“A balanced diet” – it’s one of those phrases you’ll hear thrown around a lot on TV, in cookbooks, and even by your doctor. But what does it actually mean, and what does a truly balanced meal look like?
One of the easiest ways to understand balance when it comes to the food we eat is to divide things into their respective food groups.
Fruit and vegetables, for example, are crucial for a healthy diet – which is why the government is always trying to convince you to eat more of them. Have you had your five a day, yet?
Starchy foods such as rice, potato, bread and pasta form the basis of most meals, and are where we get the majority of our energy from. It’s generally recommended that you try and get two portions of these kinds of food each day.
Protein comes in the form of meat, fish, dairy and eggs. You don’t need as much protein as you do other types of food, but it is an important component that keeps you healthy and helps you build muscle.
Foods rich in fat and sugar also form another group. Examples include chips, milkshakes, almost all desserts and most fizzy drinks. Although we do need some fat and sugar in our diet, most people already consume too much of these types of food. People are often advised to try and cut down the amount of fatty sugary foods they eat.
Next time you sit down for a meal, take a look at your plate. Which food groups might you need more of – and which do you have too much of already?
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