Have you ever heard the phrase you are what you eat? Bearing in mind that consider this, have you asked yourself this question, am I eating a balanced diet? I am sure some of you will agree with me that if we do a study of our regular eating habits, the findings will not be somewhat too good.
As an individual the way you balance your meals is important. A balanced diet will not be the same for everyone. Everyone is different, and often individuals will require a different amount and type of nutrients. 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.
Nutritionists say that you can improve your health by keeping a balanced diet. A balanced diet is a way of ensuring you eat all of the required nutrients for your body to function properly. Essentially there are six main classes of nutrients that the body needs: carbohydrates, proteins, fats, Vitamins, Minerals and Water.
Arguably, for many Nigerians having a balanced diet is of no importance. In fact, considering what many Nigerians eat, there is little room for balanced diets or indeed healthy eating. A visit to some of the popular markets or fast food joints in Lagos is an eye opener to some of the regular eating habits of many Nigerians. It can be tough to eat healthy all the time when sometimes all you just want to do is reach for some crispy french-fries, a spicy and greasy burger or some sugar doughnut. But tell me, how healthy is that? Someone once told me that his day is never complete without rice, spaghetti, with assorted beef in the morning and lots of beer in between meals.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh only recently was reported in the media to have said that Nigerians eat poisons. According to him, “How do we persuade people to take more of fruits as against the carbohydrate they are used to?”
Every day many people readily are eating unhealthy and unbalanced diet. They eat conveniently at a stretch at everything put before them and not see anything harmful in that. Healthy eating and having a balanced diet can feel overwhelming, but it is not impossible. Here are a few food groups to guide you on the part of eating healthy.
Fruits and vegetables
According to the National Health Service (NHS) of England, fruit and vegetables are a vital source of vitamins and minerals, and should make up just over a third of the food we eat each day. Dieticians advise that we eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. There is evidence that people who eat at least five portions a day have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke and some cancers. Eating five portions is not as hard as it sounds. Just one apple, banana, pear or similar-sized fruit is one portion. A slice of pineapple or melon is one portion. Three heaped tablespoons of vegetables is another portion.
Eat less saturated fat and sugar
There are two types of fat that can be found in food, saturated and unsaturated. Unsaturated is thought to be good fat. Too much saturated fat can increase the amount of cholesterol in the blood, which increases your risk of developing heart disease, while regularly consuming foods and drinks high in sugar increases your risk of obesity and tooth decay.
Go for Whole Grains
According to dieticians, it is important to make at least half your grain choices whole grains. Examples of whole grains are whole grain wheat, whole oats or oatmeal, pot barley and bulgur. Whole grains are higher in vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients (natural plant compounds) than refined grains. Research shows that a diet rich in whole grains is heart healthy.
Meats 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 cuts of pork and beef are the best options. Removing the skin and trimming off any visible fat are easy ways to reduce the amount of fat and cholesterol in meats. The health and diet of the animal are important, and influence the fatty acid profile of the meat, so grass-fed choices are ideal.
Drink a lot of water
The Eatwell Guide suggests we drink six to eight glasses of fluid a day. This includes water, tea, coffee and sugar-free drinks. Like all things nutrition, water intake depends on the individual and the lifestyle they lead. Water is also the solvent of the body and it regulates all functions, including the activity of everything it dissolves and circulates.