What really makes a healthy diet?
There’s an overwhelming amount of fitness and dieting images and adverts thrown at us through social media, television and magazines every day. On the other hand, the abundance of take away options and ready meals in shops makes it way too easy to choose the highly processed meals full of saturated fats, salt and additives. So then, when it comes to cooking healthy or choosing a meal prep delivery, what really makes a healthy diet?
The word ‘diet’ often brings weight-loss to mind but in fact ‘diet’ simply means food and drinks that a person regularly consumes – what you generally eat. We all know that good nutrition is essential for our bodies to function well. A balanced diet helps prevent some diseases, gives you energy to last throughout the day and fuels your brain. But what does it really mean? What should you think about when aiming to stick to a healthy diet? Let’s look at what aspects are important to consider.
Whether you’re trying to lose weight, gain weight or neither of these, a healthy diet primarily means a balanced meal plan which provides your body with all the essential macro and micronutrients for your body to function well. This means every day you should eat:
- Fruits and vegetables – and here the rule of 5-a-day is a great way to start incorporating these into your meals. Try to make sure that throughout the week it is more vegetables than fruits, though, because some fruits contain surprisingly high amounts of sugar. Both fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals and are very healthy.
- Starchy foods and grains – they contain minerals, vitamins and fiber. Try to choose wholegrain (which is the less processed version of grains) as they have higher amounts of these components.
- Proteins – meats and beans are the primary sources of protein in a healthy diet. Other sources include fish, eggs, nuts. Proteins are essential for our muscles maintenance and wound healing, among other functions. Again, it’s best to eat unprocessed foods. Highly processed meat (such as most of store-bought hams, sausages etc.) are full of additives which aren’t good for us. It is also worth noting that red meats may increase the risk of cancer and other diseases, according to some research.
- Fats and oils – even though they often have negative associations in common language, they are essential to be included (in small amounts) in a healthy diet. Which to choose? Vegetable oils are the healthiest option. It is best to avoid as much as possible eating trans fats, used in many processed and premade foods, such as donuts.
An additional aspect to remember is to keep things.. interesting! Your diet should be varied with different types of foods from each of the groups listed. A diet which consists of chicken and rice with broccoli every day will most definitely lack important nutrients and vitamins which can’t all be found in this food. So remember to switch it up, choose different fruits and vegetables to compliment your meals, try to avoid having oatmeal for breakfast every single day.
For more details and a further explanation of what to include in a balanced diet, refer to our blog explaining the Healthy Eating Pyramid.
So what really makes a healthy diet?
How to choose a good meal prep option?
First of all, look at the meal plans and menus: can you identify each of the food groups above in every day’s meals? Will you get your 5-a-day of fruit and vegetables? Are there healthy sources of protein included? Are there wholegrains included? Is the meal plan varied and vibrant?
At Fitasty, we have been fine-tuning our meal plans to make sure our healthy meals are well balanced, packed with nutrients and delicious. You can see what’s on the menu here. The menus change weekly and are adjusted with new exciting recipes and foods as seasons change to make the most out of the fresh ingredients available. If you live in Bristol, you should definitely try it!