You probably eat 3, 4 or more times each day. Sometimes you eat when you are hungry and, at other times just because you feel like it! Before you start on your next meal or snack, stop to think what your food choice will do to you. Will it nourish or punish your body?
Your habitual food choices can either promote your health or increase your risk for developing chronic lifestyle related diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and high blood cholesterol. So, do yourself a favour and eat wisely every day.
Here are six simple strategies to balance your diet and achieve great nutrition.
Use My Healthy Plate
There are so many types of food you can eat each day and you have to make the right choices to stay well nourished. There is no one food that can provide all the nutrients your body needs. You have to eat a wide variety of food, all in moderation and in the right balance.
My Healthy Plate serves as a guide to help you plan a healthy diet. Follow it and you will achieve a well-balanced diet that provides the nutrients you need, in the right amounts, each day.
Brown Rice and Wholemeal Bread (5-7 Servings a Day)
Example of 1 Serving:
- 2 slices bread (60g)
- ½ bowl* rice (100g)
- ½ bowl noodles or beehoon (100g)
- 4 plain biscuits (40g)
- 1 thosai (60g)
- 2 small chapatis (60g)
- 1 large potato (180g)
- 1 ½ cup plain cornflakes (40g)
Fruit (2 Servings a Day)
Example of 1 Serving:
- 1 small apple, orange, pear or mango (130g)
- 1 wedge pineapple, papaya or watermelon (130g)
- 10 grapes or longans (50g)
- 1 medium banana
- ¼ cup*** dried fruit (40g)
- 1 glass pure fruit juice (250ml)
Vegetables (2 Servings a Day)
Example of 1 Serving :
- ¾ mug** cooked leafy or non-leafy vegetables (100g)
- ¼ round plate+ cooked vegetables
- 150g raw leafy vegetables
- 100g raw non-leafy vegetables
Meat and Others (2-3 Servings a Day)
Example of 1 Serving :
- 1 palm-sized piece fish, lean meat or skinless poultry (90g)
- 2 small blocks soft beancurd (170g)
- ¾ cup cooked pulses (e.g. lentils, peas, beans) (120g)
- 5 medium prawns (90g)
- 3 eggs (150g)++
- 2 glasses milk (500 ml)
- 2 slices of cheese (40g)
* rice bowl ** 250ml mug *** 250ml cup +10 inch plate ++ While 3 eggs are equivalent in protein content to other items listed under the Meat and Others group, egg yolks are high in cholesterol. Thus, eat no more than 4 egg yolks per week.
Wonder why there is a range of servings recommended for the Brown Rice and Wholemeal Bread & Meat and Others food groups? Well, it is to reflect the different needs of individuals. Smaller and more sedentary individuals are better off sticking to the lower end of the range of recommendations, while bigger and more active people get to eat more servings or portions from these food groups.
Eat enough grains
Whole-grain foods such as brown rice, wholemeal bread and rolled oats contain vitamins (vitamins B and E), minerals (iron, zinc and magnesium), phytochemicals (lignans, phytosterols) and inulin (a type of dietary fibre) which are good for you. Refined grains such as white rice or white bread have gone through processing which removes the valuable nutrients that whole-grains have to offer. Consuming whole-grains over refined grains can reduce the risk of developing heart disease and diabetes and helps you manage your weight as you get hungry less easily.
Include fruit and vegetables
Naturally low in fat and rich in vitamins, minerals and fibre, fruit and vegetables add colour, texture and flavour to your diet. With so many fruit and vegetables in the market, mix and match your choices to get maximum benefit. Remember not to overcook vegetables, and go for whole fruit rather than juices.
Eat colourful fruit and vegetables
Beyond the greens that Mom and Dad told you to eat up, nutritionists now want you to add more colours to your plate with fruit and vegetables. The natural pigments in fruit and vegetables bring a host of benefits to the human body, protecting us from many common diseases such as heart disease and cancer.
Get sufficient protein
Protein-rich food such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, milk, yogurt, cheese, lentils, legumes, nuts and seeds are placed at the third level of the pyramid. This means that while we need these nutrient-rich food, the number of servings recommended is smaller than that for grain food, fruit, and vegetables. To make a healthier choice, select items lower in fat and cholesterol.
Focus on calcium
Calcium strengthens bones and teeth. Adequate intake throughout life reduces the risk of osteoporosis. The best sources of calcium are dairy food milk, yogurt, and cheese. For those who cannot stomach milk and milk products, eat small fish with edible bones, tofu and green leafy vegetables. Our supermarkets are also teeming with innovative calcium-fortified food such as milk, soymilk, juices, bread, and biscuits. Add these to your grocery cart to top up your daily calcium intake.
Choose Healthier Oils
My Healthy Plate reminds us to use healthier oils in moderation. Pay particular attention to selecting healthier unsaturated fats and oils and minimise intake of saturated and trans fats.
Avoid or minimise alcohol
If you enjoy socializing over a drink with your friends, set your limit. Aim for no more that two drinks per day if you are a woman and three drinks if you are a man. A standard drink is can (220 ml) of beer, 1 glass (100 ml) of wine or 1 nip (30 ml) of spirits. Beer, wine, and hard liquors contain alcohol, a concentrated source of calories. Regular drinking binges make it harder to keep your weight down.
- Use My Healthy Plate to achieve a balanced diet that provides all the nutrients you need each day.
- For better nourishment, eat a wide variety of food and remember to include wholegrains, fruit, vegetables and calcium-rich food.
- Select healthier food choices that are lower in salt, added sugar and fat (especially saturated and trans fat). Limit alcohol intake as well.