Here’s how you can achieve a healthy diet based on variety, balance, and moderation.
We humans want variety. We develop in an environment that has a large amount of plant foods, insects and wild animals, on land and in the sea.
And the drive to consume this variety of edible items was a natural way of fulfilling our needs.
Today we have the same desire, that it would be useful if we selected only from a number of edible plants and wild animals. But is not the case.
We have too many options, not all of them healthy, and studies show that the more options we have, the more we eat.
So a greater variety can create a balanced diet, but only if you choose from a variety of healthy products.
What does balanced mean?
Does it mean “balancing” unhealthy foods with those that are healthy? Do the nutritional aspects of a grapefruit balance the negative aspects of a chocolate cake?
This idea that “everything fits” in a balanced diet can look good if you plan the day’s diet on paper.
You can plan to eat an unhealthy hamburger and fries for lunch, and balance it out with a very healthy breakfast and dinner. And if you calculate your calories and nutrients for the day that way, it might not look too bad.
By carefully selecting your breakfast and dinner options, you may be able to keep the day’s calories and fat in check, while consuming enough nutrients.
But who eats this way? I bet most people who eat fast food for lunch are looking for something very similar for dinner.
And, I doubt someone who eats fish and a kale salad for dinner would visit a fast food place for lunch.
It usually means not overeating, especially for “extra” empty calories, like fats, sweets, and alcohol.
Some people practice moderation very well, they can keep a bag of cookies in a container, without losing control and eating the whole bag.
But for others, the concept of eating just one cracker it is completely strange, since a cookie will always lead to eating another cookie and then another.
These people may never learn what moderation means, and it may be best to avoid any temptation, and in this case not buy cookies in the first place.
So are there bad foods, or just bad diets? From my point of view, we have a little bit of both sides.
I have my personal list of foods that I think are “bad”, and you may have a list too. Whether you eat these foods, and how often, is a personal choice.
But add enough bad foods to your plate and you’re going to have a bad diet.
In the end, we should try to eat as healthy as possible, as many times as possible.
The variety should come, in most cases, from the healthy food options that are available to us.