Every month a certain type of diet takes over the market promising significant results. We have heard about the great GM diet, keto diets, detox diets and each one promises significant weight loss, often in a short period of time. But has anyone ever wondered, what actually happens to the body when you drastically change the way you eat, restricting certain food groups or only allowing you to eat the same foods repeatedly?
While in the short term these diets can help move the needle on your weighing scale but the long terms effects can take a toll on your health. The most common long term side effects include slower metabolism, rebound weight gain, muscle loss, nutritional deficiencies and even increased risk of lifestyle disorders such as diabetes and heart disease. The immediate “results” on a crash diet is just an illusion, as weight loss is likely to come from water and muscles rather than fat. Moreover, losing weight quickly is not sustainable, and you’ll almost definitely end up regaining everything you lost – many kinds of research have proven this to be true. The reason you often put weight back on after crash dieting is because what you’ve lost is not really fat but the lean muscle mass which can lead to tiredness, weakness, headaches and low energy levels. So, the focus should be on losing fat rather than just worrying about the digits on the weighing scale.
There is no quick fix to losing weight quickly, so planning is important. The best way to lose weight in a healthy manner would be sticking to a balanced diet and an active lifestyle. A balanced diet is not a crash diet; it aims at providing all the important macro-nutrients like protein, carbohydrates, and fat along with micronutrients which include vitamins and minerals as per your body’s requirements. These nutrients are derived through a combination of the five major food groups – fruits and vegetables, cereals and pulses, meat and dairy products and fats and oils. So, no foods are restricted in a balanced diet, the major focus should be to include each and every food group in the right proportions and consume them at the right time.
The benefits of consuming a balanced diet are numerous and will help you in retaining sustained good physical, mental and even emotional health. Therefore opting for a balanced diet is an important step towards a happy and healthy lifestyle.
- A balanced diet provides a good amount of vitamins and minerals in the diet are vital to boost immunity and healthy physical as well as cognitive development.
- A healthy balanced diet can protect the human body against certain types of diseases, in particular noncommunicable diseases such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, some types of cancer and skeletal conditions.
- Balanced diets can also contribute to adequate body weight. Although the weight loss rate might be slow as compared to crash diets. But balanced diets help in sustainable weight loss.
- Healthy eating is a good opportunity to enrich life by experimenting with different foods from different cultures, origins and different ways to prepare food. A balanced diet gives you that opportunity to include different foods and cooking methods and therefore helps you enjoy a variety.
- The benefits of eating a wide variety of foods are also emotional, as variety and color are important ingredients of a balanced diet.
Here are some pointers on how to include different food groups in your meals to eat a nutritionally balanced diet.
Fruits and Vegetables:
It is the most important component of a balanced diet. Fruits and vegetables are the richest sources of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber.
- Follow ‘The half-plate rule’, i.e., at least 50% of your plate should be filled vegetables.
- They are naturally low in calories, fat, and rich in dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
- Help lower the risk of developing lifestyle diseases but also help in improving digestion.
- Vegetables can be taken in raw (salad) as well as cooked form. You can cook vegetables in a variety of ways including stir-frying, sautéing, roasting or steaming.
- Fruits serve as a great snacking option and thus including at least 1-2 whole fruits round the day in between meals would be good.
- The aim should be to go for more veggies and use fruits as healthy snacks in between meals.
Grains provide us with carbohydrates, which are our body’s main energy source. However, in a balanced diet, the main focus should be on the quality of grains for instance, whole grains tend to provide more complex carbohydrates than refined grains and better nutritional value.
- They should comprise at least 30% of your plate.
- The emphasis should also be on the quality of grains. My22BMI recommends that at least half of the grains should preferably be whole grains such as barley, quinoa, ragi, jowar, etc. as they contain high amounts of fiber, vitamin B, and other micronutrients compared to refined grains like white bread, pasta.
- Vegetables like potato, sweet potato and yam are nutritionally equivalent to grains. Thus, while planning meals they should be considered in the grains category rather than the vegetables
Eating a well-balanced diet (even for vegetarians and vegans) can help ensure we are getting adequate amounts of protein and all essential amino acids as it helps our bodies repair damaged cells as well as make new ones.
- Quarter half of the plate should be filled with proteins such as legumes, pulses, beans, eggs, meat, seafood, and soy products.
- Red meats and other processed ones like salami, bacon, ham, etc should be limited as they contain high amounts of saturated fats, trans fats, and sodium.
- Choosing lean cuts of meat will provide better nutritional quality.
Milk and milk products:
In a balanced diet, milk and milk products are the richest sources of calcium which is easily available. Milk and milk products are responsible to provide the majority of calcium in our diets.
- They are necessary for maintaining skeletal and teeth health.
- At least 1 serving of dairy in the form of milk/ cheese/ yogurt should be included for adequate intake of calcium.
Fats and oils:
My22BMI never encourages going low on fats and oils. The right quality and quantity of fats are necessary for the absorption of various vitamins and minerals in our body. a balanced diet with “no oil” will never help in the proper absorption of nutrients in the body.
- This group is high in calories should be used sparingly.
- Fats like canola oil, olive oil, mustard oil, and peanut oil are healthier than the saturated ones.
- One should keep switching the oils used in cooking to provide the body with different types of fat.
- Butter and ghee should be used in limited quantities.
- Say no to hydrogenated fats like vanaspati as they can cause inflammation in the body.
Fluids/ water intake:
- Hydration is necessary to avoid fatigue and for proper digestion.
- 8-9 glasses of water round the day will ensure proper hydration to the body.
Apart from taking a balanced diet, creating a lifestyle change that you will be able to sustain throughout your lifetime is equally important. Here are certain changes that you can start incorporating for healthy weight loss:
1. Eliminate processed and packaged foods completely
Pasta, bread, biscuits, namkeens, cheese, salami, sausages, and even cornflakes all come in the category of processed foods. These foods are chemically processed and may contain good amounts of sugar, fats, and sodium. Even the “healthy” labeled ones might provide misleading information and are should not be a part of a balanced diet.
2. Make exercise a part of your routine
Regular exercise is necessary for physical fitness and good health. It reduces the risk of heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other diseases. It can improve your appearance and delay the aging process too. Exercise need not be strenuous to achieve the associated health benefits. Significant health benefits can be obtained with a moderate amount of exercise. You can start by running/ jogging/ dancing or even playing sports like tennis/ badminton. Choose an activity that you enjoy rather than just going to the gym forcefully.
3. Have home-made foods
Cook food at home so that you can be more attentive towards the ingredients and find healthy alternatives to cooking. For example, you can control the quantity of oil, sugar, and salt; the flour to be used and the method of cooking like baking over frying when you are cooking at home.
Contact our qualified nutrition and holistic health experts over a one time Free Consultation Call and get to know what kind of foods are best for you.
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My22BMI is a digital healthcare startup addressing the problem of managing lifestyle diseases through personalized diet plans. My22BMI empowers lives to eat healthily and smartly and believe food should be your first medicine. The expert health coaches provide personalized and balanced diet plans for heart health, gut health, skin & hair health, weight management, mother & child nutrition, and hormonal health. Download our Android app from the Google play store.