Guide to Healthy Balanced Meals
The saying “you are what you eat” rings true when it comes to the impact of nutrition on health. What we choose to put into our bodies will greatly influence the way we feel, our mood and energy levels, how we perform mentally in school and work, and sometimes the way we look. Making positive changes and healthy choices now can have lasting effects on long-term health.
Healthy eating is not about strict dietary limitations, staying unrealistically thin, or depriving yourself of the foods you love. Rather, it’s about feeling great, having more energy, improving your outlook, and stabilizing your mood.
Healthy Balanced meals means eating a wide variety of foods from each of the five food groups, in the amounts recommended.
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.
These food groups make up the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating. Best of all, healthy eating doesn’t have to be hard if you follow these seven golden rules:
- Drink plenty of water
- Eat more vegetables and fruit
- Watch how much you eat - even foods that are good for us, when eaten in large portions, can lead to weight gain
- Eat less processed food
- Eat regular meals – don’t skip meals – and always start the day with a healthy breakfast (e.g. a bowl of high fibre cereal with sliced banana and low fat milk)
- Restrict your alcohol intake
- Remember that some foods are high in added fat, salt and sugar and are best eaten only sometimes or in small amounts. Examples include lollies, chocolate, biscuits, cakes, pastries, soft drinks, chips, pies, sausage rolls and other takeaways.
- Add fruit and yoghurt to low fat milk and blend them together to make a great tasting smoothie.
- A slice of wholegrain bread or raisin toast with a healthy spread such as avocado or low-fat cream cheese, makes a filling, healthy snack.
- A piece of fruit – like a banana or apple – can make a great "on the run" snack.
- Instead of reaching for a chocolate bar or packet of chips, try vegetable sticks with low-fat hummus.
- An occasional handful of unsalted nuts or dried fruit makes a nutritious snack.
- Grab a tub of natural low-fat yoghurt and add your own fruit.
- Air-popped popcorn with a sprinkling of salt makes a great afternoon snack.
- When the weather is hot, fruits such as oranges and grapes make delicious frozen snacks
And lastly, eating while multitasking, whether working through lunch or watching TV while eating dinner, often leads us to eat more. On the other hand, eating "mindfully," savouring every mouthful, enhances the experience of eating and keeps us aware of how much we take in. Mindful eating is being present, moment by moment, for each sensation that happens during eating, such as chewing, tasting and swallowing.
Masters of Nutrition & Dietetics | PGD Public Health