Here’s how to look good and feel better with balanced nutrition
By Rocio Medina, M.D. | Photo by Toa Heftiba/Unsplash
We all want to look good and feel good but often resort to taking shortcuts in our diets due to our fast-paced lifestyles, neglecting the foundations of balanced nutrition. How can we achieve this balance in our diets? Are we more focused on other concerns like weight loss and energy flows?
Some people view nutrition as a means to consume and expend the same amounts of calories to maintain a consistent weight instead of to optimize their body functions. While body weight is important, it is only one factor. According to the World Health Organization, “a healthy diet can protect the human body against certain types of diseases, in particular non-communicable diseases such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, some types of cancer, and skeletal conditions.” In short, it helps you to look good and feel good.
Sounds simple, right? On the contrary, a recent Herbalife Asia Pacific Balanced Nutrition Survey reaffirmed that it was easier said than done. Over a third of respondents felt that adopting a balanced nutrition approach was not easy with urban lifestyles, as consumers tend to choose ready meals instead of making proper nutrition choices.
The survey showed that while the average correspondents’ diets were close to 4-3-3 ratio, it was deeply lacking in fruits, vegetables, dietary fiber, and proper hydration
A healthy balanced diet should include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts, without too much sugar or salt to provide a good combination of nutrients such as carbohydrate, protein, and fat, along with vitamin and fiber. As a guiding principle, Herbalife Nutrition stands by a “4-3-3” philosophy of balanced nutrition—with an ideal diet comprising 40 percent carbohydrates, 30 percent protein, and 30 percent fats, along with vitamins and minerals, dietary fiber, and water. The survey showed that while the average correspondents’ diets were close to this ratio, it was deeply lacking in fruits, vegetables, dietary fiber, and proper hydration.
What’s causing this? Respondents indicated that the top two obstacles preventing them from adopting a balanced nutrition are lack of time and motivation. While it does take effort to kick-start a positive nutrition habit, it is not difficult to integrate it into your life with planning. Here are some practical tips you can incorporate in your life to achieve balanced nutrition.
- Map out your nutrition journey. Understand your own body’s nutrition needs and goals—whether it is to gain, lose, or maintain weight. It is as important as your age, height, gender, lifestyle, and overall general health. If you’re unsure where to start, get support from health experts and groups. The survey findings showed that over a third of respondents agreed that if they had expert advice for a personalized nutrition plan, they were more motivated to adopt a balanced nutrition approach.
- Place healthier choice within reach. Review the circumstances behind the food choices. Did you succumb to quick foods as it is the most convenient? Over half (56 percent) of respondents revealed that easier access to healthier choices would make it easier to have a balanced nutrition. On your next shopping trip, stock up on healthy fruits, vegetables, and snacks and keep them within reach. Then, choose the healthiest way of preparing your meals such as steaming or broiling instead of deep-frying. Also, make a mental note of healthier food options when eating out.
- Be mindful to avoid highly refined food such as white rice, bread, and products made with white flour like cakes and cookies. Meat is one protein source, though high levels of saturated fat may raise cholesterol. Instead, try fish, especially oily fish, legumes, and beans.
- Find strength in numbers. Surrounding yourself with like-minded people can help you reach your exercise and nutrition goals. The survey findings affirm this with 35 percent of respondents agreeing that being with like-minded people helps them stay on track. The British Journal of Sports Medicine also found that people who regularly walk in groups have lower blood pressure, resting heart rate, and total cholesterol. As a start, join or organize a walking group of friends, neighbors or colleagues and build your own support system.
As you embark on your own nutrition journey, don’t forget to review your needs from time to time. After all, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Soon, you’ll feel better with improved energy and vitality. And friends and family may notice that you’re looking better.