Following the latest fad diet or one you made up may affect your health. Ensure your nutrients and control your portions.
When you don’t have a balanced diet, disorders such as obesity, heart disease, and alterations in the metabolism of glucose, cholesterol, and uric acid, among others, may arise. According to nutritionist Sandra Patricia Alfaro, these complications are highly influenced by a person’s type of diet rather than their own genetics.
Besides, nowadays, it is common to make diet plans that do not make for an adequate nutrient balance, which destabilizes the body’s organic balance and health. According to the specialist, in time, this may have an important influence on the appearance of neurologic disorders such as senile dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, sarcopenia (loss of muscle in old age), and gastric and osteoarticular problems.
Our diet must provide enough calories and nutrients—for instance, if a person needs 1,800 calories in their diet, this must provide macronutrients: 50 to 60 percent carbohydrates as a source of energy, 15 to 20 percent protein, which regulates organic functions, and 25 to 30 percent fats (olive oil, avocado, nuts, or seeds are recommended).
We must also keep in mind micronutrients and fiber, found in fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain cereal. We also need an intake of 30 cubic centimeters of water per kilogram of weight.
Planning the diet
We must eat five daily meals: breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, mid-afternoon snack, and dinner, spaced in three-hour intervals. Sandra Alfaro indicates that the plate must be as big as the perimeter of an open hand; if carbohydrates, grain, seeds, or fruit are going to be consumed, their portions must be as big as a fist; meat needs to be the size of the palm of the hand with closed fingers, and vegetables must be as big as a large cup.
She also adds that lunch or dinner must begin with salad, soup, or a glass of wine, and must end with fruit. If the meal is accompanied with water, we must drink a small glass slowly while ingesting our food.
For breakfast, Alfaro specifies that this meal must have balance between carbohydrates (like tortilla, bread, or grilled plantain); one must choose between the protein offered by cheese, eggs, or meat; one whole fruit must be eaten, and the drink can be selected between juice, oatmeal, latte, chocolate milk, sugarcane water, or herbal tea. Yogurt or kumis with cereal and a fruit can also be preferred.
For the mid-morning snack, she suggests choosing between yogurt, a slice of cheese, nuts, or fruit. Half of the plate at lunch must contain raw and cooked vegetables; a quarter must contain the carbohydrates, which may be rice, potatoes, manioc, plantain, corn, or buckwheat; protein may be meat or grain, and finally, a fruit must also be included.
The mid-afternoon snack may be fruit, nuts, or dairy, and dinner must be distributed between vegetables, carbohydrates (tortilla, bread, rice, or pasta), protein (cheese, eggs, or meat), and finally, a fruit.
Adjusting to each person’s needs
Parents must guide their children’s dietary behavior, explaining to them the importance of eating each food and inviting them to do grocery shopping and to prepare the meals.
Older people may consume sugar and salt in moderation, and on average, six carbohydrates per day, as they need glucose for their brain. It is better for them to eat soft foods and avoid fried foods.
In order to replenish the energy consumed during physical activity, sportspeople must add calories to their diet, consuming whole cereal, dairy, fruits, and they must keep themselves well hydrated.
It is recommended for obese and diabetic people to plan the calories indicated for their weight, size, and constitution in order to avoid energy depletion, with a fiber-rich diet, low in fats and simple sugars.