Eating a balanced diet can be a challenge in a society where processed food is constantly calling out to us. But there are so many benefits to eating well, that it’s worth a little extra time and effort to make it a priority. Here are some of the top reasons you should get serious about making sure your diet is balanced and healthy.
A Balanced Diet Provides Key Nutrients
While processed foods and sugary drinks fill us with empty calories, a diet brimming with fresh fruits and vegetables, beans and seeds, grass-fed meats and dairy, and wild-caught fish, supply the nutrients that are deficient in the Standard American Diet (SAD). Many people are low in omega-3 essential fatty acids, which studies have shown reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. Vegetables, especially dark or brightly-colored varieties, have antioxidants, flavonoids, and carotenoids that reduce inflammation in the body and prevent oxidative stress from toxins. Having the correct nutrients available to the body makes you less susceptible to infection.
A Balanced Diet Provides Necessary Protein
Sugary cereals, chips, candy bars, and many other snack foods are sorely lacking in one vital nutrient: protein. Most people know that including adequate protein in the diet is key to maintaining muscle mass. But protein is also used by the body to repair tissues, make hormones and enzymes, and build bones, cartilage, skin, and blood. Adding protein to a meal helps significantly with satiety, and many high-quality protein sources also contain necessary vitamins and minerals.
A Balanced Diet Maintains Weight
With more than half of Americans overweight, it’s obvious that our unbalanced diet, heavy in refined sugars and processed carbs, is the culprit. Indulging in empty calories leaves us unsatisfied and craving for more of the same, which leads to even more weight gain. But making even small changes towards a healthier way of eating can break the cycle. For instance, digging into a plate full of vegetables at the beginning of a meal will keep you from eating fewer calories overall, since veggies are full of fiber and quickly fill you. Plus, the extra nutrients will keep you from cravings that stem from deficiencies. Studies have shown that patients who lost even 5-10% of their weight, were able to lower their blood pressure and reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes.
A Balanced Diet Improves Mood
Did you know that eating a balanced diet can contribute to an overall feeling of well-being? Studies have found that omega-3 fatty acids and magnesium found in grass-fed meats and wild-caught fish can reduce cortisol levels. On the other hand, when we put foods in our body that have harmful chemicals, our body enters a state of stress. Many people did not realize how much poor eating habits were affecting their mood until they changed. Having a more positive outlook is alone a great reason to pursue a balanced diet.
A Balanced Diet Makes You More Productive
Population Health Management published a 2012 study showing that eating an unhealthy diet puts you at a 66% increased risk of productivity loss. Giving your body an improper fuel source keeps your mind from running at its peak, just like would happen with a car. Also, when you consume a diet that is overloaded with refined carbs and sugars, the addiction keeps you thinking about food instead of on the work that we need to do. Replacing these sugars with quality proteins and healthy fats will keep you full, satisfied, and able to concentrate.
If you’re struggling to eat a balanced diet, the problem may be that you don’t plan properly, which leads you to grab the quickest, easiest food on hand. Try making a meal plan and only shopping on the outer areas of the grocery store. Or else, sign up for a company like Hello Fresh and Emeals, which will make eating a balanced diet a snap.