5 Simple Rules for Maintaining a Balanced Diet
#1 Don’t deprive yourself
It’s important to learn that food is not your enemy. Having an unhealthy relationship with food can sabotage your overall health and wellness. When maintaining a balanced diet, it’s perfectly okay (and encouraged!) to enjoy your favorite foods in moderation. If you’re deeply craving a burger at your friend’s cookout, have a burger! Just be sure to make healthier choices throughout the day when you’re planning on indulging a bit. For example, load your plate with fresh fruit and veggies alongside your burger. If you deprive yourself of your favorite foods, you’ll eventually lose steam and give up on a healthy diet altogether.
#2 Watch your portions
Portion control is an essential part of any healthy diet. Overeating (even if it’s healthy food!) can lead to weight gain and other health consequences. Portion control is especially important when dining out. Many restaurants serve much more food than you need to eat to feel satisfied. Try asking for a to-go box as soon as your food is delivered, and immediately box up half of your meal to take home. You can also practice healthy portion control by measuring and packing your lunches and snacks in containers. This takes the temptation away from overeating.
#3 Stay mindfulLearning to eat mindfully is an essential step in maintaining a balanced diet. Mindful eating is the practice of eating with intention and enjoying the experience of eating. Eating mindfully will help prevent you from overeating, teach you to recognize when you’re full, and make eating more satisfying. Some tactics to master mindful eating include:
- Eating slowly
- Listening to your body
- Creating a healthy eating environment
- Using a food journal
#4 Limit processed foods
While it’s okay to indulge in a favorite treat every once in a while, a balanced diet will contain very small amounts of heavily processed foods. Foods like chicken nuggets, chips, frozen pizza, and snack cakes contain an abundance of added sugars, fat, calories, and chemicals – along with very little to no nutritional value. These types of foods can cause your blood sugar to spike and leave you feeling groggy. Heavily processed foods are also linked to a higher risk of chronic illness, including type 2 diabetes, obesity, cancer, and heart disease. A balanced diet is rich in real food like veggies, fruits, whole-grains, lean protein, and healthy fats.
#5 Read labels
Learning to read labels is an excellent way to keep track of what you’re eating. Both are excellent tools to assist you while shopping or preparing meals. Many times, foods advertised as “healthy” contain a lot of added sugars and chemicals. If you want to maintain a balanced diet, it’s important to be aware of the ingredients in the food you are eating so that you can make better nutritional choices.
At the end of the day, a healthy diet is all about balance. Rather than falling into the cycle of starting a new trendy diet every couple of months, adapting some long-term healthy habits is the best way to truly maintain a healthy diet. Incorporate some of the above tips into your everyday routine to eat a more balanced diet!