Choosing to eat healthy and nourishing foods for your body is the best gift you can give yourself in terms of health and longevity! As Jim Rohn said: ‘Take care of your body. It is the only place you have to live in.
Nourishing foods provide your body with all the nutrients it needs to function optimally. This means we need to provide our bodies with a variety of foods at the right time, in the right portions and to really concentrate on including the truly nourishing sources such vegetables and fruit!
Nourishing foods come from including a variety of food sources in your diet, as not one food can give you all the nutrients you need. Therefore, eating a variety of wholesome foods can help you maintain health and prevent illness and disease.
The first step to choosing nourishing foods is to adopt a healthy eating routine. This helps you to eat at the right time. This could include three balanced main meals each day (i.e. no skipping meals, especially breakfast!) and two snacks (optional). Eating smaller more frequent meals assists to ‘rev’ up your metabolism and keeps your blood glucose (sugar) levels more stable.
Learning how to snack and eat smart for your individual requirements is important. We are all so different therefore a ‘one-size-shoe-fits-all-approach’ may not work for you! A registered dietitian can assist you in drawing up a healthy and balanced eating plan. Here are some healthy snack ideas for those who choose to eat in between meal times.
If you are not sure if you are following what is considered to be a healthy diet it is also a good idea to see how many of the South African Food based Dietary Guidelines you follow below:
- Enjoy a variety of foods
- Starchy foods can be made part of most meals (ALWAYS important to choose healthy non-refined starches)
- Fish, chicken, lean meat or eggs could be eaten daily
- Have milk, maas or yoghurt every day
- Eat dry beans, split -peas, lentils and soya regularly
- Use salt and foods high in salt sparingly
- Use fats sparingly, choose vegetable oils rather than hard fats
- Use sugar and food and drinks high in sugar sparingly
- Drink lots of clean safe water
Along with making sure you include a variety of foods in your diet, it is also important to be wary of portion sizes.
When dishing up your lunch or dinner…
1. Fill ½ your plate with veggies. Go wild, as this provides your body with vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants!
2. Fill ¼ of your plate with a wholegrain and high fiber carbohydrates such as brown/ wild/ basmati rice, wholewheat pasta etc. This provides your body with energy!
3. Fill the other ¼ of your plate with a lean protein such as lean beef/ chicken/ fish/ pork or eggs or legumes (beans, split peas or lentils). This provides your body with the nutrients to build and maintain muscle strength.
4. Water on the side. Up to 70% of your body is made up of water. Replenish your stores on a regular basis.
For more info on plating click here.
Most of us don’t eat enough vegetables.
VEGETABLES which include all the colours of the rainbow and that does not include BUNNY foods such as lettuce, tomato and cucumber but rather the bright red, yellow, green, purple and orange vegetables are essential to good health! From crispy carrots to plump eggplants, one can hardly ever go wrong! Vegetables provide us with many micronutrients such as magnesium, iron, calcium, B-vitamins etc. These micronutrients are essential to life and health. Vegetables are also a good source of fiber. Admit it, there is just nothing like the crunch of a fresh sugar snap peas.
Here are a few other benefits that vegetables may have:
- Help fight disease and heal infections, for example red cabbage is high in anti-oxidants (vitamin C)
- Help with blood pressure, especially vegetables which are high in potassium (mushroom), magnesium (spinach) & calcium (broccoli)
- Low in calories (excluding avocado which is considered a fat source in the nutrition world)
- Lower your risk for colon cancer as some vegetables (e.g. green beans) are good sources of insoluble fiber
- Great source of B-vitamins (ditch the injections, vegetables are far less painful) such as spinach and broccol
- Lower your risk for heart disease as the soluble fiber can be found in a variety of vegetables
Regular fruit intake is also important!
Fruits are an important source of anti-oxidants so be sure to include fruit on a daily basis. Fruits are also a good source of fiber, but keep the skin on to get this benefit!
How many vegetables and fruits should we have EACH DAY?
Aim to include at least three vegetable portions (1 serving is 1/2 cup cooked or 2 cups raw) and 2 fruits (1 serving is the size of a tennis ball).
- Lastly here are some great tips to help you increase your vegetable intake
- Enjoy as a snack (raw carrots dipped in some cottage cheese or hummus)
- Fill half your plate with vegetables (2 fists full)
- Enjoy vegetables in soups, stir-fries (using healthy fat guidelines), stews, casseroles etc.
- Use frozen vegetables if you are in a rush – they are blast chilled so often they contain more nutrients than the stuff you find lying on the shelves for weeks
- Use pre-cut vegetables if you are in a rush – some is better than none
- Hold the fat, sugar and salt – ENJOY them just as they are or par-boiled/ steamed and crisp
- Start a garden A fun activity for the whole family
- Practice Meatless Mondays
- For some super salad recipes click here
Remember, to the importance of eating correctly by giving your body the nourishing food it needs means you need to ensure a variety of foods are included in your daily intake, in the right portions and at the right times and that vegetables and fruits are important for health.