Each and every year, tens of thousands of men and women will pick up a magazine, read a bit about the newest diet craze and embark on the latest in a long line of ultimately unworkable (and many times unhealthy) fad diet programs. In other words, a significant number of people sincerely interested in weight management give very little thought to a particular diet plan and truly do not understand the overall concept of developing a food intake and exercise program that will complement and enhance a healthy lifestyle.

Many men and women particularly find themselves attracted to the purportedly hottest dieting craze that shrewdly promises quick results. In many instances, the intended results are not even evident in the advertised period of time. On even more occasions, even if the promised weight loss results to occur with some degree of obvious speed, the lost pounds do not stay off over the course of any significant period of time. More importantly, the diet program itself can be unhealthy and even dangerous.

In the final analysis, there are certain elements that are common in each and every appropriate diet and exercise program. In other words, all healthy living and weight management programs share similar features. The program best suited for your own life should contain each of these elements within any prescribed regimen.

Balanced Diet

A balanced diet is one in which there is a regular intake of appropriate types and amounts of foods and beverages so that the nutritional and energy needs of the body is satisfied fully. In other words, a balanced diet is one in which a person consumes the right kinds and varieties of foods and beverages to provide for the optimal functioning of all elements of the body.

Generally speaking, eating food and consuming beverages derived from certain basic nutritional groupings results in an appropriately balanced diet. On a daily basis, a person desiring to develop healthy eating and living skills will consume food and beverages from each of the elementary “food groups.”

Meat group (meat and meat substitutes):


  • chicken, fish, beef, pork, lamb
  • legumes, beans and peas
  • nuts and seedsDairy group (milk and related products):
  • milk
  • cheese
  • yogurtFruit and vegetable group:
  • fresh fruits
  • fresh vegetablesGrain group (breads and cereals):
  • whole grain breads
  • enriched breads
  • rice
  • pasta

Consider Portion Size

One major problem facing the typical person in many parts of the world today involves portion size. Even when a person is eating the right kinds of food and drinking the right kinds of beverages, at times a person will consume far too much of a good thing.

On the other hand, a significant number of men and women not only eat and drink far too much on any given day, they include an abundance of unhealthy items in their diets as well. Overall, a person wishing to maintain his or her weight should take in approximately 2,000 calories a day. (Of course, there are variations up or down to this rounded number and a person needs to consult with his or her doctor before embarking on any dieting and exercise program.)

Using the 2,000 calorie diet as a bit of a benchmark, a person should eat two cups of fruit and two and a half cups of vegetables per day. A person should eat three to four one-ounce servings from the grain group each day. Additionally, a person committed to healthy eating should consume three cups per day of fat-free or low-fat dairy products.

In many families, meats are made the focus of the meal. In reality, meat servings should be much smaller than they are in most settings. A healthy diet can include a couple of servings of lean meat daily. Each serving should be between three and four ounces in size.

A healthy, balanced diet should be low in saturated and trans fats. Indeed, trans fats should be avoided all together and saturated fats should be restricted to fewer than ten percent of the total daily caloric intake.

Additionally, a healthy, responsible diet should be low in cholesterol, refined sugars, salt, caffeine and alcohol. Indeed, many experts recommend avoiding refined sugars all together. Moreover, while there may be health benefits to drinking certain types of wine in moderation, many experts agree that a woman should drink no more than one alcoholic beverage in a given day while a man can consume two such beverages.

Water, Water, Water

More often than not, a person is not getting enough water in his or her diet. Nearly all experts agree that, at a minimum, a person should consume eight eight-ounce glasses of water each and every day. However, it is important to note that this is the base recommendation.

If a person is carrying around more weight, it will be important for him or her to drink more water. For every two pounds that a person weighs over 160 pounds, he or she should drink an additional ounce of water above and beyond the referenced eight glass minimum. Additionally, if a person is physically active, he or she must consume more water to make up for the water lost through exercise.

Exercise Regularly and Responsibly

A weight management program is incomplete without an exercise component. Of course, an exercise program needs to be individualized for a particular person’s needs, desires, abilities and goals. However, generally speaking, a person should engage in exercise at least three times a week for at least thirty minutes each session. In time, a person may be interested in increasing the amount of time that he or she spends in exercising and in fitness training.

An exercise regimen should include three primary elements:


  • aerobic exercise
  • strength training
  • stretchingBefore You Start, Consult Your Doctor

    No person should ever commence a diet or exercise program without first consulting with a physician. In the final analysis, meeting with a doctor before the commencement of a diet and exercise program will work to ensure that an appropriate regimen is undertaken and pursued.