Part of being healthy is eating healthy.
But it’s not always to know what you should be eating. How much you should be eating. And what exactly is a superfood anyway?
The single most important healthy eating tip is the one you have heard many times before. "You need to eat a healthy, balanced diet."
A balanced diet is one where each meal comprises of all the macronutrients your body needs.
Each macronutrient plays an important role in helping you function at peak condition:
- Carbohydrates: provide the energy required to function
- Proteins: help the body recover
- Fat: helps maintain energy levels, and the absorption of proteins
Great carbohydrate sources
- Brown rice
- Whole wheat bread
- Buckwheat noodles
Great sources of proteins
- White meats
- Grilled fish
- Nuts and seeds
Great sources of good fats
- Olive oil
- Dark chocolate
What does a balanced diet look like?
With the right information achieving a balanced healthy diet is not too difficult to achieve. Here are some simple steps you can follow:
- Increase your portion of fruits and vegetables
The government is encouraging all citizens to consume at least 3 servings of vegetables a day. Whilst a World Health Organization (WHO) backed study found health benefits to consuming up to 10 portions of fruit and vegetables daily. They help ensure your body gets adequate amounts of micronutrients.
- Reduce intake of Processed Grains
Malaysians are encouraged to reduce cereal intake to 6 servings per day. With each serving amounting to 2 scoops of rice, 1 cup of noodles, or 2 slices of bread.
Limit your intake of saturated fat to 60g per day. Fat is high in calories, so it can rapidly increase your daily calorie intake. This means high fat foods should be limited where possible:
Curry noodles - 37g fat (per 400g)
Sweet and sour fish - 31g of fat (per 270g)
Fried chicken - 25g of fat (per 120g)
- Limit salt / sodium intake
Salt is pretty bad for our health. With The Ministry of Health implementing a sodium reduction plan to target the nearly 74% of Malaysians currently consuming too much salt. The Malaysian Government recommends consuming less than 5g of salt per day. To put that into perspective, one can of chicken curry contains 2036 mg of salt, close to 50% of your daily limit.
Sugar, refined sugars, and fake sugars all lead to a skyrocketing calorie count, bulging waistline and mid-afternoon energy crashes. Recent advice from the WHO recommends limiting sugar intake to less than 5%, below 25 grams, per day.
- Make space for things you love
It’s important to maintain a healthy relationship with foods.
So don’t restrict yourself to ‘healthy’ foods only. Understand that being healthy is building the foundation of your diet around foods that meet your macronutrient and calorie needs.
But you should also allow some wiggle room for your guilty food pleasures such as chocolates or cheese or nasi lemak.
If you find your particular food crush is hurting your fitness goals, don’t demonise it. Instead, find ways to cut the portion size or find a healthier version.