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Planning a Balanced Diet

Most people are already aware that their diet should be balanced. After all, we’re taught about food groups and pyramids from a very early age. The question for many becomes how, rather than whether to eat a balanced diet. While there are many theoretical ways to accomplish balance, putting ideas into practice and taking action often proves difficult.

One way to accomplish this balancing act is to do some planning. Ask yourself what types of foods you and your family like to eat. Make a list of as many foods as possible. Next, take the list and assign each food to a category. The categories you choose should be closely aligned with the standard groups identified on the food pyramid. You might have groups for fruits, vegetables, whole grains, other starches, lean proteins, dairy, other proteins, etc.

Review the finished list and see if there is any way to add additional healthy foods to it. Maybe some new fruits and vegetables can be added for variety. It is worth taking a few minutes to brainstorm any foods you may have forgotten.

Once you have finalized the list and sorted it into categories, decide how many times you will eat each day. There are many approaches to daily eating including three squares, three moderate meals with small snacks in between, or five to six mini-meals spaced throughout the day. It is wise to test the various schedules and see what works the best in your situation.

Next it will be necessary to combine your food choices into actual meals taking care to choose a variety of food categories for each meal. This is where good balance will come in. Go for a colorful plate with ample fruits and vegetables and some lean protein. Supplement with healthy whole grains. Make conscious decisions when choosing your food and make sure your choices will further your goal of healthful nutrition.

Unfortunately we are not always able to follow our plans perfectly. As a result, many people choose to take a multi-vitamin or other supplements that may be missing from their daily plan. While it is always preferable to get nutrition directly from food and taking supplements is not an adequate substitute for eating well, taking vitamins could be a wise move.

Of course choosing which vitamin supplements to take can be confusing and expensive. One of the major rules to follow concerning supplementation is to consult with your doctor or nutritionist first and then choose top quality brands. There are many good specialty shops offering every vitamin and mineral supplement imaginable. Your health professional should be able to make some good recommendations.

In the end, vitamins should be used to supplement and insure a healthy diet rather than as a substitute for healthy eating. Following a sensible eating plan most of the time and simply taking a supplement to fill in any overlooked gaps is the best plan.