Just ate something and hunger pangs strike again? Have you ever wondered why?

Well, the reason can be that you are not taking a balanced diet. A balanced diet replenishes all the necessary nutrients in your body and keeps you full and energised for long. Hence, the scope of feeling hungry repeatedly is really low.

This year, the National Nutrition Week is celebrated from 1st to 7th September, which was started by the central government in 1982. The campaign aimed to create awareness on nutritious food and balanced diets. The focus has remained the same throughout, with a new theme being introduced each year.

But to work towards a balanced diet, one should first work on getting rid of the elements and factors that hinder it. So, on priority, junk food should be completely eliminated from one’s diet.

Well, hear it from the experts!

Dr Neomee Shah, lifestyle nutrition expert and a holistic health coach, says, “It is imperative to inculcate lifestyle changes with a mindset of clean eating and holistic living. Junk food is nothing but processed food, which is made in factories and has a restricted shelf life. It is meant for manufacturers to make a profit on it but not for our body to digest. Nature has given us many fresh food options, which we should include in our daily lives and refrain from harmful produces. Most people opt for junk food when there is no healthy option available around them.”

Planning a meal well is the key to have a nutritious meal. Seema Singh, chief clinical nutritionist and head of the department, Fortis Hospital Vasant Kunj, says, “Plan a day’s diet plan in advance. You should plan to consume a particular food every three hours. Otherwise, if you skip your meals or there are large gaps between meals, then the next time you will be hungry with higher intensity and it will force or drive you to eat easy meals or whatever is available at that time.”

Rahul Bajaj, director and conceptualiser of Out of The Blue, says, “Consume meals that are full of essential nutrients. This way, your body gets the right nutrients it needs, and you won’t end up getting extremely hungry right after eating.”

Be friends with fruits as they are the best source of nutrition in your daily diet
Fruits are a powerhouse of vitamins, minerals, fibre, antioxidants, and digestive enzymes. Most fruits are rich in vitamin C and A, and also offer tons of minerals like calcium, potassium, and iron in varying amounts.

Luke Coutinho, holistic lifestyle coach – integrative Medicine, says, “Fruits are powerful immunity boosters, inflammation fights, anti-ageing, and a good source of prebiotic fibres that are necessary for good bacteria to survive on. Overdoing on fruits is not at all healthy. Consumption of fruits must be personalised to an individual’s health condition especially in cases of diabetes, kidney diseases, uric acid, and high triglyceride levels.”

He added, “Excess intake of fruits can overwhelm the liver with fructose overload. Aim for different colours of fruits because each fruit is unique in its nutritional value. Fresh, local, chemical-free, and whole fruits (instead of juiced) are the ones we should be aiming for.”

Parina Joshi, nutritionist and dietician, Surya Hospital, “What is life without colours and similarly, it is impossible to imagine a balanced diet without colours, which one can obtain from varieties of fruits in our daily diet. Other than adding colour, texture, and variety to our diet fruits are also an excellent source of vitamins and minerals which are highly essential for health.”

Indulge in the power of papaya, banana, and apple
Bhagyashree Solanki, dietician, Bhatia Hospital Mumbai, shares, “Fruits are an important part of the healthy diet. Dietary fibre from fruits helps reduce blood cholesterol levels. Fibre is important for proper bowel function and it helps reduce the risk of constipation and diverticulitis (especially papaya, banana, and apple).”

Usha Sisodia, R.D clinical nutritionist and lifestyle medicine practitioner, Head of Department, Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital, says, “Fruits are nature’s gift to all animals including humans due to its nutritious and easy digestion qualities. Moreover, fruits consumption doesn’t follow an age bar and are ideal for all age groups.”

Rohit Shelatkar from Vitabiotics Ltd. explains the importance of omega 3 fatty acids in a balanced diet
A crucial source of Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) and Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), omega 3 fatty acids offer a host of benefits like, reducing the risk of high blood pressure, reduce the likelihood of heart attack and stroke, helps in controlling weight, increases bone strength, and is an essential nutrient for new mothers and newborns.

Mr Shelatkar, says, “Omega 3 is an integral part of cell membranes throughout the body and affects the function of the cell receptors in these membranes. They provide the starting point for making hormones that regulate blood clotting, contraction and relaxation of artery walls, and reduce inflammation.”

He added, “The best source for omega 3 fatty acids is fish like salmon, oysters, shrimps, and trout. For vegetarians, flaxseed, soy, walnuts, chia seeds, kidney beans, and pumpkin seeds are fine sources for the same. Additionally, the inclusion of omega-3 supplements in a diet is necessary to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle.”

Junk food has zero nutritional value and only adds up to your weight. Getting rid of them will be beneficial, learn how
In today’s fast-paced life junk foods have become a trend and have acquired a great part of our lives. With easy access to unhealthy food, it can be tempting to eat whatever is readily available. Avoiding junk food has benefits such as:

No junk food means no weight gain
Avoiding junk food can directly reduce the total number of calories one consumes during the entire day, which can help to shed some weight. In short, you end up consuming fewer calories which automatically lead to weight loss.

“When there is an elimination of junk food from the diet, there is more room for nutrient-dense foods that supply the vitamins and minerals that one needs for good health,” says Dr Suddhant Bhargava, fitness and nutritional scientist.

Integrative nutritionist, Payal Kothari, also talks about how consuming fresh fruits can help in reducing stress
Fibre-rich foods like sweet potatoes, mangoes, and avocados help in reducing inflammation caused due to stress. Consuming berries, herbs like ginger, mint tea with cinnamon powder is another way to destress yourself.

Plain rice and yoghurt also help in relieving stress. They are comfort foods that help in relaxing the digestive system as they are easy to digest and a good complex carb meal too.

Ms Kothari suggests that adding 1 tbsp of Cocoa powder in your smoothie can help you fight stress in a fun way. The polyphenols in the Cocoa will improve brain function, reduce mood swings, and lower heart attack risks.

So, now you know how you can balance it out with your diet. Play along with colourful fruits and avoid those binge sessions.