Balanced diet for perfect weight

A balanced diet not only provides good nutrition, but also helps to maintain optimal weight and/or lose excess weight

Weighing scale with fruitsNot many of us are happy with our body weight. Most of us think we should weigh more or less than we actually do. The primary reason for this is people want to look "acceptable" by society's standards.

We also seem to think our weight is something we'd do well to control. This is right thinking; but, what is not are misconceptions.

You do not have to be obsessed with your weighing scale, because a person's weight is only part of the story. What is more important is the percentage of fat in the body.

For healthy women, fat accounts for as much as 25 per cent of body weight; it is 18 per cent for healthy men.

When fat accumulates it gives rise to lifestyle disorders such as diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, cancer, stroke, depression, sleep disorders, breathing problems and hernia - the list is endless. This only means that we need to understand the importance of lifestyle management - the first big step towards optimal health and wellbeing.

Balance holds the answer

You need to strike a balance - that is, you need to balance your energy input with your energy output. Although this may sound very simple, in reality, thanks to high-tech modern, erratic lifestyle, and unhealthy living conditions, not to speak of stress, fast food, alcohol abuse, pollution and lack of exercise, people are finding it more and more difficult to achieve ideal state of health.

Another important aspect people often forget is that we do not gain weight overnight. It's a gradual process. So, by the same token, you cannot lose weight overnight. You have to follow a slow, gradual weight management programme, to live well and feel well.

A desirable rate of weight loss is ? -1 kg per week, by way of a healthy diet. In addition to right diet and exercise, strength of mind and determination to lose weight also contribute to our effort in managing or losing weight, as the case may be.

Good nutrition for successful weight loss

Many of us know the key principles in diet are variety, balance and moderation. A balanced meal is essential to obtain optimum nutrition. You need to start your day with a nourishing breakfast. The best thing to do is consume more of whole grains, pulses and sprouts.

This isn't as easy as it sounds, because there are as many weight management, or mismanagement, ideas as there are "lose-weight-aids" on the market. All the same, you'd do well if you'd earnestly incorporate the following into your daily diet plan to manage and/or lose weight:

Step 1

  • Take care to skim milk by boiling it, cooling it in the refrigerator for 6-8 hours and removing the creamy layer. Repeat the process to double skim milk
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables should be consumed in good amounts with every meal as they provide essential vitamins, minerals, and fibre. They are also low in calories.
  • Gravy prepared with onion, tomatoes or palak [spinach] are recommended over coconut and groundnut gravy to reduce the fat content in your diet
  • Avoid fried foods; eat fruits as desserts
  • Eat small, frequent meals throughout the day, rather than 2-3 calorie-dense meals
  • Consumption of low-fat non- vegetarian food like egg whites, lean portions of chicken, instead of red meats [mutton, beef, and pork], organ meats [liver, kidney, heart, and brain], egg yolk [high in saturated fats and cholesterol] is recommended.

Step 2

  • Roasting, grilling, baking, steaming, boiling, stewing, poaching or barbeque should be used as cooking methods instead of deep-frying to reduce the oil content
  • Hydrate yourself with 1.5-2 litre/day of water. Avoid colas. Beware - carbonated beverages, aerated drinks and caffeine-rich beverages cause water-loss from your body!
  • Before attending a party, try taking a fruit appetiser, a vegetable salad, or a nutritious snack, or simply a glass of water. This will help reduce your appetite
  • Keep your cutlery down, after each bite.

Step 3

  • Take at least 15-20 minutes to complete your meal; chew your meals through and through
  • Avoid distractions while eating - television, family arguments, reading etc.,
  • Try eating in small plates
  • Stop eating when you begin to feel full, focus on enjoying your meal with your family or friends. Share your meals with them
  • Never go shopping for food on an empty stomach
  • Do not use food as a reward, or stress-buster
  • Stay away from alcohol and smoking.

Regular exercise reduces body fat and increases muscle mass; it also lowers blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and improves your sense of wellbeing.

Managing Well for Good Health

In today's world of mad and intense competition, just following the concept of weight management is not enough. What we all need is better health and lifestyle management.

"Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life." This age-old saying couldn't have been more timely! One more thing. It is just not important to lose weight, for the heck of losing weight. What is more important is the way you lose fat from your body. Not only this. What also adds value to your life is your daily physical activity, your eating habits, your sleep, your lifestyle, yoga and, of course, a positive approach to life.

Make them all a habit, and feel the happy pulsations of wellbeing add a new zing to your life and to those around you.

Points to Ponder

A balanced diet consists of different types of foods through which the need for calories, minerals, vitamins and other nutrients is adequately met and provision made for extra nutrients to withstand short duration of leanness. Eating a well balanced diet on a regular basis and staying at your ideal weight are important in maintaining your emotional and physical wellbeing.

Benefits of a healthy and balanced diet -

  • It provides variety in the diet
  • You consume more grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, which help to increase your energy levels
  • Low fat intake - especially saturated fats
  • Reduce sugar intake
  • Lower salt intake
  • It provides optimum health, vitality and energy to be more active.

- Team CW

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Payal Ahuja
Payal Ahuja is a Mumbai-based dietician and consultant. She conducts workshops on lifestyle management and weight management programmes on TV. Ahuja is also IPC-certified auditor for ISO-9001:2000, and author of the book, Combating Childhood Obesity.

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