Having a balanced diet requires making balanced and smart decisions. The key is to understand that all bodies have different needs.
Advisor: Alicia Cleves Huergo
Nutritionist and dietitian
Eating well is never about giving up food or saying no to certain treats. Eating well is about choosing what you eat, when it is best to eat and how much to eat. What is recommended for some is not necessarily recommended for others. According to nutritionist and dietitian Alicia Cleves Huergo, the reason for this is that all bodies are different and the nutritional needs of a child are not the same as those of a teenager, adult or pregnant woman.
Diets cannot be standardized. They should be chosen depending on a person’s activities, sex, weight, stage of life they are at and state of health. In other words, there are many factors that should be taken into account in order to establish the right nutrition plan for someone,” our specialist states.
What should a diet consist of?
A little of everything, of course, but in moderation and by making good choices. Proteins, carbohydrates, fats, fruits and vegetables are therefore essential to any nutrition plan. Leaving any of these foods out can cause health complications in the mid to long term.
Proteins with a high biological value include eggs, milk and meat. For vegans and vegetarians, legumes are an alternative. However, for those who follow these diets, the U.S. National Library of Medicine warns, “Most plant proteins are incomplete. Proteins from meat and other animal products are complete proteins. This means they supply all of the amino acids the body can’t produce on its own.” Amino acids help produce new cells and help regenerate those that need it.
As nutritionist Cleves Huergo explains, carbohydrates are classified as simple and complex. Complex carbohydrates are absorbed slowly, they make you feel full and they are found in grains such as rice and quinoa, and in plantains and potatoes, among others. They include whole-grain breads, other whole grains, starchy vegetables and legumes. Simple carbohydrates are absorbed quickly, however, and are found in the natural sugars of fruits, vegetables, milk and dairy products. They also include the added sugars of processed and refined foods.
Contrary to what many people think, this type of nutrient is an important part of your diet. Among its other benefits, it provides the energy your body needs to function and is good for having healthy skin and hair. High quality fats include vegetable-based fats such as olive and canola oils. Avocados, grains, nuts and seeds are also good sources of healthy fats. Animal fats should be something you avoid in your diet as well as the processed and trans foods that are found in “junk” food.
There is no miracle solution
On social media or on the web, the list of ‘magic diets’ never seems to end, as well as the people who believe that these nutritional programs will make them lose those extra pounds. While that may be possible, at what cost?
As nutritionist Cleves Huergo indicates, the most common consequences of adopting these practices are anemia, malnutrition, calcium deficiency, hypoproteinemia (protein deficiency in the body), kidney disorders, osteopenia and other complications. She emphasizes, “All nutrients are necessary at all stages of life. It is not about eliminating them because when that happens, your metabolism goes crazy.”
With protein-based diets, our specialist warns that the kidneys are the most affected since the body does not have the ability to store an excess amount of this substance, making the kidneys work twice as hard, which may potentially cause renal failure.
While they are not the best aspects of a nutrition plan, there is no need to be extreme about eliminating candies, sweets and fast foods. It is okay to eat them in a conscious way, as something extra, without including them as part of your daily diet. In such cases, it is important to consider how often you eat them, and of course seek out the guidance of a specialist in order to follow a balanced nutrition plan without leaving those little pleasures behind.
Are smoothies and fasting the answer?
Of course not! To start, it is important to clarify that smoothies are supplements, not a main meal, which is why there is no advise against drinking them, as long as they do not turn into a replacement for your breakfast or dinner. More specifically, as Huergo indicates, a green vegetable smoothie that isn’t sieved, for example, can be used as a reinforcement for those who do not eat enough fiber.
Similarly, occasional fasting is also a delicate matter. “With fasting, what people believe happens in theory is that when they don’t eat anything, the body begins to use what is stored. However, what really happens, is that when fasts begin the night before and continue for a long time, blood sugar levels go down, and the persona may experience acid reflux and gastritis; which is why it is much easier and healthier to watch your calories, not overeat, do exercise, not eliminate nutrients and therefore protect your metabolism,” Huergo states.
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