Eating a healthy and balanced diet is important to achieve and maintain good health, a healthy body weight and to help you feel your best. A healthy and balanced diet is about eating a wide variety of foods from all the food groups and in the right proportions. Try to choose a variety of different foods from the five main food groups to get a wide range of nutrients.
The Five Food Groups are:
- Fruit and Vegetables
- Carbohydrates like potatoes, bread, rice, pasta and other starchy carbohydrates.
- Beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins.
- Dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese) & Alternatives
- Fats & Oils (e.g. spreads and olive oil)
Fruits & Vegetables, How Much?
Aim to include five portions of fresh fruits and vegetables a day. They are the best source of vitamins and minerals and fibre, and should make up over a third of the food you eat each day.
What is a portion size?
- 80g of preferably fresh, or canned or frozen fruit and vegetables
- 30g of dried fruit – which should be kept to mealtimes
- 150ml glass of a low sugar smoothie
- 1 piece of fruit such as a small apple, banana, pear or similar-sized fruit
- A slice of pineapple or melon is also one portion
- Three heaped tablespoons of vegetables is also one portion.
A useful way to improve your portion control is to start using a digital food scale when planning your meals.
Starchy Foods and Carbohydrates
Starchy foods should make up just over a third of everything you eat. Make sure to go for wholegrain or wholemeal varieties of starchy foods, such as brown rice, wholewheat pasta, and brown, whole meal or higher fibre bread. You can learn more about rice and carbohydrates in this article here.
Many people often think that meat is the primary source of protein to stay healthy. We are happy to say that protein can be found in a variety of foods – not just meat.
Beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other sources of protein are essential for the body to grow and repair itself. These foods are also good sources of a range of vitamins and minerals.
While meat is a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals, including iron, zinc and B vitamins, we prefer to be as plant based as possible. Try to eat as little red and processed meats as possible. If you do eat meat, choose lean cuts of meat and skinless poultry whenever possible.
Eggs and fish are also great sources of protein, and contain many vitamins and minerals. Oily fish is particularly rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Aim to eat at least two portions of fish a week, including one portion of oily fish to get all those wholesome omegas.
Pulses, including beans, peas and lentils, are naturally very low in fat and high in fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals.
Nuts are high in fibre, and unsalted nuts make a good snack. But they do still contain high levels of fat, so eat them in moderation.
Milk, Dairy And Alternatives
Milk and dairy foods, such as cheese and yoghurt, are good sources of protein. They contain calcium, which helps keep your bones healthy. Go for lower fat and lower sugar products whenever possible. There are many vegan alternatives now for dairy products. Read the labels to avoid substitutes that are over processed or have too much added sugars.
Fats & Oils
Some fat in the diet is essential, but try to avoid eating too much saturated fat and remember to avoid trans fats completely. Trans fats are made through a chemical process of the hydrogenation of oils. They are most commonly found in things like vegetable shortening, some margarines, crackers, cookies, and snack foods. It is so important to eat fats that are healthy. Yes, there are healthy fats like the monounsaturated fats found in olives, peanuts, sesames, avocados and olives.
If you have a new diabetes diagnosis and you are unsure of how to manage this change in your life, a Nutrition for Diabetes Management Health Coaching Session can help. We will guide you to manage your nutrition and understand the fundamental principles of managing diabetes nutrition.
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