Get me chicken lap, with boneless cow leg and the cow tongue with some assorted cow meats and another skinful soft goat meat. You mean everything is just 3,500.00k? Okay, add the fresh fish and one wrap of swallows to make it 5000 naira, plus one cold pep bottle of juice. That’s ok for a good lunch after a good work. But a sumptuous meal, regardless of the price cover, is not the same as healthily balanced meal.

A healthy diet is the one that provide the required nutrients in balanced proportions to the body. Eating a healthy, balanced diet is a prerequisite to good health. We need to eat a wide variety of foods in the right proportions to maintain a healthy body weight. A balanced diet is one that fulfills all of a person’s nutritional needs.

Fried food tastes great such that people don’t seem to care about the fat.  But doctors, nutritionists and dieticians say too much fat-based food portends grave danger to health. Yet, like the proverbial dog that will not hear hunters’ whistle, we keep relishing and munching fatty foods like no other foods. But our people say ‘it is only a stupid cow that rejoices at the prospect of being taken to a beautiful abattoir’. Yes, fatty foods are colorful, attractive, smell great, taste great, yet, they come with great pains- overweight, obesity, high cholesterol, stroke, heart ailments, diabetes, cancer etc and when the body is hit with any of these dangers, all the fatty attractions will turn sour.

We need food to give nutrients to our body. We need food to get the required energy, in form of calories, for our body systems to function, yet when the energy producing calories are more than what the body requires, the excess energy is converted to fat by the body mechanism. And too much fat is a harbinger of very poor health.

Our bodies need energy to keep organs function normally as well as keeping us alive. When we eat and drink, we put energy into our bodies. Our bodies use up that energy through everyday movement, which includes everything from breathing to running. To maintain a stable weight, the energy we put into our bodies needs to be equal to the energy we use through normal bodily functions and physical activity, otherwise health dangers loom large.

Dieticians and nutritionists say moderation in calories intake is it. According to them, eating too few calories for a prolonged period of time causes a person to become underweight leading to muscle atrophy, weakened immunity, and eventually, organ failure. And conversely, eating too many calories causes a person to become overweight then obese, increasing their chances of heart disease, type II diabetes, cancer, high cholesterol in the blood, stroke and other life-threatening ailments.

So, how do we achieve moderation in calories intake? Experts say we must eat healthy diet, a diet that can balance our calories-in with our calories-out. A balanced diet that supplies the nutrients the body needs to work effectively. Without balanced nutrition, our body is more prone to disease, infection, fatigue, and low performance. While body nutrients come from carbohydrates, proteins, fat, minerals, vitamins and water; fat, proteinis and carbon hydrates provide most of the calories. Each gram of carbohydrate and protein yield 4 calories/gram. Each gram of fat yields 9 calories.

Consumption of too much fat-based food portends grave danger to health. Not only do fat foods produce double the calories than carbohydrates and protein, there’s also a natural craving for fat-based foods, that increases the calories intake. Yet, excess energy from carbohydrates, proteins and fat are to be converted and stored as fat in the body, thereby causing overweight, obesity and affiliated ailments.

Healthy Balanced Diet

Experts and Eatwell Guide say to have a healthy, balanced diet, people should:

  • eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day.
  • base meals on higher fibre starchy foods like potatoes, bread, rice or pasta
  • have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks)
  • eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other protein
  • choose unsaturated oils and spreads, and eat them in small amounts
  • drink plenty of fluids (at least 6 to 8 glasses a day)
  • Have less of foods and drinks high in fat,salt,and,sugar.
  • Eat less of processed foods

Fruit & Vegetable mix

Fruit and vegetables, according to experts, are a good source of vitamins and minerals and fibre, and should make up just over a third of the food we eat each day.

It’s recommended that we eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. They can be fresh, frozen, canned, dried or juiced. It’s doable and less expensive (see below how to achieve 5 portions)

-Just 1 apple, banana, pear or similar-sized fruit is 1 portion each.

-A slice of pineapple or melon is also 1 portion, and 3 heaped tablespoons of vegetables is another portion.

-Adding a tablespoon of dried fruit, to your morning cereal is an easy way to get 1 portion.

-You could also swap your mid-morning biscuit for a banana, and add a side salad to your lunch. That’s another portion.

-In the evening, have a portion of vegetables with dinner and fresh fruit with plain, lower fat yoghurt for dessert to reach your 5 A Day.

Vegetable and fruits lower risk of heart diseases, stroke and cancers

The Starchy Energy

Starch is a complex carbohydrate found in foods like bread, rice, pasta, potatoes and breakfast cereals, our swallows etc.

Starchy foods fill us up and provide energy. They are the main part of every meal and even eaten as snacks too. (An average woman needs to consume about 300g of carbohydrate per day and a man needs about 400-450g per day). Approximately one third of a person’s total food intake should come from starchy foods.

These types of foods provide the body with its main source of energy. When they are digested, they are broken down into glucose which is the body’s main fuel.

Starch is a form of carbohydrate, which is then broken down by the body into simple sugars that are absorbed by the bloodstream and provide energy for all the functions in the body, eg, the brain, muscles and nervous system. Starchy foods also contain fibre, B vitamins, calcium and iron.

Dieticians say, to get the most out of your intake of starchy foods, we should choose wholegrain versions of carbohydrates.

Source of starchy foods

– Breakfast:  wholegrain cereals, porridge or oats, seeded bread

– Lunch: rice or pasta dish, with less sauce, baked potato with the skin on, swallows etc

-Dinner: Same as lunch

Starchy foods, experts say, should make up just over a third of everything we eat. Our meals, they say, should be based on wholegrain or whole meal varieties of starchy foods, such as brown rice, whole wheat pasta, and brown, whole meal or higher fiber white bread. These carbs contain more fiber, and usually more vitamins and minerals, than white varieties.

– Eating potatoes with the skins on has more nutritional value. It’s a great source of fiber and vitamins.

Milk and Dairy foods Proteins

Milk and dairy foods such as cheese and yoghurt, according to nutritionist, are good sources of protein. They also contain calcium, which helps keep bones healthy. Experts say we must go for lower fat and lower sugar products where possible.

Beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat proteins

-These foods are all good sources of protein, which is essential for the body to grow and repair itself.

-They’re also good sources of a range of vitamins and minerals.

-Meat is a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals, including iron, zinc and B vitamins. It’s also one of the main sources of vitamin B12.

-Choose lean cuts of meat and skinless poultry whenever possible to cut down on fat. Always cook meat thoroughly.

-Try to eat less red and processed meat like bacon, ham and sausages.

-Eggs and fish are also good sources of protein, and contain many vitamins and minerals. Oily fish is particularly rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

-Aim to eat at least 2 portions of fish a week, including 1 portion of oily fish.

-You can choose from fresh, frozen or canned, but remember that canned and smoked fish can often be high in salt.

-Pulses, including beans, peas and lentils, are naturally very low in fat and high in fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals.

-Nuts are high in fibre, and unsalted nuts make a good snack. But they do still contain high levels of fat, so eat them in moderation.

Fat & Oils Foods

There’s always a craving for these foods, but they pose the healthiest concerns

-It’s important to get most of our fat from unsaturated oils and spreads. This can help lower cholesterol

-All types of fat are high in energy and should be eaten in small amounts.

-Too much saturated fat can increase the amount of cholesterol in the blood, which increases our risk of developing heart disease. Eat less saturated/ unsaturated fats

Regular comsumprion of foods and drinks high in sugar increases your risk of obesity and tooth decay.

-Eating too much salt can raise your blood pressure, which increases your risk of getting heart disease or having a stroke.

Health benefits of a balanced diet

  • Healthy eating increases energy, improves the way your body functions, strengthens your immune system and prevents weight gain.
  • Meets nutritional need. A varied, balanced diet provides the nutrients we need to avoid nutritional deficiencies.
  • Prevent and treat certain diseases. Healthful eating can prevent the risk of developing certain diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease. It is also helpful in treating diabetes and high blood pressure.
  • Following a special diet can reduce symptoms, and may help you better manage an illness or condition.
  • Feel energetic and manage your weight. A healthy diet will assist you to feel higher, provide you with more energy, and help you fight stress.
  • Food is the mainstay of many social and cultural events. Apart from nutrition properties, it helps facilitate connections between individuals.

 Guidelines for healthy Eating

  • The most important rule of healthy eating is not skipping any meal. Skipping meals lowers your metabolic rate. Normal eating includes 3 major meals and 2 snacks between meals.
  • Also, never skip breakfast. It is the foremost vital meal of the day.
  • Learn simple ways to prepare food. Healthy eating doesn’t have to mean complicated or expensive eating. Keep meal preparation easy, eat more raw foods such as salads, fruits and vegetable juices, and focus on the pleasure of eating healthy food rather than the calories.
  • It is important to stop when you feel full. This will help you maintain your weight to an extent. This also will help you remain alert and feeling your best.
  • Drink lots of water. Keep a bottle of water near you while working, watching TV, etc.
  • Variety of foods should be used in the menu. No single food has all the nutrients.
  • Eat five portions of fruit and vegetables every day.
  • Keep a supply of healthy snacks to hand. This will stop you from eating an unhealthy snack when hungry.
  • Remove all visible fat from food before you cook it – take the skin off chicken and trim the white fat off any meat.
  • Limit stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol and refined sugar.
  • Only eat things you like the taste of – find what works for you and don’t force yourself to eat things just because they’re good for you.
  • “It’s better to eat food that came from the plant than eat food made in a plant”-(Michael Pollan, Author & Journalist). Eat less of processed foods.

Balanced diets are actually not expensive, not complex, not complicated and not cumbersome. They are as excitingly simple as the foregoing narrations. Now you know what to do to eat healthily. Keep a day with us next week for the “Donts” of healthy eating in the part 2 of Eat Healthy; Live Healthy.

Kindly post your views comments and opinions in the comments box below


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  1. Just what I need at the moment
    How do you get rid of pot belly?
    What combination of diets can achieve this?
    I also noticed that varieties of healthy foods are not common here

  2. Health and safety are signs of good living
    To be healthy is a sign of holiness in God Almighty.
    To live a good life is caring for your health and avoid the avoidables expecially in ones middle Age and above

  3. I’m impressed, I have to admit. Rarely do I encounter a blog that’s
    both educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you’ve hit the nail on the head.
    The issue is an issue that too few folks are speaking intelligently about.
    I am very happy that I stumbled across this during my hunt for something
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