I want to talk about a balanced diet and what it really looks like. There are so many different ways of keeping track and so many different systems, and I’ll let you into probably the best kept secret of the diet industry.
They all work.
Really. They all work. But there’s another secret that you might not have worked out, and that is that you have to actually follow them to the letter every day for the rest of your life in order for that to happen. And of course, some of them are not designed for you to do that (like 800 calorie a day meal replacement diets for instance), and for some it could actually be dangerous (long term high protein diets have been found to speed up kidney damage in people who are susceptible, while high fat diets have been found not to be suitable for older people). And that’s before you factor in any health issues you might have which might impact how and what you need to eat to remain healthy.
There has been a lot of research into different diets, their effectiveness, and their safety, as you can imagine. What’s interesting with the high protein, low fat diets is that no research has been done for longer than 6 months, but screening for chronic kidney disease (CKD) is recommended for anyone thinking of following this way of eating before you start. As someone who was unaware I had CKD until I was 40, I would call this a sensible precaution. I would also say that any diet that requires blood tests before you start is probably best avoided.
Anyway (she said, climbing off her soap box), a balanced diet is one that gives you a good combination of all the different macro- and micro-nutrients. You’ll hear those terms a lot. Simply put, macros are protein, carbohydrates, and fats, while micro-nutrients are all your vitamins and minerals.
The point is this. Your body is designed to work best when it gets all the nutrients it needs. Cutting out a food group, severely restricting your calorie intake, putting calories before content, are all going to end up with you missing out on something your body needs. So today, we’re focussing on how to make sure you have a healthy, balanced diet, but before we start, what diets have you followed in the past? And how did you get on?