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It is no hidden fact that Indians are foodies and love to eat good food. We spare no opportunity to enjoy a sumptuous meal with our friends and family. Every region and state in India has its food practices and something truly delicious to offer. Some dishes have a lot of history to them and are being eaten for hundreds of years. There is no food domain that India has left unexplored or has not contributed to. Be it sweet, savory, or any other variety of food, India has it all. In the present times, we all have become conscious of our diet and health. We all want to eat healthy so that we stay healthy. However, obesity is a rising issue in the Indian population. With the growing availability of processed foods, India has seen a surge in obesity and obesity-related chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes. Thus, it has become even more important to be cautious about what to eat. 

What is a balanced diet? 

A balanced diet gives your body the nutrients it needs to function correctly. To get the nutrition you need, most of your daily calories should come from:

  • fresh fruits
  • fresh vegetables
  • whole grains
  • legumes
  • nuts
  • lean proteins

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans Trusted Source explain how much of each nutrient you should consume daily.

About calories

The number of calories in food refers to the amount of energy stored in that food. Your body uses calories from food for walking, thinking, breathing, and other important functions.

The average person needs about 2,000 calories every day to maintain their weight, but the amount will depend on their age, sex, and physical activity level.

Males tend to need more calories than females, and people who exercise need more calories than people who don’t.

Current guidelines Trusted Source list the following calorie intakes for males and females of different ages:

Person Calorie requirements 

  • Sedentary children: 2–8 years 1,000–1,400
  • Active children: 2–8 years 1,000–2,000
  • Females: 9–13 years 1,400–2,200
  • Males: 9–13 years 1,600–2,600
  • Active females: 14–30 years 2,400
  • Sedentary females: 14–30 years 1,800–2,000
  • Active males: 14–30 years 2,800–3,200
  • Sedentary males: 14–30 years 2,000–2,600
  • Active people: 30 years and over 2,000–3,000
  • Sedentary people: 30 years and over 1,600–2,400

The source of your daily calories is also important. Foods that provide mainly calories and very little nutrition are known as “empty calories.”

Examples of foods that provide empty calories include:

  • cakes, cookies, and donuts
  • processed meats
  • energy drinks and sodas
  • fruit drinks with added sugar
  • ice cream
  • chips and fries
  • pizza
  • sodas

However, it’s not only the type of food but the ingredients that make it nutritious.

A homemade pizza with a whole meal base and plenty of fresh veggies on top may be a healthy choice. In contrast, premade pizzas and other highly processed foods often contain empty calories.

To maintain good health, limit your consumption of empty calories and instead try to get your calories from foods that are rich in other nutrients.


Calories are a measure of energy that foods supply. The number of calories you need will depend on your sex, age, and activity level.

Why a balanced diet is important?

A balanced diet supplies the nutrients your body needs to work effectively. Without balanced nutrition, your body is more prone to disease, infection, fatigue, and low performance.

Children who don’t get enough healthy foods may face growth and developmental problems, poor academic performance, and frequent infections.

They can also develop unhealthy eating habits that may persist into adulthood.

Without exercise, they’ll also have a higher risk of obesity and various diseases that make up metabolic syndromes, such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, 4 of the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States are directly linked to diet.

These are:

  • heart disease
  • cancer
  • stroke
  • type 2 diabetes

Learn more about healthy meal plans for kids.

Your body needs nutrients to stay healthy, and food supplies essential nutrients that stop us from getting sick.

What to eat for a balanced diet:

A healthy, balanced diet will usually include the following nutrients:

  • vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants
  • carbohydrates, including starches and fiber
  • protein
  • healthy fats

A balanced diet will include a variety of foods from the following groups:

  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • grains
  • dairy
  • protein foods

Examples of protein foods include meat, eggs, fish, beans, nuts, and legumes.

People who follow a vegan diet will focus entirely on plant-based foods. They won’t eat meat, fish, or dairy, but their diet will include other items that provide similar nutrients.

Tofu and beans, for example, are plant-based sources of protein. Some people are intolerant of dairy but can still build a balanced diet by choosing a variety of nutrient-rich replacements.

Foods to avoid:

Foods to avoid or limit on a healthy diet include:

  • highly processed foods
  • refined grains
  • added sugar and salt
  • red and processed meat
  • alcohol
  • trans fats

What’s healthy for one person may not be suitable for another.

Whole wheat flour can be a healthy ingredient for many people but isn’t suitable for those with gluten intolerance, for example.

Super healthy foods:


Fruits are nutritious, they make a tasty snack or dessert, and they can satisfy a sweet tooth.

Local fruits that are in season are fresher and provide more nutrients than imported fruits.

Fruits are high in sugar, but this sugar is natural. Unlike candies and many sweet desserts, fruits also provide fiber and other nutrients. This means they’re less likely to cause a sugar spike and they’ll boost the body’s supply of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

If you have diabetes, your doctor or dietitian can advise you on which fruits to choose, how much to eat, and when. 


Vegetables are a key source of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Eat a variety of vegetables with different colors for a full range of nutrients.

Dark, leafy greens are an excellent source of many nutrients. They include:

  • spinach
  • kale
  • green beans
  • broccoli
  • collard greens
  • Swiss chard

Local, seasonal vegetables are often reasonable in price and easy to prepare. Use them in the following ways:

  • as a side dish
  • roasted in a tray with a splash of olive oil
  • as the base in soups, stews, and pasta dishes
  • as a salad
  • in purées
  • in juices and smoothies
  • Grains

Refined white flour is featured in many pieces of bread and baked goods, but it has limited nutritional value. This is because much of the goodness is in the hull of the grain, or outer shell, which manufacturers remove during processing.

Whole grain products include the entire grain, including the hull. They provide additional vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Many people also find that whole grains add flavor and texture to a dish.

Try switching from white bread, pasta, and rice to whole grain options.


Meats and beans are primary sources of protein, which is essential for wound healing and muscle maintenance and development, among other functions.

Animal protein

Healthy animal-based options include:

red meats, such as beef and mutton

poultry, such as chicken and turkey

fish, including salmon, sardines, and other oily fish

Processed meats and red meats may increase the risk of cancer and other diseases, according to some research by Trusted Source.

Some processed meats also contain a lot of added preservatives and salt. Fresh, unprocessed meat is the best option.

Plant-based protein

Nuts, beans, and soy products are good sources of protein, fiber, and other nutrients.

Examples include:

  • lentils
  • beans
  • peas
  • almonds
  • sunflower seeds
  • walnuts

Tofu, tempeh, and other soy-based products are excellent sources of protein and are healthy meat alternatives.

Shop for tofu and tempeh.


Dairy products provide essential nutrients, including:

  • protein
  • calcium
  • vitamin D

They also contain fat. If you’re seeking to limit your fat intake, reduced-fat options might be best. Your doctor can help you decide.

For those following a vegan diet, many dairy-free milks and other dairy alternatives are now available, made from:

  • flax seed
  • almonds and cashews
  • soy
  • oats
  • coconut

These are often fortified with calcium and other nutrients, making them excellent alternatives to dairy from cows. Some have added sugar, so read the label carefully when choosing.

Shop for almond and soya milk.

Fats and oils

Fat is essential for energy and cell health, but too much fat can increase calories above what the body needs and may lead to weight gain.

In the past, guidelines have recommended avoiding saturated fats, due to concerns that they would raise cholesterol levels.

More recent research by Trusted Source suggests that partially replacing with unsaturated fats lowers cardiovascular disease risk and that some saturated fat should remain in the diet — about 10 percent or less of calories.

Trans fats, however, should still be avoided.

Recommendations on fats can sometimes be hard to follow, but one scientist Trusted Source has proposed the following guideline:

  • Fats to love: vegetable oils and fish oils
  • Fats to limit: butter, cheese, and heavy cream
  • Fats to lose: trans fats, used in many processed and premade foods, such as donuts

Most experts consider olive oil to be a healthy fat, especially extra virgin olive oil, which is the least processed type.

Deep-fried foods are often high in calories but low in nutritional value, so you should eat them sparingly.

Shop for olive oil.

A balanced diet contains foods from the following groups: fruits, vegetables, dairy, grains, and protein.

Putting it all together:

A healthy diet will combine all the nutrients and food groups mentioned above, but you need to balance them, too.

A handy way to remember how much of each food group to eat is the plate method. The USDA’s “ChooseMyPlate” initiative recommends:

  1. filling half your plate with fruits and vegetable
  2. filling just over one quarter with grains
  3. filling just under one quarter with protein foods
  4. adding dairy on the side (or a non-dairy replacement)

But individual needs will vary.

Aim for around half of your food to come from fruits and vegetables, around one quarter to be protein, and one quarter from whole grains and starches.

Healthier eating shouldn't be a hassle. 

Bottom lines

A varied and healthy diet is usually one that contains plenty of fresh, plant-based foods, and limits the intake of processed foods.

If you have questions about your diet or feel that you need to lose weight or change your eating habits, schedule an appointment with your doctor or a dietitian.

They can suggest dietary changes that will help you get the nutrition you need while promoting your overall health.

Fruit is healthy, but is it enough to fill out your entire diet?

Here is a look at some healthy Indian foods that help you stay fit:

Palak Sabzi

Whether cooked with potato, paneer, or dal, spinach (better known as palak in India) is a very healthy leafy vegetable. It has abundant nutrients such as Vitamin K, vitamin A, and magnesium. They help in bodybuilding, nourishing the skin, and even improving eyesight.


It is prepared with kidney beans and is an absolute delicacy. It has a lot of nutritional value. Rajma is rich in Vitamin K, which provides adequate nutrition to the brain and the central nervous system. It also plays an important role in regularizing bowel movements and maintaining blood sugar levels.


Be it green gram, Bengal gram, or any other pulses, all are an essential part of the Indian diet. The dishes made out of them are mouth-watering and very healthy too. They are good fighters against constipation and other health issues such as high levels of cholesterol. Also, intake of pulses is greatly beneficial for those who suffer from diabetes.

Paneer ki Sabzi

Whether it is Kadhai Paneer, Palak Paneer, or Paneer Bhurji, all are very appetizing and are good for health. Paneer is one such ingredient that has been adopted by Indians in their diet. Around a hundred grams of this milk, the product enriches the body with protein content worth 18 grams.


This South Indian delight is rich in carbohydrates and low in calories, which makes it a delight for people who want a constant check on their weight. Idlis are one of the few Indian foods which are easy to digest and considered to be a great option for a healthy breakfast. They are usually served with sambhar and chutney.


Another South Indian delicacy, Rasam is an intermediate between a food and a beverage. It helps in preventing constipation and keeps people hydrated. Consuming a glass of Rasam after a meal helps in digestion and regular bowel movements.

Tandoori Chicken

Tandoori Chicken is considered a delicious and healthy dish unless it is made with less ghee or butter. Usually, Chicken breasts, considered the most nutritious part of the bird, are used in preparing this delicacy. The food is high in proteins and is particularly useful for those who want to gain muscle mass.


It is a nutritious and low-calorie dish. Dalia is prepared using broken wheat and is high in fiber content. It is particularly useful for those who want to shed weight and refrain from a high-calorie diet.


A balanced diet is a must to stay free from illness and to be healthy.

The Indian cuisine has all that is needed for inclusion in a balanced diet and the Indian foods are also rich in taste and quality.

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