A balanced diet is one which gives your body all the nutrients it needs to function correctly. It is important for you to set the proper nutrition from your daily calories in fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, whole grains, legumes nuts, lean proteins. The number of calories in a food is a measurement of the amount of energy stored in that food. Your body uses up calories from your food for walking, thinking, breathing and other important functions.
The average person needs to eat about 2,000 calories every day to maintain their weight. However, a person’s specific daily calorie intake can vary depending on their age, gender and physical activity level. Men generally need more calories than women, and people who exercise need more calories than people who don’t. The following examples of daily calorie intake are based on United States department of agriculture (USDA) guidelines:
- Children ages 2to 8 years – 1,000 to 1,400 calories.
- Girls ages 9 to 13 years – 1,400 to 1,600 calories
- Boys ages 9 to 13 years – 1,600 to 2000 calories
- Active women ages 14 to 30 years – 2,400 calories
- Active men ages 14 to 30 years – 2,800 to 3,200 calories.
The source of your daily calories is just as important as the number of calories you consume. You should limit your consumption of empty calories, meaning those that provide little or no nutritional value.
Why Balanced Diet Is Important
A balanced diet is important because your organs and tissues need proper nutrition to work effectively. Without good nutrition, your body is more prone to disease, infection, fatigue, and poor performance. Children with a poor diet run the risk of growth and developmental problems and poor academic performance, and bad eating habits can persist for the rest of their lives.
Rising levels of obesity and diabetes in Africa and other parts of the world are prime examples of the effects of a poor diet and a lack of exercise. The center for science in the public interest reports that 4 out of the top 10 leading causes of death around the world are directly influenced by diet. These are heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes.
What makes up a Balanced Diet?
At the core of a balanced diet are foods that are low in unnecessary fats and sugars, and high in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. The following food groups are essential parts of a balanced diet.
Besides being a great source of nutrition, fruits make tasty snacks. Choose fruits that are in season in your area. They’re fresher and provide the most nutrients. Fruits are high in sugar which is natural and can still be a better choice for you than other foods with added sugar. If you’re watching your sugar intake or have a condition such as diabetes, you may want to opt for low sugar fruits. People who are watching their carbohydrate intake may reach for fruits such as melons and avocadoes.
Vegetables are primary sources of essential vitamins and minerals. Dark leafy greens generally contain the most nutrition and can be eaten at every meal. Eating a variety of vegetables will help you obtain the bountiful nutrients that all vegetables provide. Examples of dark leafy green include: spinach, kale, green bean, broccoli, collard greens e.tc.
In many countries, people consume refined white flour more than any other grain. Refined white flour has poor nutritional value because the hull of the grain or outer shell is remove during the refining process. The hull is where the majority of the grains nutrition lies. Whole grains however are prepared using the entire grain including the hull. They provide much more nutrition.
Meat and beans are primary sources of protein, a nutrient that is essential for proper muscle and brain development. Lean low fat meats such as chicken , fish, and certain cut of pork and beef are the best options. Removing the skin and trimming off any visible parts are easy ways to reduce the amounts of fat and cholesterol in meats. Nuts and beans are good sources of protein and contain many other health benefits as well as fiber and other nutrients.