People are often shocked when we prescribe some sweets as part of a “balanced diet.” we are not saying that cake is more nutritious than kale, just that a bit of cake won’t kill you. And, allowing yourself some of the so called “bad” foods has been proven to keep most people from overindulging in these foods. What is the quickest recipe for binging when dessert rolls around? Commit to never eat dessert again. Then you’ll really want dessert and you’ll eat too much dessert. Don’t make cake (or your indulgence of choice) forbidden, just watch your portion size and frequency of consumption. You can have something sweet (or savory or fried) each day if you have just a little bit. Enjoy the foods you love with a focus on moderation and the stress of eating will lessen tremendously
Food variety and a healthy diet
Food variety means eating a wide variety of foods from each of the five food groups, in the amounts recommended. Eating many different foods helps maintain a healthy and interesting diet which provides a range of different nutrients to the body. Eating a variety of foods promotes good health and can help reduce the risk of disease.
Five major food groups
The five food groups are:
- Vegetables and legumes/beans
- Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, legumes/beans
- Grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties
- Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives, mostly reduced fat.
Foods are grouped together because they provide similar amounts of key nutrients. For example, key nutrients of the milk, yoghurt, cheese and alternatives group include calcium and protein, while the fruit group is a good source of vitamins, especially vitamin C.
Choose a variety of foods
Eating a varied, well-balanced diet means eating a variety of foods from each food groups daily, in the recommended amounts. It is also important to choose a variety of foods from within each food group because different foods provide different types and amounts of key nutrients. Choosing a variety of foods will help to make your meals interesting, so that you don’t get bored with your diet.
Some foods do not fit into the five food groups because they are not necessary for a healthy diet. These foods are called ‘discretionary choices’ and they should only be eaten occasionally. They tend to be too high in either energy (kilojoules), saturated fat, added sugars, added salt or alcohol, and have low levels of important nutrients like fibre.
Examples of ‘discretionary choices’ or occasional foods are:
- Sweet biscuits, cakes, desserts and pastries
- Processed meats and fattier/salty sausages, savoury pastries and pies, commercial burgers with a high fat and/or salt content
- Sweetened condensed milk
- Ice cream and other ice confections
- Confectionary and chocolate
- Commercially fried foods
- Potato chips, crisps and other fatty and/or salty snack foods including some savoury biscuits
- Cream, butter and spreads which are high in saturated fats
- Sugar-sweetened soft drinks and cordials, sports and energy drinks and alcoholic drinks
Small allowance for healthy fats
Unsaturated fats are an important part of a healthy diet. The two main types of unsaturated fats are monounsaturated fats (found in olive and canola oil, avocados, cashews and almonds) and polyunsaturated fats like omega-3 fats (found in oily fish) and omega-6 fats (found in safflower and soybean oil and Brazil nuts). These fats can help reduce the risk of heart disease and lower cholesterol levels when they replace saturated fats in the diet. The Australian Dietary Guidelines include a small allowance for healthy fats each day (around 1–2 tablespoons for adults and less for children). The best way to include healthy fats in your diet is to replace saturated fat that you may currently be eating (such as butter and cream) with a healthier, unsaturated fat option (such as polyunsaturated margarine or olive oil)
Include the five food groups in your diet
It’s not hard to include foods from the five food groups into snacks and meals. Some suggestions include:
- Vegetables and legumes – raw or cooked vegetables can be used as a snack food or as a part of lunch and dinner. Salad vegetables can be used as a sandwich filling. Vegetable soup can make a healthy lunch. Stir-fries, vegetable patties and vegetable curries make nutritious evening meals. Try raw vegetables like carrot and celery sticks for a snack ‘on the run’.
- Fruit – this is easy to carry as a snack and can be included in most meals. For example, try a banana with your breakfast cereal, an apple for morning tea and add some berries in your yoghurt for an afternoon snack. Fresh whole fruit is recommended over fruit juice and dried fruit. Fruit juice contains less fibre than fresh fruit and both fruit juice and dried fruit, and are more concentrated sources of sugar and energy. Dried fruit can also stick to teeth, which can increase the risk of dental caries.
- Bread, cereals, rice, pasta and noodles – add rice, pasta or noodles to serves of protein and vegetables for an all-round meal. There are many varieties of these to try. Where possible, try to use wholegrains in breads and cereals.
- Lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, legumes and tofu – these can all provide protein. It’s easy to include a mixture of protein into snacks and meals. Try adding lean meat to your sandwich or have a handful of nuts as a snack. You can also add legumes to soups or stews for an evening meal.
- Milk, yoghurt and cheese – try adding yogurt to breakfast cereal with milk, or using cottage cheese as a sandwich filling. Shavings of parmesan or cheddar can be used to top steamed vegetables or a salad. Use mostly reduced fat products.
We hope you have a healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet each day!!!