‘Learning to balance your diet is key for a healthy lifestyle’

Diet reflects the sum of food consumed by a person and thus includes the quality and quantity of food intake. The food we consume should work at two levels - first, it should help to maintain a good immune system and second, it should give adequate nourishment to the body and soul. Both these elements are important to lead a healthy and happy life

‘Learning to balance your diet is key for a healthy lifestyle’

The word ‘diet’ evokes in most minds a sense of undesirable, tasteless food for rapid weight loss. First, we need to break this false perception to understand the science behind what we eat.

Today, in this article we will learn what exactly constitutes a healthy diet and weight loss diet and which of these diets are more suitable to your daily calorie needs.

Healthy diet

  • Typically a healthy diet is a balanced diet which provides adequate calories and nutrition for daily requirements and maintenance of health.
  • To provide adequate nutrition, diet should include adequate amount of essential nutrients like carbs, fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals.
  • It is not easy to measure each of them individually and thus broad guidelines are recommended to ease consumption.

Weight loss diet

  • A weight loss diet is also a type of healthy diet with limited calories.
  • In this diet, proportions and nutrients should remain similar to a healthy diet while the overall quantity is limited to provide at least 500 calories less than the body’s total daily expenditure.
  • This ensures that all body systems work well and at the same time body burns energy depots, mostly fats, thus helping in weight loss.

Balance is key

I always tell my patients that balance is the key when you are eating especially for weight loss. Unfortunately, most of the fad diets are not balanced diets and may not be healthy.

Whether for health or weight loss, both diets should be similar, except in calorie count so the person remains healthy despite attempts to lose weight.

First the person should find out the calories required daily, which is equivalent to sum of basal metabolic rate + energy burnt through physical activities. Let us call it X and so a healthy diet should provide X calories while a weight loss diet should provide X minus 500 calories. Rest everything should remain the same.

Portion control is therefore crucial, as overeating can lead to obesity, which leads to several health issues. As the calorie intake is reduce, it is advisable to practice smaller yet balanced food breaks throughout the day, to avoid hunger.

Eating well

  • Include plenty of fruits and vegetables in your diet.
  • For example oranges, papayas, carrots, tomatoes, sweet potatoes etc., are rich in vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants.
  • Your food must have whole grains, beans, healthy proteins, and healthy fats as they are important to support the immune system.
  • Eliminate sugar from your diet.
  • A high sugar diet, especially refined sugar and refined processed carbohydrates suppresses the immune system.

Following is the recent diet pyramid to provide balanced diet.

 ‘Learning to balance your diet is key for a healthy lifestyle’

The author is a senior Bariatric Surgeon, Director, Center of Bariatric and Metabolic surgery, Wockhardt Group of Hospitals, Mumbai Central