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Cultivating a Balanced Diet

Cultivating a balanced diet can seem like a difficult task. For one thing, “balanced diet” is quite vague. Moreover, we often perceive balanced diets inaccurately. Balanced diets are not about restricting yourself or about monitoring your every macromolecule.

Balanced diets are about understanding what fuels your body and what slows it down. If you embark upon a diet in the right way, you can be golden. The key to maintaining any diet is to start small. While it might be tempting to go all in, it is not practical. People often make this mistake and crash and burn.

Take it Slowly

That being said, you should still make big goals! In order to attain them, however, you need momentum. How do we get momentum? By taking small stepsMomentum increases our confidence, driving us forward. Eventually, we gain the confidence to believe we can achieve the large goals. Think about it: going all in on a rigid diet with zero confidence is not promising, because we only gain the ability to move forward when we believe in ourselves.

U.S. Dietary Guidelines suggest regularly eating foods in the five food groups: vegetables, fruits, grains, proteins, and dairy. In addition, they suggest that a balanced meal consists of half fruits/vegetables and half grains/protein.

These categories are far from restrictive. Moreover, it is recommended to add variety to vegetables in order to attain sufficient nutrients. Without a doubt, it is no surprise that this tactic is successful; humans inherently enjoy having the option to make a choice.

Carbohydrates: We Need Them!

Carbohydrates: it is so important to recognize them for what they are: healthy and necessary! Many people try to avoid carbs, deeming them unhealthy. This arises from the tendency to equate carbohydrates with doughy foods. Carbohydrates, however, are our main source of energy and are actually necessary for survival.

Carbohydrates are broken down into categories: simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates include candy, soda, doughnuts, and pastries. These carbohydrates have low nutritional value. However, complex carbohydrates are key to a balanced diet. They are plant-based, containing loads of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. These include fruits, legumes, whole grains, and vegetables.

Mindful Eating

People embarking on diets are often so focused on the what, that they neglect the how. The way you eat, though, is far from trivial. Research shows that mindful eating reduces restrictive eating and increases self-acceptance. In addition, it is linked to weight loss, decreased cravings, and reduced overeating. Mindful eating refers to eating with awareness, consciously noting your senses as you take in your food. Instead of focusing on weight loss, individuals learn to appreciate their experiences with food, while cultivating a better relationship with their body.

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