A healthy balanced diet can help maintain a good health as well as keep your weight under control. A balanced diet means getting the right kinds and portion sizes of foods.
A healthy weight loss diet requires a variety of foods from each food group. There are five major food groups:
- Dairy or milk products, including cheese, milk and yogurt.
- Grains, including whole-grain, rice, oats, cereal, breads and pasta.
- Fruits, including apples, bananas, berries, grapes, melons and oranges.
- Vegetables, including broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, peas, kale, and spinach
- Proteins-rich foods, including legumes, eggs, and meats (such as chicken, fish, pork and beef).
New dietary guidelines from the U.S. Departments and Agriculture (USDA) recommend fewer calories and smarter food choices. Some of the key recommendations are:
- Follow a balanced diet that are low in saturated, trans fats, cholesterol, added sugars, salt, and alcohol.
- Slowly decrease the amount of calories intake while increasing physical activity to prevent gradual weight gain over time. Exercise regularly and reduce time spent in sedentary behaviors (such as watching TV).
- Eat two cups of fruits and half cups of vegetables every day for an average 2,000-calorie daily diet.
- Eat 3 ounces or more of whole-grain products every day.
- Consume 3 cups of fat-free or low-fat milk products per day.
- Consume fewer than 2,300 mg (approximately one teaspoon of table salt) of sodium a day, and limit added salt when you prepare food.
- Limit cholesterol intake to less than 300 mg per day.
- Make total fat intake no more than 35% of your total calories per day. Choose “good” fats such as fish, nuts, lean meats and vegetable oils containing polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids.
- Do not consume more than one alcoholic drink per day for women and two per day for men.
The most important step to maintain a healthy balanced diet is to educate yourself about what your body needs. Read the nutrition labels of all foods. This will help you know what kind of ingredients, and how much of the calories that are in a serving of food. So you can decide whether to leave it on the shelves or take home to add to your diet in order to achieve your weight loss goals.