A regular diet is one that gives a person all of the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients he or she needs to stay healthy. The exact foods included in a regular diet vary, but typically contain choices from each of the five main food groups. Several well-known organizations promote healthy eating plans that can all help a person maintain a regular diet.
The body needs certain basic nutrients in order to function properly. For example, the sugars found in carbohydrates are needed for energy and the fiber is needed for good digestion. Similarly, proteins and fat found in meat, fish and poultry are needed for muscle building and repair, as well as the proper functioning of brain and nerve cells. Vitamins and minerals are also important. Calcium is a key component of bone formation, and iron and vitamin B12 are critical to the develop and function of red blood cells.
Following a regular diet is generally considered the best way to supply the body with all of the vitamins, minerals and nutrients it requires. A regular diet typically combines a variety of grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy products, and meat, fish and beans. No single food or group contains all the required nutrients the body needs to function, which is why eating a variety of items helps ensure all nutritional needs are met. This also includes eating different types of food within a food group, such as vegetables of all colors.
Individuals who cannot or chose not to eat animal-based products can still have a regular dieting by substituting for plant-based calcium- and protein-rich food items. For example, a vegan may replace milk with a calcium-enriched soy beverage and use beans, nuts and seeds in place of lean meats, poultry and fish. Individuals who eliminate entire food groups or types of food without finding appropriate substitutes typically are not able to obtain all of the nutrients the body needs. For example, those who follow diets that eliminate all grains typically find it difficult to obtain the amount of fiber the body needs for proper digestion. Those who eliminate all dairy without adding other calcium-rich foods typically do not get the recommended amount of calcium for proper bone health.
There are numerous health organizations that promote certain healthy eating plans, many of which subscribe to the elements of a regular diet. For example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s dietary guidelines promote eating a variety of foods in moderation to help ensure adequate nutrient intake without over consumption of calories. In general, the plan allows for customization based on age, activity levels and food restrictions, such as the exclusion of meat and other animal products. The American Heart Association and British Dietary Association offer similar guidance in each organization's respective healthy eating plans.