How to eat a balanced diet

What is a balanced diet?

Everyone always talks about “eating a balanced diet”, but have you ever wondered what that actually means?

Firstly, it is important to note that a balanced diet is essential for general health and well-being, as well as for maintaining a healthy weight. How it is achieved in practice can be very different for different people – not least because every individual is different, taking into account factors such as lifestyle, level of activity and energy demands, metabolism, pre-existing medical conditions, age, gender, health goals etc.

For example, athletes, vegetarians, vegans and those suffering from food allergies, sensitivities or intolerances will all have very different dietary requirements.

Having said that, the broad meaning of a balanced diet is simply one that includes an appropriate amount of food from the various food groups, along with plenty of pure water. Moderation and variety are key.

The modern diet

Unfortunately, in this modern age (with growing time and financial constraints), more and more people are relying on “fast foods” / “junk foods”, ready-meals, frozen foods and highly refined and processed foods to make up the majority of their meals.

Although obviously time-savers, these types of foods tend to be high in refined carbohydrates, sugar, salt, saturated fats and chemicals (such as food additives and preservatives). Not only do they fail to supply the body with the nutrients that it needs, they actually contribute to toxin build-up, which can (for example) potentially lead to digestive problems, poor immunity, weight gain and all of the problems that come with it (including increased risk of diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure etc).

Another common phenomenon is that people will often skip meals in an attempt to lose weight, which in reality is counter-productive. Not only is this approach unhealthy (and has the potential to damage your digestion and internal organs), it can actually prevent weight loss and even contribute to weight gain. Although this sounds illogical, when you think about it, it does make sense.

How skipping meals can lead to weight gain…

It is important to activate your metabolism with the right foods at certain times of the day. Skipping meals (particularly breakfast) can lead to weight gain in a number of ways.

  • When you don’t eat for a prolonged period of time, your body can go into “starvation mode” and your metabolism then slows down to preserve energy. This means that your body will compensate for the inadequate calories by burning fewer calories than it normally would. When your body goes into starvation mode it does not draw from its fat reserves for energy, making it more difficult to lose weight.
  • It tends to result in extreme hunger later in the day, which can then lead to cravings, bingeing and weight gain.
  • It gives you an uneven distribution of calories throughout the day.
  • It means you are depriving your body of the energy it needs to properly function, exercise, burn calories etc.
  • It causes low blood sugar levels and delays insulin response, which can lead to diabetes.
  • It is a temporary measure and won’t solve your long-term weight problems.

Skipping meals is therefore clearly not the answer to healthy weight loss and a balanced diet. The most effective means of losing weight and keeping off is adopting a sensible weight management plan, i.e. making healthier eating choices, exercising, drinking pure water and keeping your metabolism active. Metabolism plays a key role in how quickly you burn fat and lose weight; therefore, it cannot be overlooked as part of your plan for weight management and optimum nutrition.

Why is a balanced diet important?

Exercise alone won’t make you “healthy” – it is just one piece of the puzzle. As the saying goes, you are what you eat. A balanced diet is arguably the most important factor because it gives you access to the broad spectrum of vitamins, minerals, salts, oils and other nutrients required by your body to function in an optimal way, including the energy to exercise.

Learning how to maintain a balanced diet is important for long-term health and weight management.

Where do health supplements come into it?

As a person trying to achieve a truly balanced diet and manage your weight, you might choose to take health supplements for a number of reasons, e.g.:

  1. As a result of depleted soil, long-distance importation, long shelf-life, pasteurisation, cooking methods (such as microwaving) and chemicals in our food, it is often lacking in nutrients, including digestive enzymes. For example, the level of vitamin C in vegetables can decrease by half within 5 minutes of being cut and by up to 70% after just 20 minutes. Similarly, cooking food destroys around half of the protein content and approximately 60% of vitamins and renders about 60% of the minerals non-absorbable. Nutrient-dense, food form supplements can help you top-up on nutrients easily and conveniently, every day.
  2. Restricted food choice can often make it harder to ensure you are getting the full spectrum of nutrients that your body needs on a daily basis. Many slimmers, vegans, vegetarians and others with restricted diets (such as allergy or intolerance sufferers) therefore choose to supplement their diets with tailored health foods and products.
  3. Those suffering from long-standing digestive health problems will often find that it is harder for them to absorb nutrients and lose weight. Digestive system issues are a common side-effect of being over-weight, most likely due to poor diet over a number of years. Many slimmers and those with digestive disorders therefore find that they benefit from, for example, colon cleansers and cleanse and detox supplements as part of their wider weight management programme. Others use probiotics and digestive system supplements to support their inner health and help to restore balanced levels of gut flora.

For more information, visit our main website

Meal shakes for weight loss

Healthy weight management – losing weight and keeping it off!

Protein powders and meal shakes are now two of the most popular and versatile types of dietary supplements available.

Meal shakes and protein powders

Support a balanced diet, appetite control and more…

Meal shakes and protein powders are used for a wide variety of reasons, by a broad spectrum of people, for various health goals. For example:

  • by slimmers seeking low-calorie, nutrients-fortified healthy snack alternatives
  • by those leading an active lifestyle, for support of high energy levels
  • by those with food allergies or intolerances (such as a dairy allergy or gluten intolerance)
  • by those who are health-conscious, as a quick and easy nutrients top-up everyday
  • by those on low-protein diets, such as vegetarians and vegans
  • by those with restricted food choice, such as slimmers, who wish to maintain optimum nutrient intake.

Weight management

A number of studies have suggested that a high-protein diet combined with regular exercise can support the natural weight loss process, enhance fat burning and improve muscle tone and blood fat levels. Most notably, protein can assist in the repair and growth of muscle. This, in turn, leads to more calories being burned each day.

Diets with higher levels of protein may also help people to gain better control over their appetites and calorie intake, as well as help to regulate blood sugar levels and reduce cravings.

Everyone knows that the slimming process can be a challenge. Most weight management programmes involve limited food choice and a reduction in calories. This can sometimes result in a nutrient-deficient diet, if the slimmer is not careful.

For those who want to reduce their calorie (and fat and sugar) intake, but nevertheless want to make sure that they are getting a good amount of quality lean protein, vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients daily, meal shakes and protein powders can provide ideal support, particularly if they are sugar-free, dairy-free, gluten-free and fortified with nutrients.

Of course, nothing replaces a balanced diet, but meal shakes and protein powders can be helpful in terms of substituting unhealthy snacks and boosting nutrient intake.

An active lifestyle

While protein is an essential macro-nutrient for everyone, it is particularly important for those leading an active lifestyle. It plays a key role in keeping the immune system strong and keeping energy levels high. In fact, it is one of the main sources of energy for those following a low-carbohydrate diet.

Vegetarians, vegans and raw food / living food fans

For vegetarians and vegans, a common issue is that they do not take in sufficient calories or protein to meet their body’s full nutritional needs.

Protein is a vital nutrient, which plays many roles in the functioning of our bodies, including building and repairing new cells and muscle tissue, and keeping the metabolism functioning efficiently.

Nutritional guidelines recommend that, as a broad rule of thumb, between 10-15% of total calories should be sourced from protein – ideally, lean protein.

However, a vegetarian or vegan diet does not have to mean a diet lacking in protein or healthy calories – there are a number of excellent plant-based sources out there, which offer high-quality, balanced and complete protein. What’s more, if you are a vegetarian or vegan trying to lose weight, your available protein sources are actually more conducive to your weight loss goals than traditional protein sources (which are high in saturated fat and calories). Plant protein tends to be high in fibre, vitamins, minerals, enzymes and healthy fats.

If you are a vegetarian or vegan who finds it hard to include these first class plant protein foods in your daily meals, vegan meal shakes and protein powders can play an incredibly helpful role in your diet, to address not only the problem of ensuring appropriate intake of protein and calories, but also to assist with daily nutrient supply.

Dietary supplementation

Anyone who lives with an allergy (whether that be to gluten or dairy or any other form of food allergy or intolerance), will know how hard it can be to find foods that suit their lifestyle and/or medical needs. This becomes even more challenging when you are trying to lose weight.

Food choice can often become very limited and, without variety in the diet, a person’s overall well-being can start to suffer. This is never ideal, but when you are in the process of slimming, you really need all the energy you can muster to support increased levels of physical activity.

It is important to bear this challenge in mind and take proactive steps to address it. For example, through careful meal planning and dietary supplementation.

Quite often, slimmers with allergies or intolerances find that meal shakes and protein powders that are dairy, wheat, gluten and sugar free (with no artificial ingredients) can help them to top-up on nutrients and healthy calories, while helping to keep them fuller for longer.

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Meal shakes and protein powders

Shakes – can they help with weight loss?

Tricky meal planning

Meal planning, as part of a slimming or ongoing weight management programme, which ensures that you are receiving optimal nutrition and a broad spectrum of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients every day, can be difficult for a number of reasons:

  • you may be limited to a certain number of calories per day, making it problematic to eat high amounts of even fruits and vegetables
  • you may not be entirely clear on what nutrients you need, in which quantities and/or where to find them
  • you may not have the time to plan and prepare all meals in advance, particularly if you are eating up to 6 times a day
  • you may not have the budget to purchase the required amounts of fresh, organic produce every day, needed for optimum nutrient intake
  • you may not have the time to, for example, prepare fresh juices every day, which can help with the digestion of large quantities of fresh, raw produce and can be a good source of nutrients
  • you may have a medical condition, digestive complaint, food allergy or intolerance, which means that your choice of foods is limited
  • you may be a vegetarian or vegan, making it more difficult to eat a high protein diet which can support weight loss.

Making life easier

If one or more of the above applies to you, don’t worry! There are ways to ensure that you still get the nutrients you need to secure healthy weight loss for the long-term.

High quality meal shakes and protein powders can be an invaluable slimming tool because, not only are they quick and easy to prepare and drink, if you pick the right product they are also packed with nutrients (such as vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre) and are naturally low in fat.

They provide a convenient and reliable way for you to access high levels of nutrients every day, without having to worry about the calories.

Organic superfood shakes (or “green shakes”), for example, allow you to take in nutrient-dense, fibre-rich fruits and vegetables in quantities that would otherwise be unrealistic on a daily basis.

Vegan-friendly, gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar-free light meal shakes can provide a healthy breakfast or snack on the go, even for those people with specific dietary requirements. These types of healthy snacks can help to keep you fuller for longer, staving off cravings and bingeing.

Protein shakes, made from complete, natural and balanced plant-based protein sources (such as hemp, pea or rice) can make it far easier to implement a high-protein diet that supports slimming, because you do not have the high fat content of meat and other animal products.

The convenience offered by these daily food supplements means that there is no longer any excuse to skip meals. It couldn’t be easier for you to meet your optimal nutrient intake on a daily basis, while still sticking to your healthy weight management programme.

Ensuring your weight loss success

When it comes to healthy slimming, finding the best approach can be often be daunting and can sometimes lead to “information overload”. There are so many, often conflicting, information resources on weight loss and the weight management process.

But slimming needn’t be complicated – there are some basic rules that you need to follow. However, always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health practitioner before changing your diet, implementing a new exercise regime or taking health supplements.

Firstly, knowledge is power.

Losing weight in a healthy way and for the long-term involves you taking proactive steps to better understand:

  • your own body and how it works
  • how your body reacts to what you put in it
  • the ways in which existing medical conditions and/or allergies or intolerances can affect the weight management process
  • your metabolism
  • your daily nutritional requirements
  • how health supplements, including meal shakes and protein powders, can support the slimming process.

Nobody is going to lose weight for you and nobody knows your body and how it feels and works better than you. While the above may sound daunting, it really isn’t. The more information you have, the better placed you will be to achieve your health and weight goals. The fact that you have the power to make the desired changes yourself should be empowering!

Take it slowly – you won’t learn everything you need to know in one week. Start by finding a product you like, carry out additional research on the ingredients yourself through reliable online resources. It can also be useful to use high quality meal plans in the early stages, to guide you while you are still learning about how to eat a balanced diet.

Here’s to your long-term weight loss success.

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Natural versus man-made food

Organic nutrients

Natural, organic nutrients – from, for example, fruit, vegetables and leafy greens – help to nourish the body, support natural detoxification and high energy levels and also help to naturally cleanse internal organs and alkalise the blood pH.

Organic forms of these nutritious foods means:

  • no toxic chemicals
  • no GMOs
  • a higher level of nutrients.

This principle extends also to the vitamins and other supplements you might choose to introduce into your daily diet.

Natural or man-made?

The number of milligrams you take of a certain vitamin or mineral on a daily basis is only part of the health equation. The most important factor is how many milligrams your body actually absorbs and uses.

If you buy synthetic or “man-made” health supplements, you could be wasting your money. As they are not natural, the body can’t always work out how to treat them, which means that often they are not fully absorbed. Only organic whole foods, balanced by nature, can provide your body with the nutrients and energy needed to achieve optimum health.

Even healthy people will not be able to fully digest, absorb and use most man-made vitamin and mineral pills. So imagine how little use they will be if you are ill or suffer from digestive system problems – virtually zero. They will pass through your body unabsorbed and be flushed down the toilet after a few hours.

In contrast, natural food state supplement enable the body to utilise the nutrients properly. Only natural whole foods can provide the vital elements and energy that are needed to assist our bodies to reach and maintain optimum health levels. Look after your health the natural way!

Healthy diet and nutrient intake

Wouldn’t it be great if we could all ensure our daily vitamin, mineral and general nutrient requirements were met by diet alone? Unfortunately, in today’s modern and fast-paced world most people consume a diet high in:

  • sugar
  • saturated fat
  • refined carbohydrates
  • nutrient-deficient processed foods
  • caffeine
  • alcohol. 

The lack of nutrients in the average diet is also often exacerbated by the use of prescription drugs, smoking, lack of sleep, lack of exercise, high stress levels and high levels of environmental pollution – the end result is toxic build-up, nutritional deficiency over time and inevitably the body becomes unable to cope.

Once nutritional deficiencies begin to take their toll, the body begins to break down (become ill). Symptoms can be exhibited through many different conditions.

Why you need to replenish your body’s nutrients daily

A lack of nutrients means that your body cannot repair itself fully or efficiently. Over time, this lack of nutrition can cause a host of problems, such as low energy levels, poor memory, irritability, a weak immune system and susceptibility to colds and flu – and these are just the mild issues.

The ability to recover and the speed of recovery following an illness or injury is reduced in nutritionally depleted bodies. We have to eat foods, not only for the calories, but more importantly for the nutrients found within them. This is why so-called “fast foods” and “junk foods” (non-organic processed foods) are basically useless to the body – even though they are high in calories, they provide us with very little by way of of nutrients (vitamins, minerals, essential oils, antioxidants etc).

The end result of continually eating high-calorie and nutritionally-devoid foods is therefore often obesity, low energy levels and poor health. In contrast, if you feed your body’s cells with nutritionally potent foods (such as superfoods) you will not only feel good, but will also look great and support your long-term health and vitality.

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What is coeliac disease?

Coeliac disease (pronounced see-liac and spelled celiac in other countries) is an autoimmune disease, not an intolerance as is often assumed.

This means that the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues, through the production of antibodies. In the case of coeliac disease, this reaction is triggered by gluten.

Gluten is a protein composite found in wheat and related cereals, including barley and rye. If eaten by coeliacs, it inflames and damages the lining of the small intestine.

The primary functions of the small intestine are to breakdown and absorb the nutrients in food. In untreated coeliac disease, the cells lining the small intestine become flat and inflamed and their surface area significantly reduced. This results in a reduction in the absorption of nutrients from food and can lead to malnutrition and deficiencies in vitamins, iron, folic acid and calcium. Sugars, proteins and fats are often poorly absorbed as well.

Coeliac disease is closely related to dermatitis herpetiformis, which is an autoimmune blistering disorder associated with a gluten-sensitive enteropathy.

What causes coeliac disease?

The precise cause, or causes, of coeliac disease are not yet known. However, it is believed that there are three primary factors that underlie its development. These include:

  • an environmental trigger (in this case gluten)
  • a genetic susceptibility
  • an unusually permeable gut.

Occasionally, the stress of an operation, accident, intestinal infection or pregnancy can trigger the onset of the condition.

How is coeliac disease diagnosed?

Research shows that coeliac disease affects around 1 in 100 people in the UK, making it much more common than previously thought. Under-diagnosis is also significant problem, with it being estimated that around 500,000 people have not yet been diagnosed.

Coeliac disease can be diagnosed at any age. For example, even babies can be diagnosed – after weaning, when cereals containing gluten are first introduced into their diet. However, the most common age of diagnosis is currently between 40 and 60 years old.

What are the symptoms of coeliac disease?

The physical signs of coeliac disease vary from person to person and can range from mild to severe – it affects people differently.

Symptoms may present in the digestive tract, or in other parts of the body. For example, one person might have diarrhoea and abdominal pain, while another person may be irritable or depressed. In fact, irritability is one of the more common symptoms in children.

Some of the most common symptoms generally include: tiredness, anaemia, diarrhoea, abdominal discomfort, weight loss, vomiting and mouth ulcers.

Unfortunately, some people present no symptoms at all. While this may sound like a good thing, such people are still at risk of the complications associated with the disease. The longer a person goes undiagnosed and untreated, the greater the chance of developing malnutrition and other complications. Anaemia, delayed growth and weight loss are signs of malnutrition, because the body is just not getting enough nutrients.

In addition, increased incidence of rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes mellitus, autoimmune thyroid disease, sarcoidosis, vasculitis, pulmonary fibrosis, osteoporosis, infertility and other diseases of the gut have been reported in coeliac patients.

How is coeliac disease treated?

Unfortunately, there is currently no known cure for coeliac disease. However, the primary treatment, which is usually very successful, is to remove all sources of gluten from the diet. This approach is also effective in cases of dermatitis herpetiformis.

Concern has surrounded oats containing gluten (as some people with coeliac disease are also sensitive to oats), but studies have shown that consumption of a moderate amount of oats does not worsen dermatitis herpetiformis or celiac disease.

A gluten-free diet is a lifelong commitment, and adherence to a strict diet is difficult to achieve; gluten is present in various foods that are consumed on an everyday basis. Improvement of symptoms can also take several months and requires patience and staying-power. Having said that, a well-planned diet can deliver excellent results.

Nutritional supplementation, in conjunction with a well-balanced diet, is also recommended for patients on a strict gluten-free diet. This will help to ensure that they are receiving the broad spectrum of nutrients (such as vitamins and minerals) that they need. In particular, nutrients-fortified gluten-free meal shakes can be a safe, easy and effective way to achieve this.

For more information, visit our main website

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