We hear of balanced diet and probably learnt about it in school, but what really is a balanced diet and how can we achieve it in our daily lives?
By way of definition, a balanced diet is simply a diet containing the right quantity and proportion of the different nutrients in a day. These nutrients are classified as below:
1. Carbohydrates: While carbohydrates can be converted to fat and thus contribute to weight gain if taken in excess, our body derives most of its needed energy from them. This is particularly true for the brain making carbohydrate a necessity in our diet. Example of sources of carbohydrate include rice, pasta, wheat, bread, garri, yam etc
2. Proteins: Usually termed the building blocks of life, proteins are an essential component of our diet. In addition to muscle growth, they also help in repair and healing of damaged tissues. Sources include poultry, dairy/milk products, fish, meat etc.
3. Fats: There is a false believe that fats are bad for the body. On the contrary, fats are necessary for life and usually cause problems only when in excess or not adequate enough. They serve as a long-term energy stores, help protect your organs from damage, enhance absorption of some vitamins and keep your body warm, among other functions. They can be derived from eggs, walnuts, butter, cheese, fatty fish, leafy green, avocado etc.
4. Vitamins, minerals and fibre: These work generally to improve the overall function of the body and enhance resistance to diseases, including hypertension. Unfortunately, this group of nutrients is the least consumed by most people. They can mostly be derived from fruits (mangoes, oranges, bananas, pineapples etc) and vegetables (ugu, bitter leaf, lettuce, cabbage, waterleaf etc). It is very important to include them in your daily diet. There is a variety of options to pick from so get eating.
How do you achieve a balanced diet in a practical way you ask? Well, ensure that you include all 4 classes of nutrients in your daily diet. This should not be too difficult as there are a number of options to choose from. More quantities of fruits and vegetable are recommended as they also contain some carbohydrates, while carbohydrate-predominant sources (rice, bread etc) should be cut down but not eliminated. However, ensure not to overfeed or eat late.