Most of us have heard of the phrase a balanced diet but it is not always easy to understand exactly what it really means. Are you currently having a well-balanced diet? What exactly should we be eating on a daily or weekly basis in order to have a balanced diet? Let’s find out from Soulfood’s Nutritionist, Wai Swan.
A balanced diet means eating a wide variety of foods in the right proportions and that gives your body the nutrients it needs to function correctly. It is important because your organs and tissues need proper nutrition to work effectively. Without good nutrition, your body is more prone to disease, infection, fatigue, and poor performance.Wai Swan, Nutritionist from SoulFood
If we can balance the major calorie-providing nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats and protein, then they should provide all of the other smaller elements of a healthy diet without us having to worry too much about them. These smaller elements are called the ‘micro-nutrients’ – otherwise known as vitamins, minerals as well as dietary fibre.
What’s on your plate?
The healthy food plate below shows the ideal proportions of food to eat each day for an average adult. Of course, we don’t mean by literally all of them. Let me break it down for you!
33% of fruits and vegetables
These are the richest providers of vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre. At least five portions every day are preferred and the ideal balance would be two fruits and three vegetables.
Here’s a tip: try to choose a rainbow of different colours to ensure you get a complete range of nutrients.
30% of starchy food
Starchy food is a really important part of a healthy diet and should make up just over a third of the food we eat. Choose higher-fibre, wholegrain varieties when you can by purchasing wholewheat pasta or brown rice. Wholegrain food contains more fibre than white or refined starchy food, and often more of other nutrients as well. Our bodies also digest wholegrain food slower so it can help us feel full for much longer.
20% of lean meat, eggs, fish, nuts and seeds
These are important sources of protein. Try to vary your choices within this section. It is good to aim for at least two portions of fish a week (including oily fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, herring and anchovies as they are rich in omega 3 fatty acids), but don’t forget to also include your meals with pulses such as beans or lentils, or nuts and seeds.
12% of dairy or soy protein
If you’re not lactose intolerant, do include some milk and dairy food (or dairy alternatives) – such as cheese and yoghurt into your daily diet. These are good sources of protein and vitamins & calcium (which helps to keep our bones strong). However, cream and cream cheese aren’t included as they contain little protein and lots of saturated fats! Go for lower fat and lower sugar products whenever possible.
5% high fat or high sugar foods
Yup, these are what might be called ‘junk foods’ and should be eaten in a very small amount (or not at all, if possible). This section includes sugar, sugary drinks, cakes, biscuits, pastries and confectionery.
There you have it. A little insight into what a balanced diet is all about. Remember, moderation is key. So do allow yourself to indulge once in a while. Do reach out to Soulfood for their in-house nutritionist and dietician for advice. You can call them at 03-23850021.
The above article was written by Wai Swan, Nutritionist from SoulFood.