Basic Principles of Healthy Eating
Although there is no single blueprint for a healthy balanced diet, there are a few basic principles that are likely to be part of most healthy eating-plans. As follows:
1. Include Foods From All Food Groups
Unless you are a vegetarian or otherwise advised by your doctor, your daily diet should include a variety of foods, ideally from all the main groups of foods, such as: meats, dairy, fruits, vegetables and fats.
See also: Food Digestion Guide.
2. Carbohydrate Should be Slow-Release and Low in Glycemic Value
Carb-containing foods with a low value on the glycemic index keep you satisfied for longer, reduce cravings and help maintain stable blood glucose levels. It’s not necessary to eat only low GI foods. Intermediate (moderate) GI foods are okay, too. But you should include at least one low GI food at every meal.
3. Fat-intake Should be Predominantly Non-Saturated
- Choose lower-fat meats and dairy foods.
- Trim all visible fat.
- Eat regular fish (any type).
- Eat butter/margarine sparingly.
4. Eat Enough Omega-3 Fats
- Choose unrefined cooking oils.
- Try oils containing omega-3 fatty acids: (eg.) canola, flax oil.
- Alternatively, include regular oily fish in your diet.
5. Eat More High-Fiber Foods
Unless otherwise advised by your doctor, make sure your daily diet includes sufficient dietary fiber (both soluble and insoluble) for your needs. A ballpark figure is 25-30g per day. When increasing your fiber intake, do so gradually.
6. Beware Hidden Fats and Sugars (and Sodium)
Much of our intake of fat and sugar and sodium is typically from packaged or prepared foods, such as: sauces, packet foods, sodas, candy, soups and so on. You can’t avoid these types of food, but you should check the label and choose brands that are lower in sugar, saturated fat (“hydrogenated” or “trans-fats”) and sodium.
7. Choose Healthy Snacks
Snacking is a universal and very healthy eating habit. Eating regularly throughout the day maintains stable blood-glucose levels (thus reducing the build-up of hunger) and helps maintain optimum metabolic rate. For healthy snacks, choose chopped fruit, chopped vegetables, nuts and seeds, wholegrain sandwiches, fresh lean meats, and mineral water.
Okay, you may not be able to eat these healthy foods all the time, but include them in your diet as often as possible!