Nutrition 101 – The Basics

Healthy food choices and portion sizes all affect overall nutrition

For some reason proper nutrition and eating a well-balanced diet seems to elude many of us. If we were all able to complete this simple task, the health of the western world would be in a much better position than it currently is, and the national health bill would be much less. All these lifestyle-related diseases such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic disorders and some allergies and cancers could be avoided if we just ate a balanced, less toxic diet and made better lifestyle choices. So, what is a balanced diet?

Nutrition 101 – What to Eat?

I’m constantly surprised that people don’t understand good food choices versus bad. Seriously, just because it has “low-fat” on the box does NOT make it a good food choice. It is likely to be loaded with chemicals and sugar to give it some flavour. Eating healthy is really simple. Basically, it is eating a combination of lean, unprocessed protein, low GI carbohydrates, a colourful array of fresh vegetables, some seasonal fruit and un-saturated fats. I will cover each of these nutrients in more detail over the following weeks.

The easiest and most visual way to ensure you are eating a balanced diet is to keep your food in the following proportions:

  • A quarter of each main meal should be lean protein
  • A quarter of each meal should be carbohydrate: starchy vegetables or low GI carbohydrates
  • Half of each meal should be non-starchy vegetables (colourful greens, carrot, and beetroot etc.)
  • With a sprinkle of healthy fats (think nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil, or coconut oil etc.)

Nutrition 101 – How Much?

Even if you are eating the healthiest diet on the planet, you still need to keep a check on how much food you are putting into your body. Most of us eat driven by desire and keep eating to the point of ‘I can eat another thing’. Instead, let hunger dictate when you eat, and understand that if you do over eat you’ll need to burn it off (exercise) before your body does that nasty little thing on you – and stores it as fat.

Here’s a few tips to keep portion sizes in proportion and stop you from over eating.

  • Have a salad before eating your meal. It will curb your appetite and give you a sense of satiety sooner.
  • If eating out, split an entrée with a friend. Or order two entrées, instead of an entrée and a main. And don’t be afraid to ask for small servings. It will save a lot of overeating or guilt when you leave food on your plate.
  • Buy or make single serving snacks. You can easily portion out a large container of nuts into smaller individual serving bags. You will be much less likely to go back for an extra bag than an extra handful.
  • Keep seconds out of sight. Leave the food in the kitchen, and bring your plate to the table. You will usually think twice about getting up from the table to refill your plate, whereas you might be more tempted to dig in again if the food is within arm’s reach.
  • Have healthy snacks between meals. This will keep you satisfied and stop you from overeating at meal times.

If you have any tricks you use to keep your food portions in control feel free to share.

This is the first article in a multi-part series focused on nutrition for TodaysFitnessTrainer.com.  Next up … the topic will be PROTEIN.

But, until then … here’s to your great health!

Kris Abbey (www.spalife.com.au)

Kris Abbey (kris@spalife.com.au)

Kris Abbey, the spa-going, health-nut, mother-of-three, is the publishing editor of Spa Life and Better Health magazines.  She has passionately been involved in fitness, health, and wellness for over 30 years (and looks forward to at least another 30 years!).

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