Eating a balanced diet gives your body all the nutrients it needs from a wide variety of different foods. If you have a busy life, you might find it difficult to maintain a healthy diet. However, it’s simple for even the busiest person to eat a balanced diet with just some planning.

Planning for a Balanced Die

1 Write a meal plan. Writing out a weekly meal plan can help you make sure you’re consuming a well-balanced diet. Plan meals and snacks to have throughout the day so that you’ll be eating each food group everyday

    • Take an hour or two of your free time and write up your ideas for all meals and snacks.
    • Try tallying up all the food groups for each daily meal plan. Did you include dairy each day? How about enough fruits or vegetables?

2 Go grocery shopping. Stocking your kitchen with healthy foods from each food group will help make preparing balanced meals and maintaining a balanced diet easy. After you write up your meal plan, make time to go grocery shopping to stock up on a variety of your favorite healthy items.

3 Start a food journal. Keeping a food journal can help you maintain a balanced diet in two ways. First, it can help you review your current diet and allow you see what areas your diet is lacking. And second, it’s a great method to keep you on track long-term.

    • Purchase a journal or download a journaling app on your smartphone. Track as many days as you can. Pay attention to the 5 food groups – are you consuming all of them each day?

4 Talk to your doctor or registered dietitian. Speaking to a doctor or registered dietitian can help you tailor your balanced diet to your personal health and medical history. They may be able to provide you with additional guidance or recommendations to improve or maintain your current health.

Preparing Balanced Meals

1 Eat foods from all five food groups. One of the cornerstones to eating a balanced diet is consuming foods from each of the five food groups: protein, vegetables, fruits, dairy and grains. Each food group offers different vital nutrients that your body needs. Aim to consume something from each group everyday

    • Protein is essential to all cells and processes in your body – anything from building and repairing tissues to making enzymes, hormones and other chemicals. Ideally, choose lean protein foods like: poultry, eggs, lean beef, seafood, nuts and beans.

2 Eat healthy fats. Some types of fat are known as “heart-healthy” or omega-3 fats and monounsaturated fats. These have been shown to have some health benefits including: maintaining or improving blood lipid levels or supporting the brain development of infants.

    • It’s recommended to consume a serving of these healthy fats at least 2-3 times weekly.
    • Foods that contain omega-3 fats include: salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, tuna, walnuts and flaxseeds.
    • Monounsaturated fats come from foods like olive oil, avocado, olives and hazelnuts.

3 Eat at least three meals daily. A balanced diet goes beyond just the foods in your meals. You also need to balance the amount of food you consume throughout the day. It’s beneficial to consume regular, frequent meals throughout the day.

    • Eating three or more meals a day or including snacks makes it easier for you to consume all the recommended amounts of essential nutrients you need each day. Skipping meals puts you at risk for not being able to consume what you need.
  1. Drink 64 oz of clear fluids daily.A minimum of eight glasses or 64 oz of clear, sugar-free liquids is essential to a balanced diet. Just because liquids don’t necessarily fall into a food group, doesn’t mean they don’t play and essential part in your diet.
    • Choose liquid like water, iced tea, decaf coffee or no-calorie flavored waters.
    • Purchase a water bottle to help you monitor the volume of liquids you consume throughout the da


Engage in physical activity. Exercise is an important part of a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Although it doesn’t necessarily affect your diet, regular physical activity can help maintain your weight and health when you occasionally indulge in favorite foods.

  1. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio activity each week. Exercises like jogging, biking and swimming are good options.
  2. Aim to participate in strength training at least two times a week.
  3. Lifting weights or going to a Pilates class are good options.

The Benefits of Exercise

Exercise improves both the strength and the efficiency of your cardiovascular system to get the oxygen and nutrients to your muscles.  When your cardiovascular system works better everything seems easier and you have more energy for the fun stuff in life. Staying active keeps muscles strong and joints, tendons and ligaments flexible, allowing you to move more easily and avoid injury. Strong muscles and ligaments reduce your risk of joint and lower back pain by keeping joints in proper alignment. They also improve coordination and balance. The more you exercise the more calories you burn.  In addition, the more muscle you develop, the higher your metabolic rate becomes, so you burn more calories even when you’re not exercising.  The result?  You may lose weight and look better physically which will boost your self-esteem. Exercise increases blood flow and oxygen levels in the brain. It also encourages the release of the brain chemicals (hormones) that are responsible for the production of cells in the hippocampus, the part of the brain that controls memory and learning.  This, in turn, boosts concentration levels and cognitive ability, and helps reduce the risk of cognitive degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Is overwhelming evidence that people who lead active lifestyles are less likely to suffer from illness and more likely to live longer? Exercise reduces LDL cholesterol (the type that clogs your arteries), increases HDL (the good cholesterol) and reduces blood pressure so it lowers the stress on your heart.

Regular exercise helps to control blood glucose levels, which helps to prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.  Additionally exercise helps to prevent obesity, which is a primary factor in the development of type 2 diabetes.Exercise improves your body’s ability to pump the oxygen and nutrients around your body that are required to fuel the cells that fight bacteria and viruses.

Staying active reduces the likelihood of developing some degenerative bone diseases

Weight bearing exercise such as running, walking or weight training lowers your risk of both osteoarthritis and osteoporosis – the adage of “use it or lose it” really does apply to bones.

Being fit may mean that the risks of colon cancer, breast cancer and possibly also lung and endometrial cancers are reduced. Studies by the Seattle Cancer Research Centre have suggested that 35% of all cancer deaths are linked to being overweight and sedentary.

Exercise improves your mood and gives you an improved sense of well-being.

Physical activity stimulates the release of endorphins which make you feel better and more relaxed.  These in turn improve your mood and lower your stress levels. Exercise can help prevent and treat mental illnesses like depression

Physical activity can help you meet people, reduce stress levels, cope with frustration, give you a sense of achievement, and provide some important “me time”, all of which help with depression.

Wayne Probert

Wayne Probert is a senior reporter at Zobuz, covering state and national politics, and he is a grantee with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Before joining Zobuz, he worked as a freelance journalist in Kentucky, having been published by dozens of outlets including NPR, the Center for Media.

Published by
Wayne Probert

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