Nutrition: discover the basics of a healthy and balanced diet

[Article updated on 19/09/2023]

Adopt a healthy and balanced diet is essential for maintaining an active lifestyle and preserving your health. Understanding the basics of nutrition will help you make smart food choices and avoid common mistakes that can harm your well-being. In this article, I share with you the main elements of a healthy and balanced diet as well as some practical tips to help you improve your eating habits, which are fundamental to good health!

Before reading on

I’m not an expert in this field, but I am passionate about nutrition and health.

The articles you’ll find on my site are the result of in-depth research that I’d like to share with you. However, I would like to stress that I am not a health professional and that my advice should in no way replace that of a qualified physician. I’m here to guide you, but it’s important that you consult a professional for specific questions or medical concerns. Your well-being is important. So be sure to consult the appropriate experts and take the best possible care of yourself.

Macronutrients: The pillars of the diet

THE macronutrients are nutrients that our body needs in large quantities to function properly. They understand :

  • The proteins, which participate in the construction and repair of tissues (muscles, skin, hair, etc.) and which are also necessary for the proper functioning of the immune system.
  • Carbohydrates, which provide the energy our body needs to carry out its daily activities. We distinguish between simple carbohydrates (sugars) and complex carbohydrates (starches), the latter being better assimilated by the body and providing more lasting energy.
  • Lipids, which provide various important functions, notably in metabolism, hormone production and the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K).

Each of these macronutrients must be consumed in appropriate amounts to maintain a balanced diet. A commonly recommended distribution is 15 to 25% protein, 45 to 65% carbohydrates and 25 to 35% fat.

Micronutrients: Essentials to meet nutritional needs

In addition to macronutrients, our body needs micronutrients to ensure its proper functioning. Among these :

  • Vitamins, which have many functions, such as facilitating cell growth, strengthening the immune system or even participating in energy metabolism.
  • The minerals, which play an essential role in the formation of bones and teeth, the regulation of heart rate, the proper functioning of muscles and nerve transmission.

Micronutrients are mainly found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, but also in dairy products and meat.

ceramic dish with vegetables

Adopt a varied and balanced diet

In order to cover all your nutritional needs, it is essential to consume a variety of foods. Here are some tips to help you diversify your diet:

  • Eat fruits and vegetables : They are rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber. Try to include at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day in your meals.
  • Eat lean proteins : Favor white meats (chicken, turkey), fish, eggs and low-fat dairy products. Legumes (lentils, chickpeas) and tofu are also excellent sources of plant-based protein.
  • Opt for complex carbohydrates : Prefer whole grains (brown rice, wholemeal pasta) to refined foods (white bread, white pasta), because they are more nutritious and provide more lasting energy.
  • Choose quality lipids : Consume unsaturated fatty acids (olive oil, nuts, avocado) rather than saturated fats (butter, cream, fatty meats).

Limit processed foods and added sugars

Processed foods and added sugars can be harmful to your health if consumed in excess. It is therefore important to limit them and favor a diet rich in fresh and natural foods. Avoid as much as possible:

  • Prepared meals and fast foods, which often contain significant amounts of salt, sugar, saturated fats and preservatives.
  • Sugary drinks (sodas, industrial fruit juices), which provide a lot of calories without providing real nutrients.
  • Confectionery, biscuits and other sugary products, which are high in added sugars and empty calories.

Adopt good eating practices

Beyond the choice of foods, it is also essential to adopt good eating practices. Here are some tips to put in place:

  • Listen to your hunger and fullness : Eat when you are hungry and stop eating when you are full. Don’t skip meals and avoid eating too quickly.
  • Promote conviviality : Eat your meals at the table and share them with those around you. This not only promotes social exchanges, but also allows you to become aware of what you eat and better savor your food.
  • Maintain a regular eating schedule : Try to eat at fixed times and divide your energy intake into 3 main meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) and possibly healthy snacks.
  • Hydrate yourself enough : Drink at least 1.5 liters of water per day to ensure the proper functioning of your body. Choose still or sparkling water over sugary drinks.

By following these tips and learning about the basics of nutrition, you can gradually improve your eating habits and fully enjoy the benefits of a healthy and balanced diet.