Making the right food and nutrition choices is a necessary part of daily life—but finding the best and most accurate information can be confusing. However, it is possible to develop a plan for healthy eating, and plans that emphasize a balance of foods. Healthy eating is about eating the right ingredients in the right amount.
Our three major meals should be small, complete and varied. The plate that forms our breakfast should be able to give us all the major nutrients in the required amount, ensure we get most of the micronutrients and should also be a source of plenty of fibre. For example your breakfast cannot be just carbohydrates; it must have adequate proteins and a large serving of fruits and vegetables to make your meal wholesome. The cereal which is the main source of carbohydrate should be whole to ensure high fibre, low Glycemic Index and to keep the vitamins and minerals intact.
Here is how your plate may look like for the three major meals of the day:
There are few guidelines, suggested, to ensure your plate is complete, nutritious and still gives only the required calories.
Fruits: A quarter portion of your plate should be fruits: choose fresh choose local and choose seasonal fruits of varied colours and groups… you may have a citrus fruit, an apple, can experiment with a guava, or a melon, consume the papaya, pineapple, avocado, berry …. Whatever is fresh local produce and forms the colours of the rainbow.
Vegetables: Around 30% of your plate can be made up of vegetables both raw as salads and cooked. Choose fresh greens (spinach, methi, leeks, spring onions), red tomatoes, juicy vegetables such as gourds( lauki and turai), aubergine, cucumber, peppers, tubers(colocasia and yam) lots of beans(flat, round, french), cabbage and many more. Do not overcook vegetables … they will lose most of their goodness. The best way to cook them is to gently sauté them with very little cooking oil and some seasoning and fresh herbs.
Grains: Whole grains can be rich sources of complex carbohydrates, proteins, fibre, vitamins, and minerals and should make up another quarter of your plate. Keep all your grains whole. Broken wheat, oats, whole grains flour (ragi, jowar, gram, soya, buckwheat, bajra or whole wheat) can be eaten as porridge, pancakes, bread or chapattis. Avoid cereals which are refined, milled or processed and come with added sugar and artificial flavours.
Proteins: Next major part of your meal is proteins; the building blocks that are needed for tissue repair and have a great satiety value. Choose proteins from vegetarian sources such as whole lentils like grams, rajma, lobiya, masoor, moong, urad and chickpea. Eat them either boiled, sautéed, sprouted or grind to make a pancake. Egg whites are the best source of protein and having a couple of egg whites in a day can meet a large part of your protein requirement. Lean meat and fresh water fish in small quantity can also be a good source of protein. Don’t miss out on nuts like Walnuts, almonds, dates, raisins, apricots, cashews etc.
Dairy: A serving of low fat milk or yoghurt completes your meal. (A serving is a cup of 200 ml)
A balanced plate means choosing a wide variety of foods and drinks from all the food groups and in the recommended portions. It also means eating certain things in moderation, namely saturated fats, Trans-fats, cholesterol, refined sugar, salt and alcohol. Avoid unhealthy fat-loaded, sugary and salty snacks and replace them with healthier fresh alternatives. The goal is to take in required nutrients needed for the healthy self and within the recommended quantity. Healthy eating urges one to balance the nutrient intake throughout the day.
So go on have a plateful….