The 5 Rules of a Balanced Diet

Megan Segura
Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

Whether you’re hoping to lose weight or just become healthier, it’s important to eat a balanced diet, but what exactly does that mean? Nutritionist Gina Keatley, CDN shares her five rules for making sure you’re getting the most out of every single meal.

1. Fall back in love with food.
“Sitting down to a delicious and satisfying meal is one of life’s joys,” says Keatley. “As a dietitian, my clients often tell me they hate what they’re eating and that consuming healthy foods is a chore. Food should be marvelous every time you eat. My suggestions for falling back in love are simple: Start by looking at food in a seasonal way. This will allow you to enjoy an ingredient until its time has passed for the year, and you can look forward to its return in the future.”

2. Eat breakfast.
Keatley suggests breakfast isn’t just about eating—it’s about eating well. “I suggest you wake up just a few minutes early and make breakfast, an experience you will enjoy, instead of stuffing your mouth as you run to the subway or car to wait in traffic. Invest in a few must-haves for breakfast prep. First, you need a large bowl that you locate in the middle of your kitchen. You must keep this full with a variety of fruits and veggies. Second, get a good omelet pan and spatula. These are must-haves, because eggs really are a great way to start the morning and having the basic equipment will make that five-minute omelet true to its name.”

3. Eat more protein.
“Protein, I believe, is the least understood and most undervalued of all the macronutrients,” says Keatley. “I have just begun exploring a new book from Dr. Pierre Dukan, titled The Dukan Diet. This high-protein diet addresses the values and necessities of lean protein in both weight loss and weight maintenance. In addition, the list of 100 nutrient-dense foods includes several of my favorite options, like seafood, which is packed with vitamins and minerals and is considered to be a low-calorie protein source.”

4. Switch it up.
“The nutritional content of each food differs, so we know that if you just eat a repetitive pattern of foods, you stand the chance of missing out on valuable nutrient benefits. Learning to try new things and switch it up is not only of interest to your taste buds, but it also aids your physique.”

5. Brush up on your cooking skills.
“Understanding how to cook will help you to stay healthy and balanced,” says Keatley. “You must start out by learning your basic cooking techniques. You don’t have to get a culinary arts diploma, but understanding a few cooking methods can be your invitation to a world of undiscovered health. I suggest you start with searing, a technique in which the surface of the food (usually meat, poultry or fish) is cooked at a high temperature, so a caramelized coating forms. The key to this method is not to feel like you should always be touching the ingredient. Second, is a basic roasting. This is a cooking method that uses dry heat, whether it’s an open flame, oven or other heat source. This is excellent for most dinners. You prep your ingredients—some fish fillets, chopped veggies—and toss them in to roast. Each month, try out a new technique with the goal of health, nourishment with a dash of delicious.”

Read more: 15 Ways to Boost Your Metabolism without Exercise