Planning a healthy diet.
Have you found that there are too many diet options out there?
How well you nourish your body doesn’t come from any one food or removal of any one food group.
There are principles that guide qualified nutritional professionals when it comes to planning individual diets.
There are 6 Basic Principles to follow; Adequacy, Balance, Energy Control, Nutrient Density, Moderation and Variety.
Adequacy is where most fad diets go wrong… that’s right. They get principle #1 wrong. Is the diet you are about to undertake going to meet the energy needs and provide sufficient energy to keep you healthy while chasing your goals?
Essential nutrients have to be considered and what’s great about the Australian Dietary Guidelines is they help you plan well and incorporate foods with a variety of minerals and vitamins as well as macronutrient levels to support your goals.
Check the slides above for key points on the 6 principles or click the link in our bio to read a deeper detailing of them!
Balance is used to determine you consume enough, but not too much, of each type of food.
Not just in protein, fats and carbs but the balance of minerals. The Australian healthy eating guidelines suggest the average adult should be looking to consume:
- 5-6 Serves of vegetables and legumes/beans/day (e.g a serve looks like ½ cup cooked green vegetables, ½ cup canned chickpeas, 1 cup leafy greens or ½ a medium white potato)
- 2 serves of fruit (e.g a serve looks like 1 medium piece of fruit such as banana, apple, nectarine or 2 small pieces such as apricots, plums and kiwis.
- 6 Serves of grains/cereals (e.g a serve looks like 1 slice of bread, ½ cooked rice, pasta or oats)
- 2-3 serves of lean meat, poultry, nuts/seeds a day (e.g 2 large eggs, 65g of cooked lean red meat, 80g (100g when raw) poultry or 30g of nuts/seeds whole or as a paste with no added salt)
- 2.5 serves of dairy products or alternatives (e.g 1 cup of milk, 1 cup of milk alternative with at least 100 mg of added calcium/100ml or 40gm of hard cheese.
- And of course, drink plenty of water.
To find more information on Balance jump onto the Australian Dietary Guidelines website or NRV website which we’ll reference below.
Energy control is when you balance the amount of energy being used by the body for metabolic and physical activities with the right amount of energy consumed in your food. If the balance is above (i.e over-eating) body weight will be gained and if the balance is under then body weight will decrease.
While there is way more detail in the bodily processes that occur when controlling energy the biggest determining factor to avoid overeating is nutrient density.
Nutrient density is what it looks like to eat well without overeating. You want to make food choices that provide a large density of nutrients for the least amount of energy/calories.
Here’s a great example involving foods with calcium. 40gm of cheddar cheese and 1 cup of low fat milk both provide approx 300 mg of calcium. However the cheese comes with twice as much food energy/calories as the milk.
So if you’re trying to avoid overeating, the milk would be a better choice.
This is just one small example. If dairy is not part of your regular diet due to allergies then 1+¼ cup of cooked spinach provides as much calcium as the cup of milk but saves an additional 400kJ/100 calories… however you won’t receive the protein benefits the milk provides.
As you can see, there is more to a healthy well balanced diet than just cutting something out.
There is a budget of energy your body can consume while still needed to provide it with all the right vitamins and minerals to function properly.
A handful of grapes vs a can of soft drink provides a similar amount of food energy/Calories however you gain vital nutrients from the grapes. So should you not enjoy some of those treats? Well let’s touch on that in the next point.
Moderation is when a person regularly chooses foods lower in saturated fats and added sugars and only enjoys those on occasion.
This practice of moderation improves nutrient density and also better energy control.
If your goal is weight loss, choosing better food options more regularly will assist you with getting there faster.
Finally we have variety. There are several reasons why eating the exact same food every day isn’t the best way to go about things.
Foods in the same food groups provided different and different amounts of nutrients, variety improves nutrient adequacy.
No food is guaranteed to be entirely contamination free, by mixing and matching you limit the ingestion of any such contaminants that may be found on fruits for example.
Boring! No-one enjoys being bored. Variety is the spice of life!
Understanding Nutrition, 4th edition.