10 Tips on Keeping a Balanced Diet.
The word balance gets thrown about a lot nowadays in relation to diet and exercise. When maintaining a healthy lifestyle, it is important to create habits that are sustainable to help achieve a balanced diet. The risk with anything extreme or drastic is that you won’t be able to stick to it long term. This is where ‘balance’ comes in! This doesn’t mean cutting chocolate or cake; we just have to make healthier choices more often. We know that maintaining a balanced diet can be difficult, so here are our 10 tips to help you stay on track with a balanced diet.
Keeping a balanced diet
1. Don’t diet
Cutting out food groups and only living off shakes is not a sustainable way to live, and depriving yourself of food often leads to cravings and binges. Making small manageable changes is a much more successful way to lose weight and keep the weight off! It’s a lifestyle change, not a temporary diet.
2. Balanced meals
Ensure that you are eating carbohydrates, protein and fats with every meal. This will not only keep you fuller for longer but will mean that you are getting adequate macronutrients. Ideally, you want to be filling the majority of your plate with vegetables, and adding some carbohydrates (rice potatoes, etc.) and a source of protein (meat or fish). Healthy fats like olive oil, avocado, nuts, oily fish are also a vital part of a balanced diet, as they help us to absorb certain vitamins and minerals, so don’t forget to include some each day.
3. The 80/20 rule
Ensuring that you are eating healthy meals 80% of the time means that you can be a bit more relaxed 20% of the time. Treat yourself to that occasional burger – just don’t go crazy!
4. Try not to view food as bad and good
This is crucial when creating a healthy relationship with food. There are certain foods that we should be eating less of, but no food is the enemy (unless you have an allergy of course).
5. Be conscious of what you are drinking
There are so many different drinks to choose from, fizzy drinks, juices, smoothies, coffees, vitamin drinks, energy drinks and not to mention alcohol! We often forget that not everything that is marketed to us as healthy is actually good for us, and a lot of these drinks can be very high in calories. It’s important to be aware of what we are drinking and it is even more important to make sure that the majority of our daily fluid intake is coming from water! Drinking water is vital, as it aids the chemical reactions that happen in our body and plays an important part in ensuring that we are metabolising food effectively. We should be aiming to drink at least 2-3 litres a day.
6. Move your body more!
We all know how beneficial exercise is, so try to exercise for 30 minutes 5 times a week. This doesn’t always need to be strenuous exercise, it could just be a brisk walk. Try not to see exercise as a chore, instead find something that you enjoy and get friends involved too!
7. Keep a food diary.
A great way to keep track of the food you are eating throughout the day is by keeping a food diary. There are lots of apps available that can help you to do this, and will even tell you the nutritional value of the food that you are logging. Being mindful of what you are putting into your body helps you to make better choices and understand the macronutrient content of your food. If you find that you are struggling, get a qualified personal trainer or nutritionist to help you.
8. Find healthier alternatives
Thankfully healthy eating is becoming easier and balanced meals are much more readily available in supermarkets and restaurants. Instead of having snacks that are processed and full of sugar opt for some fruit with a handful of nuts or some natural unsweetened yoghurt. Why not make your own pizza base with a tortilla wrap? There are loads of recipes online that can help you to create healthier versions of your favourite meals.
9. Remember what your goals are
Whether your goal is to lose weight, build muscle, get stronger, get fitter or to simply find it easier to walk up the stairs – remember why you are making the changes and choices that you are! Dedication and consistency are key in order to create new healthy habits and consistency is key to achieving your goals.
10. Ask for help!
Whether from a health or fitness professional or just from friends and family. Making changes of any sort can be challenging, so having the support of others is key to succeeding.
Creating a balanced diet and lifestyle is all about finding what works for you so don’t be too hard on yourself if you make mistakes and slip up, just try and get back on track straight away. Create a lifestyle that you can sustain, and most importantly one that makes you happy.
Written by Emily Keel, Health & Fitness Manager at Mountbatten Centre, Portsmouth.