According to the Australian Dietary Guidelines, a balanced and nutritious meal should include foods from the Five Food Groups – Proteins, Vegetables, Fruits, Grains and Dairy. The foods in each of the Five Food Groups share similar nutritional properties. For example, polenta, bread and quinoa from the Grain/Cereal Foods category are all rich sources of fibre. Further, the Australian Dietary Guidelines specify the ‘Serve Sizes’ for each of the foods. Serve sizes are the amounts of food to be consumed that roughly provide the body with the same calorie and nutrient content. For example, one serve of yoghurt or one serve of fruit. To seemingly complicate matters a bit, are the ‘Portion Sizes’ that in contrast with the serve sizes can vary depending on how hungry you actually are and what meal are you partaking.
What does a ‘Portion Size’ mean?
Let us start with a little investigative activity. Ask yourself what you had for breakfast? Was it a few slices of bread, some milk and eggs? The quantity of food you actually consumed is the ‘Portion’. Test your portion sizes against the recommendations made in this blog. Take some time to actually measure one cup, one ounce, or 50-100 grams of food in order to get a sense of the amount of food you intake during the course of a meal.
What does a serve of Proteins look like?
Did you know that on average we consume 30% more meat than what is recommended? Alarming as it is, this is what the statistics show. The recommendation is to go for leaner sources of protein whenever possible and diversifying with beans and fish.
What does a serve of Vegetables look like?
A recent National Health Survey points to the fact that as high as 90% of the Australian women and 96% of the Australian men do not consume enough vegetables. A large number of prevalent health conditions and high-risk diseases exist because we are consuming lesser and lesser portions of vegetables. It is recommended that we consume 5 or more servings of vegetables daily.
What does a serve of Fruits look like?
The same National Health Survey also reports a little better consumption rate for fruits than for vegetables, stating that 45% of the Australian women and 56% of the Australian men did not eat enough fruit. It is recommended that we consume 2 or more servings of fruits every day.
What does a serve of Grains look like?
Whole grains and homemade cereals are highly recommended in this category.
What does a serve of Dairy look like?
Lower fat or reduced-fat dairy options are a wise choice in this category. Yogurts without added sugars are preferable.
Eating right is about eating a balanced meal. In my blog post on Moderation last week I discussed the benefits of controlling the portions of food while listening to the signals the body sends about its state of hunger or satiation. Listening to these signals is vital too. That is why meals at the table away from the distractions of the television or smartphone are necessary.
Finally, enjoy the food you eat. Be conscious of the look, feel, aroma, taste and texture of the food you consume. This will help you eat lesser to feel more satisfied!