Some foods are better for you than others. A lot of food is tasty but eating too much of it probably won’t make you feel very good. Think about your favourite kind of chocolate. One or two pieces are lovely, but the whole bar might leave you feeling a bit sick. Different foods have different nutrients, which make a particular food what it is. Some foods have more nutrients than others. You might know these as ‘healthy’ food, like vegetables and fruit. Other foods, like cakes, crisps, and chocolate don’t have a lot of nutrients at all but are really enjoyable to eat.
A balanced diet means getting a lot of different foods into your diet. This could look like making sure you have vegetables with your main meal but allowing yourself to have a small treat afterwards. Protein, which is found in meat products, beans, soy and eggs, is also important in a balanced diet. So are carbohydrates, found in food like bread, pasta, rice and potatoes.
Why is it important to eat a balanced diet? Let’s find out.
Keeps You Healthy
Since different foods have different nutrients, a balanced diet that includes a lot of different types of food will make sure that you are getting all the nutrients that your body needs. This includes the vitamins and minerals that are found in some foods.
By making sure that your body is getting all these nutrients, you will feel much healthier in yourself. You will have a stronger immune system, which means that your body is better able to fight off bugs or colds, and you won’t get poorly as often. Even more importantly, over time, a balanced diet will help you to stay healthier throughout your life and keep you safe from more serious health conditions like cancer and heart disease.
Better Mental Health
Eating a balanced diet doesn’t just help with your physical health. You will also feel better mentally when you are getting the right mix of nutrients from your food. When you eat a balanced diet, you are less likely to feel depressed, anxious and stressed. You’ll have a clearer mind, a better mood, and more motivation.
Although there is no need for you to be super-skinny, having a lot of excess weight can put a lot of strain on your health. Eating a balanced diet will help you stay at a weight that is healthy for you. All bodies are different, so a healthy weight on one person might look very different to a healthy weight on another person.
It doesn’t mean that you have to have a flat stomach or a thigh gap – in fact, this can be unhealthy for some people! A balanced diet isn’t ‘going on a diet’ – instead, it’s a way to keep yourself healthy with your food, which will also help you stay at a healthy weight.
Better Hair and Skin
All the fancy skin and hair care products in the world can’t have the same results as a balanced diet. When your body is getting the right nutrients from the food that you eat every day, your hair and skin is getting what it needs from the inside. When you are eating well, and getting a range of nutrients from your meals, your hair and skin will look and feel healthier, smoother, shinier, and stronger.
Good for Growth
For young people, eating a balanced diet is also important for growth. Right now, you are probably having a lot of growth spurts – this is completely normal, and most people don’t stop growing completely until they are in their early twenties. If you are getting the right nutrients from your diet, then this will help with healthy growth and making sure that your body is growing at the right pace.
A balanced diet will help you feel more energetic. When your body is getting all the nutrients that it needs from food, you will find that you are getting tired less often and may even be able to sleep better. This is because your body is not lacking in any important nutrients for energy. You might find that it is easier for you to exercise, play sports, or do physical types of work like gardening or cleaning when you are eating a more balanced diet every day.
Better Brain Health
Eating a balanced diet could help you do better in school! Some scientists have found that when you eat a balanced diet, this can actually make your brain healthier.
Some foods are better for your brain than others, so if you have exams coming up, or just want to do better with studying, then why not try eating more of them and see what happens?
The nutrients that your brain needs are vitamins B, C, and E which you can find in lots of fruits and vegetables, polyphenols, also found in fruits and vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids, which you can get from oily fish like salmon.
What Does a Balanced Diet Look Like?
To eat a balanced diet, you should eat food from different good groups. These include:
- At least five portions of vegetables or fruit each day
- Some starchy foods like potatoes, pasta, rice or bread
- Dairy foods like milk, cheese and butter or dairy alternatives like soya or oat milk
- Some protein from meat products, beans, eggs, fish or tofu
- Healthy fats in small amounts from unsaturated spreads or oils like olive oil
- Drinking plenty of water or sugar-free juice
The food you eat can have a big effect on everything in your life from your health to your mood, energy levels and how well you focus in school or college. A balanced diet means eating a lot of different foods and focusing on eating more foods that have a lot of nutrients, to make sure that your body is getting everything that it needs to be healthy.
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