What is a balanced diet?
A balanced diet gives your body the nutrients it needs to function correctly. To get the nutrition you need, most of your daily calories should come from:
- fresh fruits
- fresh vegetables
- whole grains
- lean proteins
The number of calories in a food refers to the amount of energy stored in that food. Your body uses calories from food for walking, thinking, breathing, and other important functions.
The average person needs about 2,000 calories every day to maintain their weight, but the amount will depend on their age, sex, and physical activity level.
Males tend to need more calories than females, and people who exercise need more calories than people who don’t.
Current guidelines Trusted Source list the following calorie intakes for males and females of different ages:
|Sedentary children: 2–8 years||1,000–1,400|
|Active children: 2–8 years||1,000–2,000|
|Females: 9–13 years||1,400–2,200|
|Males: 9–13 years||1,600–2,600|
|Active females: 14–30 years||2,400|
|Sedentary females: 14–30 years||1,800–2,000|
|Active males: 14–30 years||2,800–3,200|
|Sedentary males: 14–30 years||2,000–2,600|
|Active people: 30 years and over||2,000–3,000|
|Sedentary people: 30 years and over||1,600–2,400|
The source of your daily calories are also important. Foods that provide mainly calories and very little nutrition are known as “empty calories.”
Examples of foods that provide empty calories include:
- cakes, cookies, and donuts
- processed meats
- energy drinks and sodas
- fruit drinks with added sugar
- ice cream
- chips and fries
However, it’s not only the type of food but the ingredients that make it nutritious.
A homemade pizza with a wholemeal base and plenty of fresh veggies on top may be a healthy choice. In contrast, premade pizzas and other highly processed foods often contain empty calories.
To maintain good health, limit your consumption of empty calories and instead try to get your calories from foods that are rich in other nutrients.
Why a balanced diet is important
A balanced diet supplies the nutrients your body needs to work effectively. Without balanced nutrition, your body is more prone to disease, infection, fatigue, and low performance.
Children who don’t get enough healthy foods may face growth and developmental problems, poor academic performance, and frequent infections.
They can also develop unhealthy eating habits that may persist into adulthood.
Without exercise, they’ll also have a higher risk of obesity and various diseases that make up metabolic syndrome, such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.
According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, 4 of the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States are directly linked to diet.
- heart disease
- type 2 diabetes
Learn more about healthy meal plans for kids.
Your body needs nutrients to stay healthy, and food supplies essential nutrients that stop us from getting sick.
to be continued…