Optimising Your Diet
Nutrition can be confusing, knowing what to eat, when to eat and how much to eat. Everyone is different, so it’s all about finding what’s right for you. Looking at the Healthy Eating Pyramid is a good place to start. The pyramid is a representation of the proportions of various food groups to include for a healthy balanced diet, it can be helpful to use as a guide when formulating a diet plan.
Sweets, fats, and processed foods should be used sparingly. Foods such as meat, fish and eggs should be consumed in 2 servings a day. Grains, pasta, and breads 3-5, and fruit and veg should form the basis of most meals.
The average adult will need somewhere around 2,000 to 2,5000 calories per day to maintain their current weight. However, the amount of calories you need depends on a number of variables, including your size, muscle mass, level of activity, gender, and age. Once you know how many calories your body needs you can start to meal plan. However, certain high calorie foods aren’t very filling, and some foods may be higher in calories than we think. Dietician, Paula Norris, has created a ‘Spot The Difference’ series on Instagram, highlighting how portion control and switching out certain foods can affect our calorie consumption.
Take these salads for example, on first glance they look pretty similar, however, there is a 300-calorie difference between the two. The salad on the left has double the amount of chicken, 200g as opposed to 100g. 2 tablespoons of oil instead of one. Double the amount of avocado, a half as opposed to a quarter and one cup of rice instead of half a cup. Though, to compensate for the decrease in rice, black beans have been added. This demonstrates the importance of serving size.
Similarly, you can make smart swaps. The snack on the right-hand side has fewer calories but is higher in fibre, more filling, nourishing and lower in added sugar. You don’t have to drastically alter your diet but try and opt for healthier substitutes where possible, for example replacing spaghetti with courgetti (spiralized courgette) or fries with sweet potato fries.
Here are some examples of smart swaps you can make:
- Sour cream for low fat Greek yoghurt
- Milk chocolate for dark chocolate
- Full fat milk for semi skimmed
- Chicken wings for skinless chicken breast
- Thick crust pizza for thin crust
- Jam for smashed berries
- Ice lollies for frozen grapes
- White rice for brown rice
- Blueberry muffin for raisin toast
When eating healthy you can still consume the foods you enjoy, everything in moderation, including moderation.