“There is no love as sincere as the love of food” – George Bernard Shaw
Whether we eat for enjoyment, experience or to share at social events, there is no denying that food plays a vital role in our everyday lives.
But other than pleasure, food provides us with the essential nutrients including vitamins and energy that we need to get through everyday life. So it is important that we keep a balanced diet and promote healthy eating. So what exactly is a balanced diet?
A healthy diet contains fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It also contains little to no processed food or sweetened drinks.
Let’s be clear, very few foods are all good or all bad. But, having an idea of the balance in your diet makes it easier to enjoy your food and be healthy. So let’s unpack what healthy eating looks like. Below is a list of the different types of food groups.
There Are 5 Food Groups
1. Vegetables and legumes (beans)
Vegetables come from different parts of the plant, including the leaves, roots, tubers, flowers, stems, seeds and shoots. Legumes are the seeds of a plant and are eaten in their immature form as green peas and beans, and the mature form as dried peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas. Most adults should eat at least 5 servings from the vegetable group a day.
Fruits are the fleshy parts of a plant, they are usually sweet or sour, and eaten raw. Common fruits include apples, bananas, grapes, lemons, oranges, and strawberries. While fruits make for healthy eating, be aware that they contain sugar and should be eaten in moderation. Most adults should have between 2-4 servings of fruit a day.
3. Grains and Cereals
Grains are the edible seeds of specific grasses. Wheat, oats and rice are the most common types of grain, while others such as rye, barley and corn are also popular. While there is an ongoing debate on how often we should eat grains, it is important to note that we should stay away from refined grains.
4. Lean Meat, Poultry, Fish, Eggs, Nuts and Seeds
Lean meats have a lower fat content. They are a good source of protein and have fewer calories than non-lean meats. Skinless chicken and turkey and red meat with the fat trimmed off are examples of lean meat. Adults should have 1 serving of lean meat a day.
5. Milk, Cheese, Yoghurt Or Alternatives
Dairy products are a good source of calcium because they contain vitamin A, protein and phosphorus. Fortified milk also has vitamin D added to it. The foods in this group are important in keeping our bones strong and healthy so an adult should have 3 servings of dairy products per day.
Foods that are not included in the 5 food groups (like cakes, sweets and fizzy drinks) are sometimes called junk food. These foods are high in energy but contain little to no nutritional value. So if your goal is healthy eating then they should be avoided as much as possible.
To keep a balanced diet, we must eat a large amount of raw and cooked vegetables & fruit as well as nuts, seeds, lean white meat and fish (especially oily). Lean cuts of beef, dairy products and unsaturated fats (olive oil, vegetable oil) should be eaten in moderation. Processed meats, pastries and sweets should also be consumed moderately.
A well-balanced diet provides important vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to keep the body and mind strong and healthy. Eating well can also help provide energy, allow better sleep, and improve brain function.
Healthy eating doesn’t need to be complex, monitor what you eat and make sure that you “eat to live, don’t live to eat.” If you are unsure about what you are eating, consult a nutritionist or doctor.