Ensuring we meet our daily nutritional needs can be challenging yet gratifying in its own way. Proper nutrition can improve both our physical and mental health, and a good diet should be balanced, nutritious, and filled with a variety of foods. Finding the right balance of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients for yourself is an individualistic journey that may take time. But, in order for us to embark on this journey, it’s imperative that we know what’s the basis of proper nutrition and how we can meet our daily needs.

Before we dive in, some of us have been exposed to the old saying ”food is fuel,” but how often do we contemplate the depth of this expression?

How Can Proper Nutrition Fuel Me?

Getting adequate nutrition is the best way to naturally fuel our minds and bodies. Studies show that our diets can have a huge effect on our physical, mental, and emotional states. There’s a link between gut and the brain, called the gut-brain axis, and this intricate connection allows the body and mind to communicate with one another to sustain us the best way they can. For instance, eating foods that stimulate the gut microbiome promotes the production of various neurotransmitters, including dopamine and serotonin – which in turn can influence our moods, appetites, and our sleep quality. 

Another example of this marvelous integrative relationship can be seen in the gut bacteria! When it ferments fiber, it releases short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) which can reduce inflammation, protect us against cardiovascular disease, lower our risks against cancer, and heighten the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that is important for learning and memory. 

By following a diet that fills our nutritional gaps, not only can we reduce our risks against a plethora of illnesses, including cardiovascular and cardiometabolic diseases, as well as cancer, we can ensure our minds and bodies are functioning at their optimum level. Eating a healthy diet is also important to regulate body weight and reduce our chances at developing any long-term health problems. To get started, it’s essential that we know what merits a balanced and healthy diet.

What Does Balanced Nutrition Look Like?

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, setting a healthy nutritional foundation means figuring out your caloric needs and making healthier choices throughout your life. While everyone has their own individual needs, there are a few key categories to consider when it comes to your diet:

Fruits and Vegetables

A higher intake of fruits and vegetables is associated with a lowered risk of premature mortality, cancer, and cardiovascular disease — and could prevent about 7.8 million deaths worldwide each year. Including plenty of fruits and veggies in your diet is also linked to a better state of mental health and can help you reach your daily fiber intake. Whether you get your fruits and veggies from the supermarket or the farmer’s market, the most important thing is to gather a variety. To ensure you get enough fruits and veggies, get creative. Try different ways of cooking your favorite vegetables — roast, boil, or sauté. Add fresh fruit as a side to your breakfast, in a yogurt bowl, or as a topping for oatmeal or muesli. 


Consumption of whole grains is linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Reach for whole-grain or whole-wheat bread, cereals, and grains, like rice or barley. If you prefer hot breakfasts, oatmeal is a great choice.


Choosing to include dairy products in your diet means you’ll likely be getting enough calcium to protect your bones. If you don’t consume dairy products, try non-dairy options, like soy or oat milk, and speak to your doctor about filling any potential nutritional gaps. Yogurt, milk, kefir, cheese, and eggs all contain plenty of calcium and other nutrients.


Dietary protein is a key nutrient in our diet and can help to improve our overall health and prevent early mortality. You don’t need as much protein in your diet as you might think, but it’s important to get an adequate amount to support metabolic functions. If you’re looking to lower your intake of animal proteins and red meat, make sure to opt for other sources such as hummus, soy products, beans, or legumes.

Healthy Fats

Unlike the common belief that fats are unhealthy, they actually make up an important part in our diet for optimal health. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, for example, are important for cellular functions, regulate our inflammatory processes, blood pressure and clotting, and nervous system, and even have antioxidant properties. Avocados, nuts, fatty fish, seeds, and oils such as olive, peanut, and sesame are all good sources of fats. 

Choosing to eat healthier foods isn’t just good for your body, it’ll improve your mood and help you feel amazing too. It’s important to crowd out your diet with nutritional foods, so the less nutritious foods make up a smaller portion of your diet. Current guidelines recommend limiting added sugars, sodium, saturated fats, and trans fats, as well as drinking in moderation. 

How Can I Improve and Meet My Nutritional Needs?

There are many ways to meet your nutritional needs according to your lifestyle, but it’s best to start by consulting a nutritionist or dietitian. Other ways you can work on proper nutrition are as follows:

Keep a Food Journal 

Writing down your meals and keeping track of what goes into your body can be empowering for some, but overwhelming for others. It’s a great idea if you suspect you may have a food allergy or might not be getting enough of a certain nutrient or vitamin. Your health provider may even request this, depending on your individual needs.

Consider Your Lifestyle

No matter your lifestyle and preferences, it’s important to know how your choices affect your nutrition. Take a few moments to reflect on your current habits, whether they seem to be related to nutrition, and try to analyze which ones you’d like to change and why. Everything in our lives is deeply interlinked, so being able to recognize which habits affect how we approach our food, and even contemplating our emotional and physical states with certain food choices, can factor into empowering us to pursue a better lifestyle.

When We Eat Well, We Live Well

Our nutritional habits can directly impact other aspects of our physical, emotional, and social lives. Finding the right balance of healthy nutrients that best fits our individual lifestyle choices and demands is the way to go, not only to be satisfied with our bodies but also to improve and strengthen our overall health. This balance may not always feel easy to find or maintain, but through self-awareness, patience, and by paying attention to how your eating habits influences other aspects of our lives, we can set and sustain positive behaviors that serve to boost our health and happiness! For more information on nutrition and a balanced diet, book a session with one of the Holisticly Nutritionists today!