You hear it on the TV, from your personal trainer, your health care provider and maybe even from your mother, “to be healthy, you need a balanced diet.” It’s not just a matra said to make you feel inadequate, it’s true. Your body needs not only a balance of healthy fat, protein and carbohydrates, it also needs all the nutrients, phyto or macronutrient that are contained in a variety of foods. While tomatoes are good for you, if you ate only tomatoes, you’d eventually get sick. That’s because you would be deficit of many of the important nutrients that help build your body and keep it functioning at its best.
A colorful platter is the start.
While it sounds simplistic, a message that was drummed into our heads in the mandatory home economics class every middle schooler had to take was that a rainbow plate kept you healthy. By a rainbow plate, it doesn’t mean a bowl of M&Ms or Skittles, like some of my then classmates suggested but foods with a variety of colors. Vegetables of different colors have different pigments from carotenoids, flavonoids and chlorophyll. The carotenoids provide the yellow and orange veggies with color. The flavonoids make them red, white and blue. I guess they’re patriotic pigments. The chlorophyll make veggies green. Each of these colorful pigments provide extra benefits for the body. Of course, add a protein source, which is often cream colored or brown and a fat source, which can range from yellow to the pale cream green of avocados and you have a rainbow of colors that’s a healthy meal.
Your body needs protein, fat and carbohydrates.
People often freak out when they hear the word fat, but your body needs it. Healthy fat helps your body in a number of ways. It’s actually heart healthy and vital for the absorption of vitamins A, D, E, and K, plus has many other functions. Foods like nuts and avocados provide healthy fat. Trans fats are the unhealthy fats. Carbohydrates provide the body with energy, but like fats, some carbs are better than others are. Sugar is a carbohydrate that can be eliminated from most people’s diets. Protein is important to building muscle tissue and every cell in the body.
Don’t forget vitamins and minerals.
The healthy platter that’s colorful, not only provides a wide variety of phytonutrients, it provides a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, too. Fruits and vegetables of different colors offer different types of vitamins. The carotenoids in yellow and orange vegetables converts to vitamin A in the body, as an example. Vitamins and minerals are necessary for almost every function of the body. They boost your immune system, help build bones, repair cells and aid in wound healing.
- What you drink make a difference too. If you’re drinking a soft drink, diet or not, with your meal, you’re missing out on the benefits of water, plus many new studies show that carbonated soft drinks may be unhealthy.
- Eating a healthy well balanced diet can also help you lose weight.
- Whole foods, rather than highly processed foods, should be the core of your healthy diet. Processed foods often contain unhealthy additives.
- Read labels when shopping for food if you’re not buying whole foods. Foods with high fructose corn syrup, sugar, dextrose or other synonyms for sugar aren’t nearly as healthy.