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What is a Balanced Diet?

By Virginia Franco
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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In no particular order, a balanced diet must contain a combination of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and fiber in moderate amounts to maintain good health. Each of these items plays a particular, yet important, role in helping the body to function properly. Carbohydrates and fats provide the body with energy, proteins assist the body with growth and repair, vitamins and minerals contain vital nutrients to further support tissues and organs, and fiber helps ensures the intestines operate smoothly.

A critical step to achieving a balanced diet is to become educated about what the body needs to function well. In the US, the Food Guide Pyramid developed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provides simple guidelines to ensure a well-balanced diet is regularly followed. Based on current scientific evidence linking diet and exercise with good health, the pyramid is illustrated using multi-colored vertical stripes, with each stripe representing one of five food groups, in addition to a group known as "fats and oils."

Carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and fiber can readily be consumed in the proper amounts by following the guidelines provided by the FDA Food Pyramid. Both the pyramid and the medical community urge individuals to eat at least three meals a day, and to avoid skipping breakfast as this meal helps get the body off to a good start each day. It is also considered wise to limit the amount of foods containing high amounts of cholesterol, added sugars, salt, and alcohol, as these do not provide the body with any particular necessary nutrition. In fact, when consumed in large amounts, foods containing these items can cause or exacerbate poor health conditions.

A well-balanced diet as evidenced by the food pyramid encourages people to eat a variety of foods in the correct proportions. Followers are encouraged to plan meals around the foods with the thickest wedges of the pyramid, including whole grains and vegetables, and eat less of the foods with thinner portions, such as oils and fats. If weight loss is a goal, the minimum number of recommended daily servings should be consumed. If weight gain is the goal, the maximum should be eaten.

Doctors and most governmental agencies urge the adoption of a daily exercise regimen to complement and enhance a balanced diet. The amount of recommended exercise is dependent on age and weight goals. If weight loss is necessary, then more exercise is recommended, while, if weight maintenance is the goal, less exercise is required.

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Discussion Comments
By anon221990 — On Oct 14, 2011

As we know, diet is very important for a sound life and the balanced meal is very necessary for dieting.

A balanced meal contains a variety of foods such as vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates, minerals, fiber etc which giving you a number of different nutrients and thus sound health and a sound body.

By GreenWeaver — On Jul 21, 2010

Latte31- I agree with you. I also want to say that if you follow a balanced diet chances are you won’t need to take multivitamins because your body will absorb the nutrients from the foods you eat.

By latte31 — On Jul 16, 2010

Great article- A good rule of thumb for eating a balanced diet is picking fruits and vegetable at every meal along with a whole grain and a lean protein.

For example, a balanced breakfast might include scrambled eggs with spinach, whole grain toast with a side of strawberries. Remember the brighter the fruit and vegetable the healthier it is for you.

Also selecting snacks like almonds with yogurt also makes a nice balanced snack. The yogurt has calcium, and the almonds are rich in lean proteins and fiber.

Mixing lean proteins with meals and snacks also slows the digestion and keeps you feeling fuller longer.

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