The Health Advocate

by Hannah Whittenly, The Health Advocate

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You don’t need to cut whole food groups from your diet to be healthy. In fact, unless you have an allergy that requires it, you shouldn’t cut food groups. A balanced diet is one that gives the body all the necessary nutrition to function correctly. Balanced diets help maintain excellent overall health and prevent diseases. Someone who follows a well-balanced diet takes in the proper amount of calories without resorting to empty calories. Below are some ideas for cultivating a well-balanced diet.

Incorporate All Food Groups
Vegetables, fruits, grains, protein, and dairy are the five pillars of a balanced diet. To prevent boredom, prepare your meals in different ways. Try grilling your vegetables or using an air fryer instead of a typical steaming method. Mix spices and try new flavors. Vibrant meals that appeal to the senses are savory and fulfilling, which is key to helping you stick to a balanced diet.

Limit Portion Sizes
Balanced meals should be the correct portion sizes. For example, the right serving of meat is three or ounces about the size of your palm. The last time you had steak, you probably had at least twice that. Be mindful of what you’re eating and how much of it you’re eating. Put away the Fred Flintstone plate and opt for the smaller dish. You will be less likely to overeat when your food is plated appropriately. For a perfectly sized breakfast, take some cottage cheese on a piece of French baguette loaf.

Try New Foods
You don’t know what you are missing until you try it. Some foods, like quinoa, have bad reputations for no reason. Research how to prepare and cook with new ingredients. Expanding your palate will prevent you from making poor eating decisions. A fresh kale salad prepared with mango beats greasy pizza any day of the week. A balanced meal does not always have to be chicken, rice, and broccoli. Check out your local farmer’s market for fresh and seasonal foods.

Occasional Treats
Balanced diets also include the occasional treat. The key to a successful diet is moderation. Limit yourself to one donut and not the entire box. Constant deprivation of treats leads to unhealthy binge eating and a vicious cycle that is near impossible to break. The 90-10 rule is a great model to follow. Allow yourself one cheat meal out of ten for the week.

Sticking to a well-balanced diet is not about strict limitations or starving yourself. Healthy eating is about feeling good and improving your overall health. Balanced diets do not have to be complicated or time-consuming. Eat food as close to its natural form as possible. Try a 30-day challenge of avoiding the microwave and cooking your food. You will be on your way to establishing a lifestyle and not a diet.

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