Published on : 27 August 20194 min reading time

A balanced diet is the assurance of staying healthy and maintaining an appropriate weight. And really, it’s not complicated! It is enough to respect a few main principles.

Apart from breast milk, no single food contains all the nutrients necessary for the body’s functioning: proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, trace elements, fibres. The more you vary and diversify your diet, the more you cover all your needs.

Eat at least one food from each family every day: starchy foods, fruits and vegetables, meat-and-fish-eggs, dairy products, fat.

Eat different foods from each family from one day to the next (for example, bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, etc.). Don’t panic if you are struggling to get a balance on a meal or a day: what counts is to have it on the week.

Eat a balanced diet while respecting the food pyramid

The body does not need all foods in the same amounts. Some families must be very present (base of the food pyramid), others less so (peak). This gives for each day:

– Water at will. Drink at least 1.5 litres of liquid, during and between meals, in the form of water and non-caloric drinks;

– Starchy foods at every meal. Cereals, cereal-based foods (rice, pasta, semolina, wheat, bread…), dried vegetables (lentils, beans, peas…), potatoes… preferably whole;

– 5 fruits and vegetables. That is to say at least 400 g, at all meals, in all their forms (cooked, raw, mixed…);

– 1 to 2 times meat, fish or eggs; in a smaller proportion than the accompaniment (starchy foods and vegetables). For meat, prefer the least fatty pieces. For fish, also eat fatty species;

– 3 dairy products. At each meal, alternate milk, cheese, and yoghurt in order to obtain a good compromise between fat and calcium;

– A little fat. Vary the sources (oils, butter, margarine…) and moderate your consumption;

– Rarely, sweet products. All are caloric, either because they are rich in sugar (sodas, candies…), or because they combine sugar and fat (pastries, Viennese pastries, chocolate…);

– Alcohol in moderation. Limit your intake to 3 glasses per day for a man and 2 for a woman. Alcohol is the only food the body can do without.

Have 3 to 4 balanced meals a day

To provide the body with the energy and nutrients it needs at all times, it is necessary to distribute food intakes throughout the day.

– Breakfast. Essential, it must be sufficient (25 to 30% of the day’s intake) and complete: drink + cereal product + dairy product + fruit + 1 little sugar (jam) and/or fat (butter).

– Lunch and dinner. Ideally, they should consist of a starter (preferably raw vegetables, soup), a main course consisting of 100 to 150 g of meat, fish or eggs, vegetables (200 g) and starchy foods (50 to 100 g cooked), a dairy product and a fruit. For example: grated carrots/ green bean steak steamed potatoes / yoghurt/compote.

– Taste it. Not mandatory, it allows better distributing the daily energy intake. Depending on the appetite: fruit, cereals, dairy products….

Balance your menus by adapting your contributions to your needs

Because every human being is different, these basic rules must be adapted according to:

– Needs. The proportions and quantities must be adjusted according to gender, age, condition (pregnancy, breastfeeding…), and degree of activity..;

– Appetite. It is necessary to respect the signals of hunger and satiety;

– The way of life. Some people are satisfied with a sandwich for lunch while others only have lunch in a restaurant… No matter: you have to restore the overall balance over the day, then over the week;

– Tastes and habits. There’s no point in forcing yourself to swallow broccoli when you hate it, when many other vegetables have the same nutritional benefits. A balanced diet means being able to navigate visually through (and between) the different food families.