Q&A with Dr. Dae - What is Your Idea of a Balanced Diet?

This is an excerpt from a interview conducted between Dr. Daemon Jones and a sophomore from the Marietta College's McDonough Leadership program. She was asked to give her perspective on the following questions for an educational video focused on childhood obesity with an emphasis on how to use personal lifestyle change to effectively address this problem. Question:

What food groups are obese people most starved of and most desperately need to replace? In other words, what is your idea of a balanced diet? Sufficient vegetables, fruits, nuts, unprocessed nutrient-robbed breads/grains, limited meats/animal products, limited oils, sugars, etc?

Answer from Dr. Daemon Jones:

What I find when I am working with people that are obese is that they don’t have a real sense of how the foods that they eat are causing them to be obese.  I know that might sound ridiculous but the truth is people are not as educated about their foods because most people are not very involved with preparing their foods. They don’t know about the hidden sugar, salt and preservatives that are in their foods. Most people eat foods that are prepared in manufacturing plants. These are often referred to as highly processed foods.  Or people eat out at restaurants, fast food or carry-out places several times per week.  These foods usually are higher in calories and lower in nutrients than if you prepared the same foods in the your home.

I think that people are most starved for vegetables, hands down.  Vegetables are the most essential food that most people don’t get enough of in our diets.  Vegetables are a great fiber source, they contain sustainable energy in the body and they have vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that support health and vitality.  Vegetables can be made in so many delicious ways that people can find varieties and recipes that can make it a happy and healthy part of their diets. Most people  do not eat between 8-10 serving of vegetables per day.  If people were eating multiple serving of vegetables, they would feel fuller and not eat as many junk foods.

When I think about a balanced diet that would support a healthy weight, it would include a whole foods diet.  Whole foods are foods that are eaten close to their natural state.  These foods are not highly processed and do not have additives and preservatives in them.  A whole foods diet is based on eating fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, nuts, seeds, whole grains, dairy, beans and legumes.  Lean proteins are any animal protein with the least amount of fat so it can include fish, red meat, white meat or poultry.  Whole grains are grains that still have the fiber or husk on them.  Brown rice is an example of a whole grain. White rice is not a whole grain.

I ask people to fill and eat 50% of their plate with fruits and vegetables, 25% of their plate is whole grains and the last 25% is protein.  I also recommend drinking generally at least 60 ounces or more of water daily depending on your weight

When people focus on this type of eating they generally experience the results of weight loss and increased energy.  It sometimes surprises people to realize that protein is not the biggest portion of the plate.  Eating a higher percentage of plant-based foods has been researched as a healthier dietary plan.  It is important to note that this daily plan doesn’t include sugar foods or drinks.  These are for special occasions not daily foods.