You want to shed a few kilos. You want to run for the bus without a bright red face. You may feel guilty after the greasy feeling of finishing a bucket of fried chicken. You may want to eat healthy, perhaps trying to eat from the different food groups.
Whatever your reason, deciding to be healthy is a great decision.
You decide to eat better. Googling “eating healthy” returns thousands of results. They all say something different – the latest superfood or the five foods you must avoid to lose five kilos in five days. Really?
It can be hard to know what nutrition advice to trust. You just want to be healthy.
Let’s go back to the basics
It shouldn’t be complicated but it can be. Should you cut out bread, sugar or eat 1200 calories a day?
If you want to be healthy, start eating a range of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, milk (& their alternatives) and lean meats & alternatives. This is the best way to ensure you’re on the way to meeting your daily nutrient requirements, without needing to know any numbers.
What does that look like? The right combination of nutrients looks different from person to person. However, it’s helpfully put into various food groups in The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating. This outlines the recommended servings for each food group.
Let’s break it down.
Fruit. Two Serves. This could be a banana with breakfast and an apple as a snack.
Vegetables. Six serves for men and five serves for women. Two cups of cooked veggies and one cup of salad is all that your body needs in a day. Try to eat more veggies with lots of different colours.
Grains & Cereals. Six serves. From a slice of bread or two Weetbix to half a cup of rice, each serve increases your fibre and help you feel full, especially when it’s wholegrain. Weetbix is a staple breakfast for me (or oats in winter!)
Milk, yoghurt, cheese & alternatives. Two and a half serves. A glass of milk, two slices of cheese or a tub of yoghurt is a serve. Good news for coffee lovers, that milk in your coffee counts towards your total dairy for the day.
Lean meats & alternatives. Three serves for men and two and a half for women. We don’t need as much meat as what we eat. One serve of red meat is the size of your palm, a serve of chicken the ¾ of your hand and fish the size of your hand. Choose the lean options (if you can afford it) like chicken breast, lean mince or steak without the fat. Don’t forget about eggs, nuts or tofu too.
*Note: recommended servings are for adults 19-50 years old.
It might seem like the obvious, boring, ‘textbook’ answer. But just because it’s classic doesn’t mean it’s outdated. This is the simplified version of over 55,000 studies in health and nutrition. You don’t need to cut out a whole food group to be healthy, in fact, you should be including a variety of food from each food group.
HOW to be healthier
It doesn’t matter whether you’re just looking to improve your already balanced diet, or if you can’t remember the last time you ate a carrot. These guidelines are great because it gives a snapshot of what an overall healthy diet could look like. You can start simple, pick one idea to try and work your way up from there. Here are a few of my ideas.
Principle: Eat plenty of plant based foods
- Have vegetables and dip as a snack & other healthy snacks
- Add one extra vegetable to your nightly meal
- Order a dish with vegetables next time you’re eating out (some is better than none!)
Principle: Eat a variety of grains, mainly wholegrain
- If you normally stick to white bread, try a wholemeal or multigrain option one day
- Find ways to prepare grains easy, like using a rice cooker or using couscous
Principle: Choose lean meats
- Cut the fat from your meat before you cook it.
- Take a smaller serving of meat (and increase your serving of vegetables)
These are a few of my suggestions. I would love to hear your ideas too. Please leave a comment so there are plenty of ideas for everyone.
Remember, eating healthy doesn’t have to be complicated. Taking one small step everyday towards being healthier will do wonders for your body!