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Sample diet chart to eat a balanced diet

Do not forget to track your calories. Include healthy carbohydrates and adequate amount of protein in your diet.

Want to stay healthy and fit? Eating a balanced diet is the the trick.

A balanced diet includes all the food groups in the right amount and proportion in order to achieve good health, free from diseases and deficiencies. There are six main food groups which should be included daily, these include: carbohydrates, protein, fat, dairy, fruits and vegetables, and water. These different food groups contain different vitamins and minerals which are important for our body. Let s have a look at these food groups and why you need them in your diet.

Carbohydrates: They are broken down by our digestive system to sugars or glucose which acts as the main fuel for our brain and whole body. Carbs should be a part of three major meals -- breakfast, lunch and dinner and 80% of carbohydrate should be in the complex form (healthy). There is more emphasis on intake of complex carbohydrate as they provide energy for longer periods and provide satiety too. They also contain vitamins, minerals and fibre which are beneficial for our health. 50-55% of your total calories should come from carbohydrates.

Foods: Wholegrain cereals such as oats, bulgur wheat, barley, quinoa, rice, sorghum, bajra, sago, wheat flour, semolina, rice flakes, puffed rice, bread, pasta noodles, etc., root vegetables such as potato, sweet potato, yam, sugar and sugary products, honey and jaggery.

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Protein: They are broken down by our digestive system to amino acids which are building blocks of our body. They are required for building muscles, for normal growth of body, for quick healing of wounds and injuries. 15-20% of total calories should come from protein daily. It mostly becomes difficult for vegetarians to achieve the required amount of protein daily because vegetarian sources of protein such as dals and pulses do not contain all amino acids. Therefore, they should always be combined with cereals in order to achieve complete protein.

Foods: Egg, meat, fish, poultry, dals, pulses, legumes, beans, nuts, soy and its products.

Fat: Mostly people consider this food group as bad or unhealthy but it is an important food group which should not be avoided but should be used in moderation. Fat is important for absorption of fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K). It also forms a layer under our skin to regulate the body temperature and cushions the organs (protect the organs). 25-30% of total calories should come from good quality fat.

Foods: butter such as peanut butter or almond butter, oil such as rice bran oil, olive oil, groundnut oil, etc. and ghee (should be used in moderation).

Dairy: It is the main source of calcium required for growth and strength of bones and teeth. Requirements are higher in teenagers as they are still growing. Also requirement increases in women after menopause. Decreased intake of this food group may lead to osteoporosis and easy fractures. At least two servings should be included daily.

Foods: Milk, curd, paneer, cheese, buttermilk and lassi.

Fruits and vegetables: They contain fibre, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals. Always include different variety of fruits and vegetables to obtain different vitamins and minerals. Include five servings of vegetables and two servings of fruits daily. They can be included in different forms such as salad, soups, vegetable juice, whole fruits, smoothies, subzi, etc.

Water: It is the most important group which is always neglected. 60-70% of our body is made up of water and it is important to stay hydrated always. Dehydration leads to headache, bad breath, fatigue, tiredness. Good hydration will keep you fresh and energetic. There is no restriction on water intake except some medical conditions (kidney disorder, cardiac disorder, etc.). One should drink at least two litres of water (requirement changes with climate and physical activity).

Sample diet chart of a balanced meal

Breakfast (heaviest meal of the day): 1 cup milk/tea/coffee/green tea + 1 bowl poha with sprouts and vegetables or 1 omelette sandwich or 1 bowl oats with milk.

Mid-morning: 1 fruit

Lunch: 1 bowl salad (with flaxseeds or sunflower seeds)/soup/stir-fry/mixed subzi + 1 bowl dal/pulse/paneer subzi/chicken curry/fish curry/egg curry + 2 chapatti/1 bowl rice + 1 bowl curd/1 glass lassi (without sugar)

Tea time: 1 cup tea + 6 almonds

Evening: A handful chana/1 khakra + 1 fruit

Dinner: 1 bowl salad (with flaxseeds or sunflower seeds) /soup/stir-fry/mix subzi + 1 bowl dal/pulse/paneer subzi/chicken curry/fish curry/egg curry + 2 chapatti/1 bowl dalia/1 bowl barley with herbs + 1 bowl raita/1 glass buttermilk

Bedtime: 1 cup milk (if hungry)

Image source: Getty Images

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