We are often looking for quick fixes in nutrition. Instant changes, prescribed programs, and miracle cures are constantly marketed to us. Sadly these don’t work, as they are unsustainable and not based on behaviour change. But it’s not all bad news…
We can all make small tweaks to our eating, to be happier and healthier. Small changes that we can sustain and turn into habits to have long-lasting benefits.
We just love colourful veggies here at Foost. Eating more fruits and vegetables is the most positive and protective change we can do for our health. From having more energy, to enjoy life, to reducing our risks of cancer (by up to 20%) and heart disease (by up to 30%).
We also believe that no food is evil and that all foods can form part of a healthy diet, it’s just a matter of balance.
One of the easiest and more positive food changes we can make is simply to balance our plates.
Aim for your DINNER plate to follow the guide of 1/2 veg, 1/4 protein and 1/4 grains. Once you have your dinner under control, try this ratio at lunch too! Breakfast is usually less veggie packed but add some if you can (or add colourful fruit instead).
What does that look like?
- some protein (or dairy): meat, chicken, eggs, fish, nuts, baked beans, lentils. These help to satisfy us, keeping us fuller for longer and also providing essential nutrients.
- some grains: grainy bread, pasta, brown basmati rice, quinoa, potatoes. There are what fuel our muscles and brains. Aim for grainy and brown varieties where possible.
- some veg (and fruit): did you know the most popular veggies in Australia are carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, capsicum, zucchini, onion and cabbage? Fruit and veg are full of fibre, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals (which often makes them colourful and protect our cells from damage).
Think about your dinner last night, maybe it was Chinese takeaway? If it was, then you could balance it up by adding a side of veg or salad when eating out or grabbing a takeaway. If it was steak and three veg (maybe potato, carrots and a few token peas) could you reduce the steak a little? Keep the potatoes and then up the veggies to half your plate (either by having more or each or increasing the variety of veggies). Think about the colour as well, aim for a traffic light of colour: some green, orange/yellow and red.
TOP TIP: When shopping, look down at your trolley. Is their a traffic light of coloured fruit and veg?
Ideas to up the veg on your plate
To increase the veggie component of your plate, you can:
- add veggies to your cooking. Look at a recipe and just double the veg! Grated, diced, julienne, add as much colour to your cooking as possible!
- add veggies to the side. If packing a sandwich for lunch, add a carrot and handful of cherry tomatoes to the side too. If having dinner, add some steamed (or microwaved) veg or salad to the side. Salads can be as fancy or as easy as you like (cut up some carrot and cucumber sticks)
- add veggies to your smoothies, baking or pancakes (spinach, kale, cucumber, frozen cauliflower, grated zucchini).
- you can pre-cut your veg and store in a little water in a container in the fridge for ease.
- on the weekend, make a big batch of roast veggies and add them to your breakfast, dinners and lunch throughout the week.
- snack on frozen peas on a hot day.
- enjoy veggies with your favourite dressing, dip or natural peanut butter.
- think frozen, fresh or canned.
How I would balance this plate
If you are having pasta for dinner (and maybe taking the leftovers for lunch):
- Add grated carrot, zucchini, diced mushroom and eggplant and a can of lentils to the meat sauce
- In your bowl have half spinach and half pasta
- Add a side salad or some frozen veg
- Fry some mushroom, tomatoes, spinach and red capsicum before adding the eggs
- Serve on some multigrain bread with a little extra spinach on the side
A stir-fry or curry:
- Have more veg than meat in your pot (double veg to meat)
- Serve the dish on some rice
- Legumes (baked beans, lentils, red kidney beans) are awesome as either a protein or a veggie
- Starchy veg (potatoes, sweet potatoes and corn) are great as a veggie or grain
- Frozen veggies are just as nutritious as fresh and so convenient
- You can include canned veg, just drain the liquid
- Veggies are not just for dinner, they make great snacks too!