Balance and vary your healthy diet

Balance and vary your healthy diet

We have very heard that “you must eat healthy, balanced and varied.” But how do you do it?

Healthy nutrition
Today I want to give you the bases so that you can do it without difficulties.

Table of Contents

  • 1 What is healthy eating
  • 2 What is a balanced diet
  • 3 What is a varied diet
    • 3.1 Steps to plan a varied and balanced diet

What is healthy eating

What is healthy eating? I am going to summarize what a healthy diet consists of in a very quick and easy way. Healthy eating is one that is based on vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds .

Where vegetable protein predominates over animal protein, but it does not exclude the latter (meat, fish, eggs and dairy products and derivatives). In a healthy diet, the fat par excellence is extra virgin olive oil, although it does not exclude other vegetable oils. As a drink, it only accepts water, mainly.

Healthy eating is one that excludes all kinds of ultra-processed products (rich in fats of low nutritional quality and sugars), sugars, sweets, pastries, pre-cooked food, refined cereals, juices, sugary drinks, in short, everything that is not food.

And since they say that an image is worth a thousand words, we could summarize healthy eating like this (you can download the image by clicking on it):

Adapted from the Harvard Health Food Plate.

What is a balanced diet

To eat balanced it is only necessary to respect the frequency of consumption. And respect that the dishes of each meal (lunch and dinner) are like those in the previous image.
The frequency of consumption (SENC, 2004) is:

  • Potato, cereals and bread (wholemeal): 4-6 servings a day.
  • Vegetables and vegetables: minimum 2 servings per day.
  • Fruits: minimum 3 servings a day.
  • Olive oil: 3-6 servings a day.
  • Milk and derivatives: 2-4 servings per day.
  • Fish: 3-4 servings a week.
  • Meat and eggs: 3-4 servings a week.
  • Legumes: 2-4 servings a week.
  • Nuts 3-7 servings a week.

I highlight the “minimum” in vegetables, greens and fruits because that is, a minimum. I also highlight legumes and nuts because their consumption should be enhanced. Regarding potatoes, cereals and bread, I disagree with the SENC and I think that 2-3 servings a day is enough.

What is a varied diet

This is an aspect that I want to be very clear. The fact that the diet is varied does NOT mean that we have to eat everything . The diet must be varied within a healthy offer.

Therefore, all sweets, pastries, highly processed products, precooked foods, snacks, salty appetizers, alcoholic, sugary drinks … I do not even recommend its occasional consumption (you will take care of it if I recommend not to consume it).

You can play with the colors of fruits and vegetables, try different and new whole grains, and alternate the consumption of different legumes, nuts and seeds.

To vary your diet you just have to follow the frequency of consumption and be very imaginative and creative. Encourage them to try new foods and dishes and never stop cooking.

Steps to plan a varied and balanced diet

For your meals to be healthy, balanced and varied, you just have to follow these steps:

  1. Fill in the meal template with food groups, taking into account the frequency of consumption and the recommendations for healthy eating that you read in the first point (you can download the template by clicking on it).
  2. Add characteristics on them that help you vary the diet.
  3. Substitute specific foods for food groups.
  4. Create plates respecting the proportions of the healthy food plate.

Here you have an example of it:

As you will see, in week 2 I have used escalivada several times, which is why I always tell you that it is good to cook on Sunday for the whole week, so that you can see different uses. Almost all the preparations could fit some seeds or nuts, which is not indicated but is possible.

We must also balance these meals of the month with dinners, in the same way that we have done with these.

In the final menu there are three different colors (the three of the duck) vegetables and vegetables with green, whole grains with brown and quality protein with red. I recommend having a fruit for dessert every day. Sample meal planning template

* I had to reduce the font size and eliminate the first column because otherwise it would not fit, but each row is a week of the month. If you want to expand it, you can download the monthly menu by clicking on it.

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