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Healthy Balanced Diet

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  What is a healthy balanced diet?

Healthy diets follow the food guide "pyramid," which recommends 6-11 servings of complex carbohydrates, 2-3 servings each of fruits and vegetables,1-2 servings each of dairy products and proteins, and sparing use of added fats and sugars. In addition, you should eat at least six servings of fruit and vegetables per day.

About 60-65% of all your calories should come from carbohydrates, mostly complex carbohydrates like wholegrain bread, rice, pasta, cereal, grain products, fruit, vegetables and beans. About 20% should come from fat.

Sugar & Fats Group - Eat sparingly
Butter, margarine, oils, candy, high-fat salad dressings, and soft drinks offer little or no protein, vitamins, or minerals. They should only be eaten in very small quantities.

Meat, Poultry, Fish, Eggs, & Nuts Group - Eat 1-2 daily servings
Meat should be lean, skinless, broiled, roasted, or simmered instead of breaded and fried. Eggs should ideally be free-range. Nuts should be unsalted.
Best meat is fish, next best turkey/chicken, next best very-lean beef or pork.

What counts as a serving?
- 2-3 ounces of cooked lean meat, poultry, or fish (3 ounces = size of a deck of cards) 
- NB. 1 egg counts as 1 ounce of lean meat.
- NB. 2 tablespoons of peanut butter or cup of nuts counts as 1 ounce of meat.

Dairy Products Group - Eat 1-2 daily servings
All dairy products (except butter) should be eaten in moderation. They are good sources of calcium and some vitamins. They are a mixture of protein, carbohydrate and fat.

Ideally, eat fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese and ice-cream.

What counts as a serving?
- 1 cup of milk or yogurt 
- 1 ounces of natural cheese 
- 2 ounces of processed cheese (1 ounce is about the size of your thumb)

Fruit Group - Eat 3-4 daily servings
Fruits are an important part of your daily diet. They are good sources of vitamins, and many are also full of fiber.

Eat all kinds of fruit - fresh, canned, or frozen.

What counts as a serving?
- 1 medium apple, banana, or orange 
- cup of chopped, cooked, or canned fruit 
- cup of fruit juice

Vegetables and Salad Group - Eat 3-5 daily servings
Like fruit, vegetables are an important part of your daily diet. They are good sources of carbohydrates and vitamins. Many are also full of fiber.

Eat all kinds of vegetables: fresh, canned, frozen, boiled, steamed, or baked.

What counts as a serving?
- 1 cup of raw leafy vegetables 
- cup of other vegetables-cooked or chopped raw 
- cup of vegetable juice

Grains and Cereals Group - Eat 6+ daily servings
The majority of your daily diet should feature grains. This includes cereals, rice, pasta, and other foods made from flour and other grains. These are complex carbohydrates, otherwise known as starches. Foods made from whole grains are high in fiber. Refined or processed grains have much less fiber.

Breads: whole-grain, whole-wheat, cracked wheat, multigrain, or oatmeal.
Go easy on high-fat spreads like butter.
Cereals: whole-grain varieties recommended.
Rice and pasta: brown rice, whole-wheat or enriched pasta.
Use tomato sauces: They are lower in calories than cream sauces.

What counts as a serving?
- 1 slice of bread 
- 1 ounce of ready-to-eat cereal 
- cup of cooked cereal, rice, or pasta

Table 1. Food Groups in a healthy diet 

Food Group Foods Servings/day What constitutes a serving?
Grains and Cereals Cereals, rice, pasta, and other foods made from flour and other grains. Whole-wheat/ wholegrain varieties are ALWAYS best. 6+ servings 1 slice of bread.
1 ounce of ready-to-eat cereal.
cup cooked cereal, rice, pasta.
Vegetables and Salad Any fresh, canned, frozen, boiled, steamed, or baked vegetables. 3-5 servings 1 cup of raw leafy vegetables.
cup of other vegetables-cooked or chopped raw.
cup of vegetable juice.
Fruit Fresh, frozen or canned (juice) 3-4 servings 1 medium apple, banana, orange.
cup of chopped, cooked, or canned fruit.
cup of fruit juice.
Meat, Poultry, Fish, Eggs, & Nuts Any lean, skinless, broiled, roasted meat, or simmered instead of breaded and fried.
Eggs should be free-range.
Nuts should be unsalted.
1-2 servings 2-3 ounces of cooked lean meat, poultry, or fish.
NB. 1 egg = 1 ounce of lean meat.
NB. 2 tablespoons peanut butter
or cup of nuts = 1 ounce meat.
Dairy Foods Lower fat dairy products (esp. low fat cheese) are best. They have all the nutrition but less fat. 1-2 servings 1 cup of milk or yogurt.
1 ounces of natural cheese.
2 ounces of processed cheese
(1 ounce is about thumb-size) 
Sugar & Fats Butter, margarine, oils, candy, high-fat salad dressings, and soft drinks. Very small amounts Use very light covering of  light margarine/spread on bread.
Use a fat-spray when cooking.
Use only fat-free dressings.

 

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The material on this site is provided for general educational and general informational purposes only. It is not intended to be, and should not be considered to be, any form of substitute for medical counseling. Always consult your own doctor or health care provider about the suitability of any opinions or recommendations with respect to your own symptoms or medical conditions. If you are currently on a medically prescribed diet or have any specific medical conditions, food allergies or intolerances which require you to be on one, you must consult your doctor before following any advice on this site. If you have any doubts whatsoever, then for the sake of your health please consult your doctor.