Balanced Eating: Expert Tips For Crafting Nutrient-Rich Meals

One of the biggest confusions about staying healthy is how to eat right because depending on where you look, a ‘healthy’ diet can look very different. Sure, we’ve been told since we were kids that eating healthy is necessary, but does that mean loading up on fruits and veggies, going on week-long juice cleanses, or purging all carbs from our diet? Thanks to the overwhelming amount of information we face online, the concept of balanced, healthy eating is wildly skewed. 

What Is A Balanced Diet?

In simple terms, eating a healthy, well-rounded diet plays a vital role in keeping you in good health and feeling your best. While certain individuals like athletes might need additional support from things like top-quality protein powders and protein bars to fuel muscle growth, most of us can meet our nutritional needs by ensuring we eat a diverse range of healthy foods.

A balanced diet provides the necessary fuel for your body to function effectively. Without proper nutrition, your body becomes more susceptible to illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. To ensure your body operates at its best, it's essential to eat a variety of foods and limit your intake of salt, sugars, and saturated fats.

Why Is It Necessary To Learn More?

Even though the Indian diet is often seen as more healthy for being more naturally vegetarian and including less processed food, the statistics show that this isn’t the case at all. According to the Nutrition Awareness Index, developed by YouGov, over 53% of young Indians (aged 18-35) find nutrition access challenging, while over 50% feel that they eat a balanced diet, although when asked they failed to correctly identify nutritional food sources. 

This survey showed that while there was a growing awareness of what was needed for a healthy lifestyle, there was no real understanding of how to achieve it. 

How Can You Acheive A Balanced Diet?

Since finding that balance is a whole undertaking unto itself, we’ve called in some expert advice to help you along. Sargam Gupta is an MSc. in DFSM, PGD in Nutrition & Dietetics as well as a Health & Wellness Nutritionist and here are 8 top tips that she has for you to build that ultimate diet plan. 

1. Include All The Food Groups

We all know the line about ‘five portions of fruit and veg a day’, but that doesn’t mean loading up on fresh produce will fix everything. “Include a wide variety of foods from all food groups - fruits, vegetables,  proteins, whole grains, and dairy.” says Gupta “This ensures you get a broad spectrum of nutrients.” 

2. Choose Your Proteins Wisely

The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of protein per day sits around 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight so it’s good to consider all your options when making your diet plan. “Choose protein sources like chicken and fish if non-vegetarian, and beans, peas, tofu, lentils etc. if vegetarian,” says Gupta, “[but] limit red meat and processed meats.”

3. Choose The Alternative Life

Alternative grains have been a huge topic of discussion recently and if you have access to them, Gupta definitely recommends them over your refined grain standards. “Opt for whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat pasta, and whole-grain bread instead of refined grains. Include alternative grains or multigrain atta.”

4. Rely On Healthy Fats

Healthy fats, can benefit our well-being by supporting heart health and aiding in nutrient absorption while unhealthy fats, often found in processed foods and fried items, can contribute to health issues such as heart disease and weight gain. “Include sources of healthy fats like avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil. Limit saturated and trans fats. And try to include ghee in your diet.” says Gupta.

5. Reduce Your Sugar Intake

It’s no surprise that a healthy diet doesn’t include masses of processed sugar, Gupta recommends reading food labels and choosing products with lower sugar content to minimise your intake. And it should be noted that ‘sugar-free’ substitutes are not the improvement you’re looking for. 

6. Watch Out For How You Cook

As much as WHAT you eat, it’s HOW you eat that can make all the difference. “A lot depends on cooking methods.” says Gupta, “Choose healthier cooking methods like steaming, baking, grilling, or sautéing instead of frying. This reduces the added fat and calories.”

7. Plan Ahead

“Plan your meals ahead of time to ensure a balanced intake. This helps you make healthier choices and avoid last-minute unhealthy options,” says Gupta One of the biggest pitfalls when trying to stay healthy is impulsive eating. Though your busy lifestyle might make this seem impossible, taking a few hours every week can change your whole approach to food. 

8. Listen To Your Body

Every person is different and will respond to a new die differently, and it’s important not to try to pursue a diet that isn’t working for you. “Pay attention to your body's hunger and fullness cues.” adds Gupta, “Avoid distractions while eating and savour each bite. This also will help in portion control.”