Planning a Healthy Diet is as easy as ABC (and NMV)

The word “diet” is often associated with counting calories or short-term weight loss strategies. By definition, the term simply means one’s daily consumption of food. Following a wholesome eating pattern across one’s lifetime will help achieve and maintain a healthy body weight and reduce the risk of chronic disease. A healthy diet incorporates six diet-planning principles that can be remembered through the acronym ABCNMV.

Adequacy: This means providing all the essential nutrients, fiber, and calories in amounts sufficient to maintain good health. For example, a person loses iron each day through normal metabolism, so it is important to replenish this essential nutrient to prevent iron-deficiency which may cause fatigue and headaches. To prevent these symptoms, a person could include iron-rich foods in their daily intake like green leafy vegetables, eggs, and legumes. One way to do this is to start the day with a spinach omelet, incorporate a side-salad to one or more meals, or add lentils or beans to a soup (using my recipe in my last post!).

Balance: Balance in the diet helps to ensure adequacy. This means providing foods in proportion to one another and in proportion to your individual needs. Dietary balance involves six classes of essential nutrients: water, carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals. The balancing act involves incorporating a daily intake of these nutrients for optimal health. One of my go-to dinners that incorporates all the essential nutrients includes baked salmon (protein, fat, vitamins), brown rice (carbohydrates, minerals), and steamed broccoli (vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates).

Calorie Control: The management of calories consumed from foods should balance with the number of calories being used by the body to support a person’s metabolism and physical activity level. The key is forming good nutritional habits and careful meal planning combined with daily exercise.

Nutrient Density: The more nutrients and fewer calories in food contributes to higher nutrient density. Fruits and vegetables are examples of nutrient dense foods or choosing whole wheat bread versus a bagel. If you are trying to incorporate more calcium in your diet,  choose fat-free milk versus whole milk for a nutrient dense option.

Moderation: “Everything in moderation” is phrase often used when talking about calorie control or basic diet principles. Moderation contributes to adequacy, balance, and calorie control by providing enough, but not too much, of one particular nutrient. I call it the 80/20 rule for a balanced lifestyle. 80% of my time is meal-planning, cooking at home with quality ingredients, and trying to eat less at every meal. The other 20% is the daily chocolate and wine consumption (in moderation!) or a weekend splurge of dinner out.

Variety: Food diversity improves nutrient adequacy. Eating a wide selection of foods within the major food groups ensures that you receive different amounts of nutrients from different types of foods. Eating wholesome meals does not have to be monotonous. Variety is the spice of life!

Quote of the week:

Sometimes you need to change the PLAN, not the GOAL.  ~ Mel Robbins

Recipe of the Week
With Super Bowl Sunday this week, healthy snacks are essential! I am providing a twist on a traditional hummus by using white beans instead of chickpeas.

White Bean Hummus
1 can cannellini beans (15 oz), drained and rinsed
2 heaping tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1-2 lemons
1 clove garlic minced or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
a few twists of Himalayan salt grinder (or sea salt)
1-2 tablespoons of water as needed to thin
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Place ingredients in food processor, except water, and blend until desired consistency.

Taste for flavor and add additional ingredients to your liking. I usually add more salt and lemon juice. Add 1 tablespoon of water at a time to thin. I like a thinner hummus so may add more than 2 tablespoons of water. Enjoy with raw veggies or whole grain crackers or use as a sandwich spread. Makes about 1 ½ cups.

White Bean Hummus

Published by

Leslie Ouellette

Listening and learning about nutrition, exercise, and health-related issues has been a life-long passion turned into action. I am most passionate about my family, friends, and good health. I am a business professional with over 30 years of expertise in marketing, market research, communications, writing, and editing. @balancedhealthblog

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