced diet, we look to both the macronutrients and micronutrients to ensure ample nutrition is provided. Let’s start with the macronutrients – fat, carbohydrates, and protein.
Most foods consist a combination of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, but they can be generally categorized as one or the other based on whichever nutrient is highest. While the exact ratio varies for each person, everyone’s diet should have some level of all three nutrients. Fats are the typically the lowest percentage of the diet, usually ranging from about 15-30% of total calories consumed. Proteins and carbohydrates are the more predominant sources, ranging from 25-50% of the diet.
Now let’s discuss micronutrients. Beyond the macronutrients, food also provides vitamins and minerals which contribute to hundreds of functions in our bodies. Knowing the exact levels of vitamin and minerals in your food is unlikely, so the best way to ensure you’re getting what you need is to eat a wide variety of foods, herbs, and spices.
Finally, a balanced diet includes plenty of water to stay well hydrated. Our bodies can be up to 75% water and we must be constantly replacing what we use on a daily basis. Even a minor loss of hydration levels can begin to negatively affect our health.
Now that you know the general components of a balanced diet, let’s look at how to translate that into actual food you eat.
Here are some example of quality sources of each nutrient:
An easy way to ensure balance is by looking at approximate servings. Each day will vary – so some days may be higher in fat and lower in protein, others may be highest in protein and lower in carbohydrates. Your diet doesn’t have to be the exact same ratios or total intake every day.
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Follow this 3-step plan to create a well-rounded and enjoyable diet:
- Include some fat, some protein, and some carbohydrate at most meals and snacks.
- Have a variety of foods to ensure you’re getting an array of not only fats, proteins, and carbohydrates but also of vitamins and minerals.
- Choose the highest quality sources of the foods you eat, including organic and unprocessed foods that will contain the most nutrients with the least amount of chemicals or other unwanted ingredients.
When you eat a balanced diet, you’ll not only be providing your body with ample nutrients for good health, you’ll also be more satiated and satisfied. Start by looking at what you’re currently eating and evaluating what may be a little too much or not enough.
If you’re just getting started with understanding the nutrients your food provides, we encourage you to begin reading food labels to gain a perspective on the amount of nutrients in your foods. Avoid the urge to count calories, or even to count macronutrients! Use the data as a guide to ensure you're getting enough of the necessary nutrients.
Discover the difference between whole vs processed foods and what's best for health.
If you’re ready to take your learning to the next step, join our Moms Wellness Academy to learn more about the all the facets that go into creating a balanced diet that's right for you and your family.