1. Eat a variety of foods
For good health, we need more than 40 different nutrients, and no single food can supply them all. It is not about a single meal, it is about a balanced food choice over time that will make a difference!
- A high-fat lunch could be followed by a low-fat dinner.
- After a large meat portion at dinner, perhaps fish should be the next day’s choice?
2. Base your diet on plenty of foods rich in carbohydrates
About half the calories in our diet should come from foods rich in carbohydrates, such as cereals, rice, pasta, potatoes, and bread. It is a good idea to include at least one of these at every meal. Wholegrain foods, like wholegrain bread, pasta, and cereals, will increase our fibre intake.
3. Replace saturated with unsaturated fat
Fats are important for good health and proper functioning of the body. However, too much of it can negatively affect our weight and cardiovascular health. Different kinds of fats have different health effects, and some of these tips could help us keep the balance right:
- We should limit the consumption of total and saturated fats (often coming from foods of animal origin), and completely avoid trans fats; reading the labels helps to identify the sources.
- Eating fish 2-3 times a week, with at least one serving of oily fish, will contribute to our right intake of unsaturated fats.
- When cooking, we should boil, steam or bake, rather than frying, remove the fatty part of meat, use vegetable oils.
4. Enjoy plenty of fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are among the most important foods for giving us enough vitamins, minerals and fibre. We should try to eat at least 5 servings a day. For example, a glass of fresh fruit juice at breakfast, perhaps an apple and a piece of watermelon as snacks, and a good portion of different vegetables at each meal.
5. Reduce salt and sugar intake
A high salt intake can result in high blood pressure, and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. There are different ways to reduce salt in the diet:
- When shopping, we could choose products with lower sodium content.
- When cooking, salt can be substituted with spices, increasing the variety of flavours and tastes.
- When eating, it helps not to have salt at the table, or at least not to add salt before tasting.
Sugar provides sweetness and an attractive taste, but sugary foods and drinks are rich in energy, and are best enjoyed in moderation, as an occasional treat. We could use fruits instead, even to sweeten our foods and drinks.
6. Eat regularly, control the portion size
Eating a variety of foods, regularly, and in the right amounts is the best formula for a healthy diet.
Skipping meals, especially breakfast, can lead to out-of-control hunger, often resulting in helpless overeating. Snacking between meals can help control hunger, but snacking should not replace proper meals. For snacks, we could choose yoghurt, a handful of fresh or dried fruits or vegetables (like carrot sticks), unsalted nuts, or perhaps some bread with cheese.
Paying attention to portion size will help us not to consume too much calories, and will allow us to eat all the foods we enjoy, without having to eliminate any.
- Cooking the right amount makes it easier to not overeat.
- Some reasonable serving sizes are: 100 g of meat; one medium piece of fruit; half a cup of raw pasta.
- Using smaller plates helps with smaller servings.
- Packaged foods, with calorie values on the pack, could aid portion control.
- If eating out, we could share a portion with a friend.