The world of nutrition is constantly changing: new diets, new fads, new discoveries, new superfoods - it can be dizzying! Though the conversation is continually shifting around nutrition, the key to eating healthy has always been balance. Any credible dietitian will tell you that, alongside variety and moderation, balance is one of the three key principles to healthy eating and creating a solid meal plan. Unfortunately, balance is one key element that is often overlooked â€“ especially when dieting.
What is Balanced Nutrition. Balanced nutrition simply refers to a balance of the five food groups - something you probably learned at a very young age but have forgotten over the years. Sometimes they're confused with the three macronutrients - protein, carbohydrates, and fat - but they're actually fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy. To build healthy meals, you need to keep balance in mind.
Why Balance Matters. Each of the five food groups shares the fact that they've been identified as foods healthy and essential for the body. Below is a short list of some of the nutrients each food groups provides. Each food groups contributes a diverse set of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and more - that's why it's so important to consume a balance of foods from all of the food groups.
- Fruits: potassium, dietary fiber, folate, vitamin C
- Vegetables: potassium, dietary fiber, folate, vitamin A, vitamin C
- Grains: dietary fiber, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, selenium
- Protein: B vitamins, zinc, iron, magnesium, vitamin E
- Dairy: calcium, phosphorus, protein, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin B12
A Diet Without Balance. Unfortunately, many dietary approaches today limit or restrict whole food groups. In the long-term, this can deprive your body of healthy nutrition. Some cultures or religions might also restrict whole food groups due to personal beliefs and/or dietary specifications. For example, vegetarians may restrict animal products from the protein food group. Also, those with a lactose intolerance may restrict milk-based products from the dairy food group. The good news is that you can still get the nutrition you need by consuming a variety of foods! Vegetarians can get adequate protein through a variety of protein-rich plant sources beyond meat including nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, peas, and soy products. Lactose intolerant individuals can get enough calcium by consuming fortified products, select leafy greens, and other calcium-rich foods. The key here is having the right education and knowledge to make smart healthy choices.
Overall, adequate nutrition is critical to help the body to function at its peak. Balanced nutrition is required all throughout life - in our work, our families, and our foods. Creating a healthy eating routine with balance can be beneficial to your overall health now and in the future. Remember, consuming from a balance of food groups translates to a balance of nutrients! The diet you implement and the foods you choose matter. We know getting enough protein in your diet can be challenging at times, so balancing out your diet with a high protein bar is a great way to add extra protein into your diet.