What’s the importance of a healthy, balanced meal? There’s a lot to be said for following a healthy lifestyle – more energy, ideal weight, stronger bones and muscles, positive attitude, greater productivity… the list goes on, says Lara De Santana, a dietician from Futurelife.
Whether you are young or old, your body needs energy to walk, talk, jump, think and sleep and this fuel that your body requires comes from the food that you eat. So if you want to lead a healthy lifestyle for that constant feel-good experience, it comes down to two things – the right food and regular exercise.
What does healthy eating mean?
It simply means you should eat moderate amounts of a variety of food and fluids that contain the complete range of nutrients your body needs to function properly including carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals.
A nice guide is that 60% of the energy from your meal should come from carbohydrates, 20% from protein and 20% from fats; but why is this important?
- Why you need carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are your body’s fuel and they give energy to the whole body, including your brain and muscles. Foods that contain carbohydrates include bread, rice, potatoes, pasta, cereal, fruit, milk and yoghurt.
- Why you need proteins: Proteins are the body’s building blocks. They are important for growth, muscle repair and wound healing. Fish, meat, chicken, eggs, dairy and legumes like beans, lentils and soy are excellent sources of protein.
- Why you need fats: Healthy fats are needed for hair growth, skin rejuvenation, hormone production and a healthy immune system. Good sources are nuts, avocados, olives, olive oil, peanut butter and margarine.
- Why you need vitamins and minerals: Vitamins and minerals support your immune system to help keep you healthy. Colourful fruit and vegetables are an especially good source. Aim for five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
Eating healthily now will affect the rest of your life!
Every day you make food choices that influence your body’s health for better or for worse. When these choices are repeated over years, the rewards or consequences become major. Carelessness about food choices from a young age can contribute to many chronic diseases including heart disease, cholesterol, diabetes and some cancers. By making sure your healthy eating starts with every meal in front of you, you can rest assured that you’re doing everything you can to protect as well as promote your family’s well-being.