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THE BALANCED DIET

A balanced diet will contain a wide variety of foods and thus provide a wide variety of

nutrients. Obviously, what is a balanced diet for an endurance athlete in training will not

be a balanced diet for an elderly, sedentary person. Different foods provide different

nutrients and these nutrients are used for different functions:

 

The Food Pyramid - Summarised

Over the years, nutritionists have divided foods into various food groups. The groups vary depending on the nutritionist who developed them, but generally they look something like this:

 

1. Bread, cereal, rice and pasta

2. Fruit and vegetables

3. Meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, nuts

4. Milk, yoghurt and cheese

5. Fats, oils and sweets

Basically, in order to eat a healthy, balanced diet the idea is to eat more of the foods in

Group 1, with gradually decreasing amounts of Group 2, 3, 4 and 5 (as if the foods were

stacked inside a pyramid).

 

THE FOOD PYRAMID IS A GUIDELINE ONLY! NO NUTRITIONAL ADVICE SHOULD

BE TAKEN AS CONCRETE – IT VARIES WITH THE INDIVIDUAL.

 

Various groups of people will eat differently and have slightly different needs (athletes will need more protein for example)

 

The Basics for Healthy Eating

Balance food intake with regular exercise

Eat a wide variety of foods from the different food groups

Eat only a small amount of fatty foods, particularly those high in saturated fat and

cholesterol

Eat plenty of whole grain products, fruit and vegetables, legumes and foods rich in

complex carbohydrates and fibre

Choose food and drink which is low in sugar in preference to highly sugared

products

Choose and cook food to have a low salt content

Drink alcohol only in moderation

Maintain adequate protein intake, with an emphasis on plant rather than animal

protein sources

Choose foods to provide you with enough iron and calcium to meet your RDI

Practice good food preparation and food safety

Be cautious with the consumption of food additives and dietary supplements

 

CARBOHYDRATES, PROTEINS AND FATS

Energy can be derived from three sources: carbohydrates, proteins and fats.

 

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates contain carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. As a cheap source of energy, they are widely consumed, and form the basis of the diet of much of the human population.

 

Complex carbohydrates – take longer to be broken down by the human body, and

are found in foods such bread, pasta and cereals, wild rice and legumes.

 

Simpl

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