Do you feel that your diet is really off the mark? It is true that eating a healthy diet will go a long way to make you feel better right now and keep you well into the future. Here are six simple strategies to spruce up your daily diet.
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.
1. Use the Healthy Diet Pyramid
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.
Made up of four 4 food groups stacked to form a pyramid, the Healthy Diet Pyramid 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.
|Food Group||Number of Servings /Day||Example of 1 Serving|
|Rice and Alternatives|| |
|Meat and Alternatives|| |
* 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 alternatives 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 Rice and Alternatives and Meat and Alternatives 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.
2. Eat enough grains
Popular grain food such as bread, rice, noodles, pasta, biscuits, porridge, ketupat, idli, dhosai, and chapatti are great sources of complex carbohydrates. They are your body s preferred fuel to support physical and mental activities. Fill your plate with enough grains at each meal to stay energized through out the day.
Don t forget the whole-grains
Eaten with the bran and germ intact, whole-grain food such as oats, wholemeal bread, brown rice, wholegrain noodles and pasta, deliver more vitamins, minerals, fibre and protective plant chemicals (phytochemicals) than refined grains like white rice and white bread. So, get the wholesome benefits by eating at least 1 serving of whole-grain food each day.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. Reduce fat, oil, salt, and sugar
Seasonings are placed at the top of the Healthy Diet Pyramid to remind us to use them only in small amounts to make other wholesome food a little more enjoyable. Pay particular attention to selecting healthier unsaturated fats and oils and minimise intake of saturated and trans fats. When you buy food at the supermarket or at the restaurant, remember to select items that are lower in fat, salt and added sugars.
6. 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.
To view the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for adults in Singapore, click here.
- Use the Healthy Diet Pyramid 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.