Most of us think we know what makes a balanced diet and tend to believe our food choices pretty much qualify.
But do they? It’s a worthwhile exercise every once in a while to jot down exactly what you’re consuming over a few days – and pick yourself up on any bad habits that may have crept in. And I would even suggest clarifying what a balanced diet really means.
The ‘textbook’ definition
The NHS have designed the ‘Eatwell Plate’, designed to help you visualise a healthy diet.
It shows the different types of food we need to eat – and in what proportions. For good health, the Eatwell Plate says that kids over 5 and all adults should eat:
- Lots of fruit and veg: that means 5-portions-a-day, with plenty of variety
- Carbs for energy: potatoes, bread, rice, pasta (preferably wholegrain)
- Some dairy foods: milk, cheese, yoghurts
- Some protein: such as meat, fish, eggs, beans and pulses
- A small amount of foods and drinks high in fat and/or sugar
But is this really ideal?
In my view, for good health, and especially if you’re attempting to lose weight, or flatten your tummy, then you need to make a few adjustments to this formula.
The MUTU Food approach (and lots of other people too – I didn’t invent this one!) recommends that veggies should be the biggest portion of food on their plate, with protein next + carbs being the smallest group. Grains can be cut right down, or even out… but don’t panic! See my Mums’ Guide to Paleo articles here on translating a few ‘no grains’/ Paleo-esque principles easily onto the family dinner table.
Secondly – the eatwell plate strictly limits fats :( Transfats in processed foods, commercially baked goods and takeouts – hell yes. But avocados, cold pressed olive oil, coconut oil, flax and other seeds, oily fish, eggs… these are GOOD for you! Eat more, not less! Fats from oily fish, nuts, avocados etc are essential (and they’re not the ones responsible for obesity!). MUTU-ers hear a lot from me about the importance of increasing fats in their diets!
Radically cutting back on sugar.. that bit I agree with. Read more about balancing hormones and regulating sugar here.
See my article at the Huffington Post here too on the Myths About Healthy Food
I feel OK, so I must be healthy
Yes, we can often FUNCTION simply by eating calories for energy, no matter what form they come in. But this is doing harm to our bodies in the long term and paving the way for all manner of problems. Only by eating healthily can we nourish our bodies and get as close as possible to optimum performance and health.
If you feel okay while your diet is lacking, imagine how FABULOUS you could feel if you made more of an effort to nourish your body with the fuel it craves.
First step: keep a food diary. Monitor every crisp, chocolate, glass of wine and mouthful of kids’ leftovers you eat over a few days… it will soon become clear what could do with changing. And, if you find your diet wanting, do your best to get back on track – and enjoy the rewards of looking and feeling better!