Healthy eating can mean many different things.As a guide, these are all considered to be examples of healthy eating.
- Eating on a regular basis, generally 3-6 times a day
- Starting your day with breakfast
- Limit junk food
- Limit processed food
- Eating mostly a vegetarian diet
- Eat a variety of different foods
- Not eating sweets or other sugary foods
- Ensuring a good balance of carbohydrates, proteins and fats
- Controlling calories to avoid weight gain
- Eating fresh fruits and raw or partly cooked vegetables
- Limiting red meat
- Avoid saturated fat
- Not eating late at night
- Eating a mostly low to medium GI diet
- Eating at least 5 portions of fruits and vegetables each day
- Limit salt
- Limit alcohol
- Preparing meals from fresh ingredients
- Not relying on bread (or any other staple) for most energy
There are obviously many other rules that you could apply to a healthy diet. Once you factor in seasonal, regional and cultural variations this list will change. Some cultures do not consider pork to be healthy, others avoid foods out of season. Many Chinese people follow rules set out in Traditional Chinese Medicine, such as not eating cold foods during the winter.
How To Eat A Balanced Diet
A balanced diet has actually become less important over the last 50 years, at least, following a balanced diet alone is no longer a route to good health. However, a balanced natural diet is healthy. Before the growth of processed and refined foods, most sources of carbohydrates did provide all the nutritional requirements a person needed.
So following a diet that was high in carbohydrates with some proteins and fat added was a good way to stay healthy, as this meant that you would be eating many different vegetables and fruits. People used to shop locally and buy locally grown produce, so throughout the year they would eat a varied diet. Processed food, mass manufacturing and refining has changed this.
Nowadays following a diet that is high in carbohydrate could result in malnutrition for some people, as many people will just eat the same basic food all year round – bread, rice, pasta and fried potato. It is thought that this is one of the main reasons why so many people have become obese and develop heart disease in the last half a century.
So a balanced diet today must focus on not only macro-nutrients, but also on the types of foods eaten within those groups. For example, instead of saying that 70% of your diet should be carbohydrate, the advice today is more like:
- 70% carbohydrate
- 35% staples: wholegrains, brown rice, potato, pasta, cereals
- 35% fresh fruits and vegetables
- 20% protein and fat
- 10% dairy – milk, cheese, yogurt
- 10% eggs, poultry, red meat, fish, white fish and pulses
- 10% treats – cakes, cookies, soda, chocolate, high fat cheese, cooking oils
This approach is aimed at making it more obvious how you should balance your diet. This is how the UK Government’s “Eatwell Plate” came about.