A reader’s questions about balanced diet, vegetarianism

By Asunta Simoloka

In response to an article introducing the health and nutrition page, a reader asked what foods make a balanced diet and why some vegetarians die early.
Balance.

A balanced diet is a pattern of meals that combine different foods in the right proportions to nourish and keep the body healthy.

Every meal should have three parts filled with the following foods

1. A starchy food like rice, potatoes, bread, maize meal, wheat, barley, sorghum, and millet

2. A non starchy fruit or vegetable or both

3. The third section of a meal contains one or more of the following foods

a. Beans, peas, lentils, nuts, and seeds
b. Dairy like fresh milk, cultured milk, and unprocessed cheese
c. Egg, fish
d. Bird meat, red meat

Sorghum

Sorghum

Choose beans, peas, lentils, nuts, and seeds very often, followed by dairy while eating eggs and fish in moderation. If you eat meat, opt for bird meat occasionally and red meat rarely, you are better off without these two meats.

Vegetarians who die early

There is such a thing as unhealthy vegetarianism. Much as dropping meat from your diet is a major step in the right direction, being a vegetarian alone will not make you optimally healthy, you need to make additional lifestyle changes.

Some vegetarians eat highly processed foods, added sugar, soft drinks, diet drinks, candy, and unhealthy fats; these are things that sabotage your health. There are vegetarians who under consume fruits and vegetables and hate to drink water, then some feel they do not have to exercise just because they are vegetarian, not realizing that lack of exercise is very harmful.

Mangoes

Mangoes

Vegetarians should also replace meat with lots of legumes, nuts, and seeds, some dairy, and eggs in moderation to form complete proteins and maintain nutritional balance.

Vegetarianism is just one vital piece of a healthy lifestyle, optimal wellbeing entails making broader changes including exercise, restricting alcohol, avoiding smoking, managing stress, proper sleep, eating unprocessed foods, and following a diet that has balance and variety. Ultimately, it is the sum of all these habits that makes you optimally healthy.

Weight management tip

Fat in avocado won’t make you fat. Avocado has healthy monounsaturated fats that help the body burn fat.