What is a Balanced Diet?
Daily Calorie Recommendations
A calorie is the amount of energy stored in a particular food. The body uses calories from food for breathing, thinking, walking and various other important functions. Few examples of daily calories intake based on the United States Department of Agriculture Guidelines are:
- children ages 2 to 8 years: 1,000 to 1,400 calories
- girls ages 9 to 13 years: 1,400 to 1,600 calories
- boys ages 9 to 13 years: 1,600 to 2,000 calories
- active women ages 14 to 30 years: 2,400 calories
- sedentary women ages 14 to 30 years: 1,800 to 2,000 calories
- active men ages 14 to 30 years: 2,800 to 3,200 calories
- sedentary men ages 14 to 30 years: 2,000 to 2,600 calories
- active men and women over 30 years: 2,000 to 3,000 calories
- sedentary men and women over 30 years: 1,600 to 2,400 calories
You should limit your intake of empty calories that provide little or no nutritional value such as the calories that come from sugars, cakes, cheese, cookies, doughnuts, energy drinks, fruit drinks, ice cream, sports drinks and sodas, pizza and solid fats such as butter.
How to Achieve a Balanced Diet
A balanced diet comprises of foods that are low in unnecessary fats and sugars and high in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. These are the six essential parts of a healthy balanced diet:
|Nutrient||Percentage of Daily Calories||Function||Source|
|Carbohydrates||45-55 %||Provide Energy||Grains (refined & unrefined): wheat, maize, corn, millet, oats, rice, flour, pasta, noodles; potatoes; sweet potatoes, yam. Fruit (sugar).|
|Proteins||10-35 %||Help in Tissue Growth & Maintenance||Meat, fish, nuts, eggs, soy, beans and pulses.|
|Fats||20-35%||Source of Energy, Energy Storage & Hormone Production||Nuts, seeds, plant oils, dairy products (milk, cheese).|
|Fibers||Included in Carbohydrates||Regulates Bowel Health, Bowel Function & Blood Sugar Levels||Peas, beans, vegetables, fruit, oats, whole grains, brown rice, nuts, seeds.|
|Vitamins & Minerals||Trace Amounts||Biochemical Functions, Cell Growth & Metabolism Regulation||Specific to each vitamin/mineral. A range of vegetables, lean meat, nuts, and seeds will cover most people’s needs.|
|Water||Zero||Maintaining Hydration||Drinking water, other beverages. About 20% of water intake comes from food.|
If you have questions about your diet or you feel that there is a need to lose weight or change your lifestyle or your eating habits, schedule an appointment with your doctor or a dietitian. They can suggest the required dietary changes that will help you get the nutrition you need while improving your overall health.
What Does a Balanced Diet Includes
A healthy diet should include a varied selection of foods. But some types of food are better for us than others.
Healthy Choices– Adopt Them
Unhealthy Choices– Avoid Them
|Fats, Oils & Nuts||
|Meat, Fish & Poultry||
|Milk and milk products||
|Bread and cereals||
Why a Balanced Diet is Important
Rules for a Balanced Diet
- 1. Get moving to achieve and maintain your desirable body weight
- 2. Ensure adequate intake of mono- and certain poly-unsaturated fats
- 3. Reduce your intake of foods high in cholesterol
- 4. Reduce your total fat intake, particularly the intake of saturated fats and trans fats
- 5. Increase your fiber intake
- 6. Drink alcohol only in moderation and regularly rather than in binges
- 7. Drink enough water or other fluids throughout the day
- 8. Eat a variety of foods
- 9. Use sugar and foods high in simple carbohydrates in moderation
- 10. Use less salt
Thus, the energy you receive to be able to get on with the highs and lows of the day and life can be maximized if your intake of all the nutrients is on point, that is when you are having a balanced diet. Proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals are so important that if you are deficient in even one of these, your body will feel crippled in one or the other way.
So, eat well and live well. After all, you are what you eat!