A good nutrition and your health can’t be becoming a short-term fix as opposed to a lifelong journey. When you learn about the different food groups, what your body needs and what will keep you feeling energized, you’ll know what’s good for you and what healthy means to you.
What Is A Balanced Plate?
A balanced plate comprises protein, fats and carbohydrate (macronutrients) and vitamins and minerals (micronutrients). Put simply, in order to eat well and sustain healthy eating patterns, we want to ensure our breakfast, lunch and dinner is made up of:
- • A palm-sized portion of protein to build and maintain muscles
- • A cupped hand-sized portion of carbohydrates to provide energy for our cells
- • A thumb-sized portion of fat to help absorb key vitamins and minerals
- • Two handfuls of green veggies to provide loads of key vitamins, minerals and fiber.
Protein helps to build muscle. It also helps to keep us feeling full, so we should eat protein with every meal. Examples of good sources of protein include red meat, white meat, fish, lentils, beans, eggs, nuts and seeds.
Fats are high in energy and help our bodies absorb necessary vitamins and minerals. We need fat in our diets to provide certain essential fatty acids. Fat is not the enemy, but as it provides lots of energy, we don’t need very much of it just a thumb-sized portion at each meal. Think a nice drizzle of olive oil, half an avocado or a handful of seeds and nuts. We need to be mindful of fatty foods such as full-fat cream, cakes, cookies, pies, chocolate or too many pizzas! This is because these foods contain trans and saturated fats, which are high in cholesterol and can increase the risk of heart disease and other illnesses.
Carbohydrates provide energy for our cells. Carbohydrates come in three forms: starch, fiber and sugar.
• Starch foods
Think bread, potatoes, pasta, wholegrain foods. Wholegrain varieties (brown bread, brown rice, wholewheat pasta) tend to be preferable as they are less processed and are good sources of fiber, which is good for our health and energy levels. Starchy foods, particularly wholegrain varieties, release energy slowly, keeping us fuller for longer that’s why we should not cut out carbs!
The carbs we eat, especially wholegrain carbs, contain fiber. Fiber is heath for our digestion and can help prevent certain health problems, such as type-2 diabetes and heart disease. It also helps us feel fuller for longer. Think wholegrains at breakfast and lunch like porridge oats and brown rice and loads of veggies at dinner, like broccoli, aubergine, courgettes, peppers and leafy greens.
Let me start by saying there are naturally occurring sugars in most of the foods we eat. From fruit to pasta, there is sugar in all of them. This does not make these foods “bad”, it’s just another type of energy our bodies need to process. However, we do need to be mindful of added sugars. Think fruit juice, chocolate, cake, syrups and pasta sauces (many processed foods contain added sugar). Added sugar can cause an imbalance on our plates – what we want is to lead a balanced and healthy lifestyle with a good amount of protein, carbs and fats.Extracted from Happy Healthy Strong: The secret to staying fit for life by Krissy Cela. Published by Aster