How to sustain a healthy and balanced diet

Last Updated on 1st December 2023

February, the month when millions of dieters and dry January participants have either fallen off the wagon weeks ago or decided the lifestyle change has made them feel healthier and happier.

So kudos to you if you have not reverted back to your old ways, and want to keep some form of healthy living going. If you did go for a crash diet, you do not need to maintain it to lose weight or indeed not gain again. With some simple swaps, moderation and discipline, you can easily sustain the good work you have done.

In today’s fast-paced world, it is easy to fall into the trap of eating unhealthy meals on the go or skipping meals altogether. While this may seem like the easier option in the short term, in the long run it can have serious repercussions on our health. Eating the right foods is key to living a long and healthy life; however, creating one that meets all dietary requirements can be challenging. To make things simpler, this guide will provide tips and tricks on how to sustain a healthy and balanced diet.

What are the fundamentals of a healthy and balanced diet?

In essence the key to not gaining weight is to burn more calories than you consume, and limit carbs and sugar so your body burns fat instead. But that is often mistaken with starving ourselves rather than filling up on the good things. Instead try these tips:

  1. Eat a variety of foods: Eat a variety of foods from all the food groups, including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
  2. Eat enough: Make sure to get enough calories to fuel your body‘s needs to avoid a crash. 
  3. Watch your portion sizes: Eat smaller portions and avoid overeating.
  4. Limit unhealthy fats: Choose healthy fats and limit saturated and trans fats.
  5. Avoid sugary drinks: Choose water, lowfat milk, or unsweetened tea and coffee instead.
  6. Limit added sugar: Avoid adding sugar to your food or drinks and limit foods that are high in added sugar.
  7. Choose healthy snacks: Choose healthier snacks such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, or wholegrain crackers. While these contain natural sugars and carbs, it’s still less than bread and unhealthy options.
  8. Read food labels: Read food labels to help you make healthy food choices, or cook from scratch with raw ingredients.
  9. Eat mindfully: Take the time to enjoy your food and focus on the taste, texture, and aroma. This helps your stomach send signals to the brain that you are full.
  10. Stay hydrated: Drink enough water throughout the day, ideally 6-8 cups a day. Your urine should be running colourless.
eating healthier food
Healthy living can be rewarding

Understand Nutrient Requirements

Nutrition is an essential part of a healthy and balanced lifestyle and it is vital to understand the nutrient requirements that support wellness to get the nourishment your body needs.

The nutrients within food provide the energy for our bodies, which enables us to function daily and meet our dietary goals. Macronutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins, and fats offer fuel for our cells and organs, while micronutrients like vitamins and minerals aid in metabolic processes. Depending on age and activity level, individual nutrient requirements vary; so it is important to consider your own lifestyle when establishing a diet plan.

Maintain Vitamin And Mineral Intake

Adequate vitamin and mineral intake is essential for sustaining a healthy and balanced diet. Vitamin and mineral deficiency can often lead to deficiencies in other areas of nutrition, resulting in decreased physical performance and an increased risk of developing serious health conditions. It is important to include a variety of foods that contain vitamins and minerals into a daily diet in order to ensure proper nutrition.

In order to maintain vitamin and mineral intake, it is important to:

  1. Consume a variety of fruits and vegetables as they are excellent sources of multiple vitamins and minerals.
  2. Take a multivitamin or dietary supplements each day to ensure adequate levels.
  3. Drink plenty of water or fluids throughout the day as this aids in absorption.

The body needs vitamins and minerals for various functions, including growth, energy production, maintaining healthy body weight, bones, muscles, skin, hair, nails and more. Without sufficient levels of these nutrients, the body struggles to function optimally. An inadequate intake can also result in nutrient deficiencies over time which can cause further health issues. Therefore it is important to ensure that all necessary vitamins and minerals are included in one’s diet on a daily basis.

eating salad at lunch
Swapping sandwiches for salads at lunchtime is an easy move

Make Simple Swaps and Monitor Calories And Portion Sizes

Calorie intake must be met alongside dietary guidelines in order to provide the body with essential nutrients and minerals. Consumption of an excessive amount of calories can result in unwanted weight gain, which can lead to serious health concerns such as diabetes and hypertension. On the other hand, consuming too few calories could lead to nutritional deficiencies. It is important to find that balance between these two extremes.

So rather than going full hog, you can make more simple swaps like skipping the toast for breakfast and a sandwich for lunch for healthier low carb alternatives like omelettes and salads.

Choose Nutrient-Rich Foods

These types of food are those that are packed with vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates and healthy fats. They can help meet the daily needs of essential nutrients while also providing energy and promoting overall health.

Nutrient-rich foods can include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, lean meats and low-fat dairy products. Incorporating these types of foods into one’s diet can help ensure that the body receives essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients while reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Additionally, eating a variety of nutrient-rich foods can provide a wide range of flavours which helps to make meals more interesting and enjoyable.

In order to sustain a healthy diet long-term, it is important to focus on including nutrient-rich foods in each meal. This should be done in combination with monitoring calories and portion sizes for optimal results. Doing so will help maintain good health while also allowing for enjoyment from tasty meals.

Prioritize Proteins

Proteins are a crucial dietary component that provide the body with necessary energy and structural support. It is important to prioritize proteins in order to maintain a healthy and balanced diet. Proteins can be found in many food sources, including dairy products, eggs, meat, fish, legumes, and nuts. All of these sources provide the body with essential amino acids which are needed for a variety of bodily functions from muscle growth to cognitive development.

In addition to providing essential nutrients, proteins also help to keep one feeling full after eating. This can help prevent overeating and reduce the risk of gaining weight. They also provide an energy boost that can help keep people active throughout the day without feeling fatigued or sluggish. Furthermore, proteins can help reduce inflammation in the body which is beneficial for overall health.

It is recommended for adults to consume 0.8-1 gram per kilogram of body weight daily of protein as part of their diet in order to get all the benefits mentioned above. By prioritizing proteins in your daily meals you will be able to ensure your body gets all the nutrients it needs while still maintaining a healthy balanced diet.

Regular exercise will help with your physical and mental well-being

Consider Healthy Fats

When considering a diet that is balanced and healthy, it is important to factor in the consumption of healthy fats. It is also important to note the importance of moderation when consuming dietary fats. While fat should not be avoided altogether, instead it should be replaced with healthier alternatives such as olive oil, avocado or nut butters.

Healthy fats are an important part of any balanced diet as they provide energy and can help the body absorb vitamins and minerals from other food sources. They can also reduce inflammation, support brain health, and help lower cholesterol levels. Fats from animal sources like meat, eggs, and dairy products should be consumed in moderate amounts, while plant-based fats such as those found in nuts, seeds, avocados and olive oils are recommended more often due to their health benefits.

In addition to providing essential nutrients for the body, consuming healthy fats can also help with weight management in that they keep us feeling full for longer periods of time which reduces the chances of overeating or snacking on unhealthy foods. Therefore, it is advised that individuals consider introducing healthy fats into their daily diets as they may be beneficial to overall health and wellbeing.

Wholegrain dough for bread
Switching white for brown bread is a positive move

Incorporate Whole Grains

Whole grains are an necessary part of healthy eating, much like the foundation of a house. When incorporated into everyday meals and snacks, they can provide many benefits to one’s overall health. Whole grains contain dietary fibre which helps to keep us feeling full, while also helping to regulate blood sugar levels.

In addition to this, whole grains are packed with important vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B, iron, magnesium and zinc. They can help reduce the risk of many chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Furthermore, they are also a great source of antioxidants which help protect against oxidative stress-related illnesses.

Whole grains can be easily incorporated into everyday meals by using them in recipes such as soups, salads or even smoothies. They can also be used in place of white flour when baking or cooking. For snacks throughout the day, try adding some whole grain crackers or oats to yoghurt for a tasty treat that will leave you feeling full for longer periods of time.

As evidenced by the above information it is clear that incorporating whole grains into your daily diet has tremendous health benefits and should be done so in order to achieve optimal wellbeing.

Choose Low-Sugar Options

Research shows that over one-third of adults in the UK consume more added sugar than is recommended by the NHS. This makes understanding how to choose low-sugar options an important part of achieving a healthy weight.

Incorporating healthy carbohydrates, such as whole grains, is a great start but avoiding added sugars is also necessary for a balanced diet. One way to do this is to look for alternative sweeteners such as honey, agave nectar or stevia, which are much lower in sugar than other sweeteners. Another way to reduce sugar intake is to avoid processed foods that contain high amounts of added sugar such as cereals and soda. These items should be replaced with fresh fruits and vegetables that have natural sweetness and provide essential vitamins and minerals.

Replacing sugary snacks with healthier options can help reduce daily sugar intake as well. Instead of candy bars or cakes, people should reach for things like nuts, seeds, yogurt or air-popped popcorn. These snacks provide fibre and protein which can help you feel fuller longer while still satisfying cravings for something sweet or crunchy.

For those who want to achieve a healthy and balanced diet, it is important to recognize the amount of added sugar found in many manufactured foods and make wise choices about what goes into their bodies. By focusing on whole grains and limiting added sugars through careful food choices, it is possible to sustain a healthy lifestyle long-term.

Eat Plenty Of Fruits And Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are rich sources of vitamins, minerals, fibre, and antioxidants. Eating an abundance can help reduce the risk of chronic health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables can provide numerous health benefits. For example, consuming dark green leafy vegetables increases the intake of calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, zinc, vitamin C and folate. These nutrients are important for normal body functioning such as maintaining a healthy digestive system and strong bones. Additionally, research suggests that high consumption of fruits and vegetables may reduce inflammation in the body which helps protect against illnesses like arthritis.

Ensuring an adequate intake of these nutritious foods is vital for optimal wellbeing. It is recommended to consume at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily from different types or colours in order to obtain all the necessary vitamins and minerals for good health.

Increase Fibre Intake

Recent studies have shown that increasing one’s dietary fibre intake is beneficial to sustaining a healthy diet. In fact, those who consume the most amount of dietary fibres are 22% less likely to develop coronary heart disease, as compared to those who consume the least amount.

Fibre can be found in various plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes. It is a form of carbohydrate which cannot be broken down by the body’s enzymes and therefore it passes through the digestive system largely intact. As it moves through the digestive system, it helps to absorb water, soften stools and promote regularity in bowel movements; this process helps to prevent constipation and other gastrointestinal problems. Additionally, dietary fibres can also help reduce cholesterol levels by binding with bile acids that contain cholesterol so that they are eliminated from the body before being absorbed into the bloodstream.

Given these benefits, experts recommend that adults should consume at least 25-30 grams of dietary fibres per day. To increase fibre intake in meals, try adding nuts and seeds to salads or yogurt; include whole grain breads and pastas; opt for beans or legumes as an alternative source of protein; replace white potatoes with sweet potatoes; switch white for brown rice; add oatmeal or bran cereal to breakfast regimens; and enjoy fresh fruits more often as snacks or desserts. By making these small changes and including more fibre-rich foods in your daily meals, you can easily achieve a balanced diet while staying healthy.

Limit Processed Foods

While super convenient, processed foods are typically high in calories, salt, sugar, and fat. They are often low in fibre and other important nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. For this reason, it is important to limit the amount of processed foods you eat to maintain a healthy diet. Here are four ways to reduce your intake of processed foods:

  • Buy fresh produce when possible. Fresh fruits and vegetables contain more nutrients than canned or packaged alternatives.
  • Read ingredient labels when buying food at the grocery store. Avoid items that have long lists of ingredients or those you don’t recognize.
  • Prepare meals at home instead of eating out or buying pre-made meals from the store. This way you can control exactly what is going into your food.
  • Choose whole grain options over processed grains such as white bread or white rice whenever possible. Whole grains provide more dietary fibre and other important nutrients like iron and B vitamins.

By limiting the amount of processed foods in your diet, it is possible to sustain a healthy and balanced diet that meets all your nutritional needs while avoiding unhealthy additives and excess calories.

sugary soft drinks
Ditch the sugary drinks in favour of water

Avoid Unhealthy Beverages

The consumption of unhealthy beverages can be detrimental to your body. Studies have discovered that adults who consume sugary drinks such as soda and energy drinks on a regular basis tend to gain weight more rapidly than those who do not. As such, the promotion of avoiding these types of beverages is necessary in order to maintain a balanced diet.

In addition to sugary drinks, alcoholic beverages should also be limited. Alcoholic drinks are high in calories and can contribute to weight gain if consumed excessively. Moreover, alcohol consumption has been linked with an increased risk of several health problems including liver disease, certain types of cancer, and heart disease.

Given the adverse effects associated with unhealthy beverages like soda and alcohol, it is important for individuals to take steps towards reducing or eliminating them from their diets. This may include replacing them with healthier options such as water or unsweetened tea or coffee. Additionally, individuals should make sure to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day in order to stay properly hydrated and reduce cravings for unhealthy beverages in the long run.

Moderate Alcohol Consumption

Here’s one easier when everyone is on dry January, as needs resolve when temptation rears it’s head. Some degree of moderation is necessary for an overall healthy lifestyle.

Like any other calorie-dense beverage, excessive consumption of alcohol can lead to weight gain and increase one’s risk of developing certain chronic illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension. Studies have shown that drinking more than two standard drinks per day increases the chances of developing these issues over time.

Manage Stress Levels

Stress can have an overall negative impact on one’s well-being, with its effects ranging from physical symptoms such as headaches, muscle tension and fatigue to psychological symptoms like irritability and depression. Just as a car needs fuel to keep running, the human body needs an adequate amount of rest in order to perform its daily functions optimally. Picture a bird soaring through the sky without having any destination or goal; that is exactly how one should approach managing stress – aimless and free.

In order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, it is important to make time for activities that bring joy, relaxation and pleasure into one’s life. This could be anything from listening to music or taking a walk outside in nature’s beauty, reading a book or engaging in hobbies such as painting or dancing. Doing something that brings peace of mind will help the body cope better with stressful situations by reducing cortisol production levels. Additionally, self-care practices like mediation, yoga and eating nutritious meals can also be beneficial for attaining relief from stress.

It is good for individuals to understand their individual stress levels and become mindful of what works best for them in terms of relieving it. By creating an environment of peace within oneself, it becomes easier to sustain a healthy and balanced diet which will ultimately lead to greater wellbeing down the line.

sleeping at home

Get Enough Sleep

It is essential to get enough sleep to maintain both physical and mental health. By understanding the importance of sleep and how it relates to a balanced diet, individuals may better sustain themselves through good nutrition.

The latest research on sleep suggests that getting sufficient quality sleep is necessary for overall health. It helps balance hormones that regulate appetite, metabolism, energy levels, and mood. Inadequate sleep can lead to hunger cravings for unhealthy foods, slow metabolism, increased stress levels, inability to concentrate, and feeling irritable or depressed.

Therefore, it is paramount for proper functioning of the body’s systems that individuals receive an adequate amount of restful sleep every night. To do this they should follow a consistent sleeping schedule by going to bed at the same time every night and getting up at the same time each morning. Good habits such as avoiding caffeine late in the day or exercising regularly can also help develop good sleeping patterns.

It is clear that regular quality sleep is an essential part of sustaining a healthy lifestyle through good nutrition. By developing good sleeping habits now, individuals may gain many benefits such as improved concentration, reduced stress levels and improved moods which will all help promote their overall well-being.


Achieving a balanced diet is an essential part of living a healthy lifestyle. It involves monitoring calorie intake, consuming nutrient-rich foods, including proteins and healthy fats in the diet, maintaining moderate levels of alcohol consumption, managing stress levels, getting enough sleep, and ensuring adequate vitamin and mineral intake. Achieving these dietary goals can be tricky to maintain on a day-to-day basis.

In order to sustain a healthy and balanced diet for long-term health benefits, it is important to have an awareness of one’s nutrient requirements as well as practice mindful eating habits. This includes understanding how much food is necessary to provide the body with the right amount of energy while also providing all other essential nutrients. In addition, it is important to remember that moderation is key when it comes to indulgences such as unhealthy snacks or alcoholic beverages.

Ultimately, creating sustainable dietary habits requires dedication and discipline in order to maintain the balance between meeting nutritional needs while still enjoying the pleasures of eating. To realize lasting health benefits from dietary changes, individuals must make conscious efforts to incorporate healthier eating patterns into their life while also recognizing that small adjustments can lead to big differences over time.