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What Is a Balanced Diet?

April 15, 2011 Print This ArticleShare

Author: Michael Greeves

Everyone has heard of a balanced diet, but few people have really examined what that means. A balanced diet is one that gives you foods and beverages with all the nutrients you need, whether you need them for organs, body cells or tissues; all without getting too much of any one nutrient. To balance your diet, you need to take into account your needs and how your diet can supply them.

General Considerations

Find out how many calories you need to take in during one day. This amount will vary based on many factors, especially your activity level. Most diet and workout programs will help you find out what you need. If you are unsure, speak to a nutritionist or doctor to get a better idea.

Split your total food allowance into 3 to 6 meals. Break down the meals into healthy sized portions so that you are not eating too much at any one time. Eat from all the different food groups at each meal. Make sure you do not skip breakfast; in fact many nutritionists and personal trainers suggest making it the biggest meal of the day.

Food Groups

All the food groups are represented in a balanced diet every day. Protein, fruits and vegetables, dairy, carbohydrates, and even fats should all be included your diet every day. The protein group includes meats, beans and nuts; make sure your choices are lean and low-fat. In the fruits and vegetables group, be sure to eat at least 2 cups of fruit and 2 and 1/2 cups of vegetables each day.

Dairy should be a part of your diet and nutrition, at about 3 servings of milk or milk products per day. The amount of carbohydrates you need will depend more than any other nutrient on your caloric needs. Lean towards whole grains whenever possible. Fats should be kept to 35% or less of your total caloric intake per day. Make sure they are good fats, like olive oil or from fish such as salmon.


Do not forget that snacks figure into the total calorie count for the day. The good news is that they also count as portions of food groups, so if you eat healthful snacks you will get in your nutrients more easily.

Things to Avoid

Avoid trans-fatty acids such as those found in fried foods and solid fats. Stay away from refined sugar and flours. Eat no more than 2300mg of sodium per day.


Exercise may not seem like a part of a balanced diet, but without a steady exercise routine, it would be nearly impossible to figure out your caloric needs. Besides that, exercise balances the amount of foods you eat with the needs of your body. Get enough exercise and a balanced diet will be easier to keep.

When you first start eating a balanced diet, it may be difficult to keep everything in perspective. However, eventually it will be easier and proper diet and nutrition will become second nature to you.

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