To ensure you are getting a balanced diet with the adequate amount of nutrition daily means taking a look at the food diversity and serving size on your plate.
Use the following guidelines as a checklist to review your current eating habits;
- Choose a medium size plate or bowl to begin with (rather than a small or large one) so that you can get a gauge of portions.
- Start by filling half of your plate with vegetables (non-starchy) or salad including green leaf varieties. Two open handfuls is a serve of vegetables or salad.
- Add 1x portion size of protein, which is about the size of your palm (see options below)
- Add 1x portion size of complex carbohydrates, which is about the size of your fist (see options below)
- Add healthy fat, which a serve is about the size of the top joint tip of your thumb.
Fruit = Aim for at least 2-4 servings per day of fresh, whole fruit (rather than juices);
- Try to have fruit 5-10mins before all other food, the exception to this is other raw foods like salads, which are fine to have at the same time as fruit.
- If you can’t make 4 servings per day then eat at least 2 pieces per day and have more veggies instead.
Vegetables = Aim for at least 5 servings per day;
- Eat seasonally where possible and
- Go for a wide variety of colours and types of veggies.
- Always include some form of green leafy vegetables.
Protein = Portion size matters;
- When it comes to complex protein like animal meat (chicken, fish, beef etc.). It’s important to keep each serving of animal protein to 1x fistful or palm length in size.
- Your animal protein intake may vary from day to day depending on how much physical activity you are doing.
- If you are vegetarian then complete vegetarian protein combining is important to achieve in at least one of your meals per day.
Carbohydrates = Portion size matters;
- Complex carbohydrates in the form of grains include; brown rice, wholemeal pasta, all wholemeal or unprocessed grains.
- Complex carbohydrates from vegetables include; starchy veggies like potato, sweet potato, corn, taro, squash etc.
- Keep each serving of complex carbohydrate to 1x fistful size per meal.
Fats = Healthy fats include; extra virgin olive oil, butter, ghee, coconut oil, sesame oil, avocado oil, nut oils. A serving size is about the top tip of your thumb;
- Saturated fats come from animal & animal by- products as well as coconut oil.
- Trans fats can be made from vegetable oils through a process called hydrogenation and can often be found in many cakes, biscuits, crackers, icings, margarines, and microwave popcorn products.
- Omega 3 fats such as EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), come from fish, seeds and beans.
Please note that this is a guide ONLY and food requirements can differ between people for many reasons including; pregnancy, breastfeeding, health conditions, chronic disease, specific training, specific medications, ethnic and genetic background, age and more.