Now the food plate, not the food Pyramid

Now the food plate, not the food pyramid

Let us talk about what should go into an ideal food plate.  We all know the importance of fruits and vegetables, which are laden with essential nutrients and vitamins necessary for a healthy body. With the rising incidence of diseases like diabetes and other chronic diseases, it is all the more important to eat healthy for a good quality of life.

One should eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, especially seasonal ones as they contain a lot of dietary fiber, and vitamins to maximize the nutrient intake.  But we have to take care not to use too much oil during preparation of vegetables or fruits with sugar syrup as it would lead to weight gain and extra calories.

It is better if we substitute the white processed foods like rice and bread with wholegrain, brown rice, whole wheat or rolled oats . Wholegrain food contains important vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and insulin which reduces the risk of heart disease and diabetes as it controls our hunger pangs.

We should go in for lean meats, lentils, beans and nuts for our daily supply of protein.  It is recommended to aim for at least two servings of fish a week.  Not to forget mentioning that we have to include milk and milk products especially the low fat ones for our daily supply of calcium.  But children need the full fat variety as they have greater energy needs as compared to adults, and also to enable their growth.

To put it in a nutshell, one half of our plate should contain fruits and vegetables and a quarter of our plate should contain whole grains, and the last quarter should consist of meats and dairy products in order to lead a healthy life.

As a complementary addition, use healthier oils like canola, olive, soy, sunflower and peanut oils, which contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that decrease our risk of getting heart disease.  But even the usage of healthier oils should be done in moderation, as they have the same amount of calories as any other oil.  While eating out, we should look out for restaurants that use healthy oil.

Water is very important and should be had liberally and should be our natural choice and a priority over other sugar sweetened drinks for healthy weight management.

One cannot undermine the importance of physical activity to maintain good health.  Household chores, swimming, cycling, walking, weight training and other daily activities all come under the category of physical activity. Physical activity should be encouraged for infants right from birth through floor based activity in safe environments.  Children who are able to walk on their own and below 7 years should have at least 180 minutes of physical activity spread throughout the day.  Children and youths of 7 to 18 years should at least have 60 minutes of physical activity, and last but not the least, adults should have at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week.

In conclusion the healthy food that goes into our plate as mentioned above and the physical activity we maintain on a regular basis goes a long way in leading a healthy and disease free life.