The cure for eating better isn’t deprivation, blandness, or a strict diet. The answer to eating healthily is incorporating good habits into your life. The key to eating right as well as maintaining weight is a plan that fits your life.
The Dietary Guidelines issued by health and fitness departments around the world guide us on how to eat a balanced diet daily. Here’s what these guidelines say:
Eat a range of foods from all food groups and maintain portion sizes.
Make starchy foods the basis of most meals. Whole wheat options – such as brown bread, brown rice, oats in addition to bran flakes – have more fibre, ensure that you are fuller for longer, maintain blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol, and prevent constipation. Take a fist-sized amount of cooked starch per meal and eat at regular intervals.
Eat more fresh fruit and vegetables. Aim for three to five portions of vegetables and two to four fruits per day, which will provide enough fibre, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals to keep your immune system healthy. Avoid fruit juice and dried fruit, since they are high in sugar. Rather eat fresh fruit as snacks or add them to breakfast. Aim for ½ cup cooked vegetables or 1 cup raw vegetables per meal. When you eat out, pick salad or vegetables instead of fries.
Eat legumes regularly. Beans, peas, lentils and soya are good, economical sources of protein and fibre. They are also low in fat. Try to have a vegetarian meal at least once a week. For variety, add lentils to stews or salads and cook them with your rice.
Meat, eggs and milk can be enjoyed daily. Limit portions to the size of your palm. Cut off all visible fat and skin. Choose leaner and lower fat options. Avoid frying – opt for grilled, stewed or baked meals.
Eat fat sparingly. Choose products with less fat. Look for labels like “low fat,” “fat free” or “light”. When cooking, limit the amount of fat or oils you use to a finger-tip amount. Avoid fried and processed foods and skip salad dressings. Consume sources of healthier fats in small amounts, e.g. olives, avocado and nuts.
Use salt sparingly in general and when you cook. Avoid products that list “sodium” within the first five ingredients. Look for hidden salt in soups, sauce packets, energy drinks and savoury snacks.
Drink lots of clean, safe water. Tap water is safe to use; it is unnecessary to buy bottled water. Avoid flavoured waters, which may be high in sugar.
If you use alcohol, use it sparingly, since it is high in energy and not nutritious. Restrict alcohol to one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men. One drink is equal to either one 330 ml beer, one shot of hard liquor, or a small glass of wine.
Utilise sugary foods as well as drinks sparingly and with meals only. Avoid adding sugar to tea and coffee. Skip sugary drinks e.g. hot chocolate, cool drinks, energy drinks. Only eat small amounts of sweets and chocolates once a week or less.
Lastly, be active. Include some form of physical activity into your daily routine!
The trick is to disregard all the tempting claims on the fronts of nutrition food packages―low-fat, low-net-carbs, zero trans fats!―as a number are empty, some are unregulated, and some are deceptive. Instead, cast a serious eye over the nutrition-facts box. Look primarily at calories, saturated fat, trans fat, as well as sodium. These two are represented in grams and milligrams, respectively, and as a percentage of the advised limit of what we should be eating in a day; calories and trans fats are listed just as amounts. If the numbers seem to be high, have a look at a few competing products to see if you are able to do better. Note that you may be required to multiply if there’s more than one serving in a package and you genuinely expect to eat two or three servings. Also read through the figures for fibre, magnesium, potassium, calcium as well as vitamins A, C, and E. These are the nutrients you need to be eating more of daily.