The first step to becoming a healthier person than the one you were before is always complicated.
You have to do a thorough research before deciding where to start, but with all the information you can find on the internet it is hard to understand what information is right and what information is wrong. The consequence is that the main reaction in someone who is just getting started is usually to feel lost. Knowing we want to start eating healthy is one thing, knowing what healthy actually means is another. The incredibly high amount of diets that surround us can be held responsible for this initial confusion: high-protein, low-carb, fat-free, they all suggest different approaches to losing weight and becoming healthy, but the truth is, the only healthy way to get healthy is following a balanced diet. But what is a part of this so called balanced diet?
One of the main facts that should never be put in question is that fruits and vegetables are good for you but yet there are still some diets that cut out fruits because of their high level in sugars. Our high daily intake of sugars is however not caused by the natural ones that can be found in fruits and we should therefore still try to get our 5-a-day, limiting the amount of each fruit but varying the kind, which results in different effects on our body: apples are a great appetite abolisher, berries help us prevent cravings while bananas are a great post-workout snack, only to name a few.
…our body’s favourite source of fuel for energy…
Another main nutrient that tends to be forgotten by quite a few of this decade’s nutritionists is carbohydrates: the problem with abolishing carbs completely from our diet is that they are our body’s favourite source of fuel for energy and they simply cannot be avoided. They are divided in complex and simple carbs, also called good and bad carbs respectively. The first, which are usually in their natural state, or relatively close to it, are digested slowly and keep us fuller for a longer amount of time; the second, which are generally processed, are digested quickly and cause spikes in blood sugars levels. It is therefore better to stick to whole-grain breads, cereals and pasta, high in fibre and nutrients, while avoiding refined breads, white sugar and white pasta and rice.
The same dilemma can be discussed when talking about fat. When going food-shopping we find ourself surrounded by low-fat yoghurts, low-fat milk and even low-fat chocolate biscuits (!) but should we cut fatty foods completely off our diet? The answer is no, unless you are thinking about that 300 calories a slice chocolate cake you have seen while food-shopping a few days ago. The truth is, we need an adequate supply of essentials fats, usually monounsaturated, to be able to burn and release the stored fat in our body. Oily fish such as salmon and nuts, avocado and oils such as olive, walnut and sunflower are therefore essential to a balanced diet and should be the main ingredient of a meal at least three times a week.
The perfect balanced diet…
To complete the first step to start a balanced diet the one thing to add are proteins: best if found in lean meats such as chicken and turkey, it is also present in low-fat dairy products such as eggs, milk and yoghurt. It is however also easy to add protein to daily meals even if one is vegetarian: present in beans of all kind and grains such as chia seeds and quinoa, it should always make up for at least 20% of our meal, breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Here it is then: carbs, protein and good fats, combined with vegetables and fruits. The perfect balanced diet.