A balanced diet is important for everyone. When combined with physical activity, eating well can help your body stay energized and strong. While there is no set definition of healthy eating, there are useful strategies you can take every day to ensure you are eating a balanced diet that can lead to disease prevention.
In this article, you can find quick tips to follow at home to help you eat a healthy and balanced diet.
Tip #1 – Aim to eat 3 balanced meals per day and 1-2 snacks per day.
By eating every 3-4 hours, our body can manage our appetite, stay energized throughout the day, prevent feeling starved and help us make healthy choices at mealtimes. Imagine going into a meal and delightfully choosing the vegetable over the macaroni & cheese?
Snacking on protein and fiber-dense options is key to keeping us focused and full throughout the day, which can prevent nighttime cravings and impulsive eating.
By including snacks, you can also have more nutrient-dense foods that serve a strong purpose in your body.
How to snack: Include 1-2 snacks per day in between breakfast and lunch and lunch and dinner. Healthy snack ideas should include a protein, such as cheese or nuts, and a carbohydrate, such as a fruit or whole-grain cracker.
- Examples of snack ideas:
Tip #2 - Eating 5-7 servings of fruit & vegetables per day
Research says eating 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables per day can decrease inflammation in the body. Most chronic diseases stem from inflammation. Therefore, carefully including fruits and vegetables are super crucial to managing your health. The reason being—fruits and vegetables have antioxidants. Antioxidants act as an anti-inflammatory and can reverse oxidative stress that is linked to cancer. For the most part, only fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants and should be included in at least 2 meals and at least 2 snacks daily.
An example of a sample day and meal planner could look like this:
Tip #3 - Choose fiber
Carbohydrates are what give our body energy. When filling a car with gas (its fuel), isn’t it important to choose the right one? I am no mechanic, but I was advised never to put premium gas in a regular tank. Like gas, our body needs the right fuel, and by fuel, I mean the right form of carbohydrates. Currently, the American diet is filled with white carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, and cereal. The problem with carbohydrates that don’t have fiber (AKA white, simple, and refined carbohydrates) is they don’t provide us with long-term energy throughout the day. Our body rapidly digests them. Therefore, when looking to eat healthily and even manage chronic diseases such as diabetes, it is vital, we learn to choose carbohydrates that have fiber. By choosing carbs with fiber, we will fill our body with the right gas it needs to run more efficiently and keep us full longer.
Easy tip—when looking at a nutrition label for snacks, bread, pasta brands, crackers, cereal, granola, and to-go bars, choose brands that have more than 3 grams of fiber per serving.
Tip #4 – Hydrate!
It won’t “burn fat,” but it will help you feel full at each meal. Hydrating can reduce cravings. Did you know when you are dehydrated, you might crave food more or not feel satisfied? No drinking water does not “burn fat” or “fill us up,” but when we satisfy our hydration needs, we will feel more satisfied with our meals and more in control of our appetite.
Aim for at least 64 ounces of water per day (2 – 32-ounce bottles like the picture would be a great way to measure).
If you have a disease such as a kidney disease or congestive heart failure, ask your doctor what an appropriate amount of water would be for you.