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Measure Up

In 2012, 30 to 44% of Sri Lankan* adults were classified as overweight or obese. An increased waistline is a sign that you could be at greater risk of developing serious health problems and put you into higher risk of a number of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and some cancers.

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Why measure waist circumference?

Fat around your organs is called visceral or intra abdominal fat, while subcutaneous fat, is the fat right under the skin. Both types of fat play a role in contributing to health problems, however intra abdominal fat is the ‘danger’ fat when it comes to chronic disease.

A waist measurement of greater than 94cm for men or 80cm for women increases the risk of chronic disease.

Using waist circumference in relation to BMI

Large studies* have shown that high waist circumference is bad for health, regardless of whether the BMI is categorised as normal, overweight or obese.  No matter what your weight or BMI is, avoiding gains in waist circumference may reduce the risk of lifestyle diseases and premature mortality.

Measuring your waist line is a simple check

Measuring your waist circumference is a simple check to tell how much body fat you have and where it is placed around your body.

The correct place to measure your waist is horizontally halfway between your lowest rib and the top of your hipbone. This is roughly in line with your belly button.

measuring yourself

For an accurate measurement:

• Measure directly against your skin

• Breathe out normally.

• Make sure the tape is snug, without compressing the skin.

What does my waist measurement mean?

According to the WHO and NHMRC, the waist measurements below(no matter what your height is) suggest you have an increased risk of developing a chronic disease:

 Increased risk

− Men: more than 94 cm/ 37 inches

− Women: more than 80 cm/ 31 inches

Greatly increased risk

− Men: more than 102 cm/ 40 inches

− Women: more than 88 cm/ 35 inches

What if my waist circumference is too high?

Studies show that if you have a high waist circumference, a waist reduction of just 5 cm can significantly reduce risk and make a BIG difference. It is not possible to cut body fat in one specific part of the body through lifestyle intervention. However, eating healthy, adding strength/resistance training and cardiovascular exercise can help reduce overall body fat, whilst decreasing stomach fat.

Practical tips for Weight Loss

  1. Drink plenty of water.
  2. Eat more fruit and vegetables
  3. Eat regular meals and monitor your feelings of hunger and fullness.
  4. Don’t skip meals – and always eat a healthy high fibre breakfast (e.g. bowl of oats with sliced banana & skim milk).
  5. At each meal, fill half your plate with veggies. Divide the other half into two quarters and fill one quarter with lean protein, such as fish, skinless poultry, lean beef, beans or tofu. Fill the other quarter with a grain-based or starchy side dish, preferably a whole grain like brown rice, whole-wheat pasta or a slice of whole-grain bread (see figure below).

portion plate6. Limit your intake of “extra” foods. These foods are not essential to provide the nutrients the body needs and some contain too much added fat, sugar and/ or salt, therefore contribute unnecessary energy to the diet. Examples include fried snacks, chocolate, biscuits, cakes and soft drinks. Choose these foods sometimes or in small amounts.

Physical activity guidelines

Physical activity can accelerate your weight loss by allowing you to expend more energy. In addition to weight loss, physical activity is important for health, fitness and weight maintenance.

There are three steps for better health:

  • Step 1 – Think of movement as an opportunity, not an inconvenience
  • Step 2 – Be active every day in as many ways as you can. For example, take the stairs whenever you can and reduce sitting time.
  • Step 3 – Put together at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days. To sustain weight loss, you should increase to at least 60-90 min daily. Examples of moderate intensity activity include brisk walking, bicycling and general gardening activities. If you’re doing moderate-intensity activity you can talk, but not sing, during the activity.

Keep Checking!

After working on your eating and exercise habits, measure your waist again in six to eight weeks. If your waist circumference has decreased, you are heading in the right direction!

*Article was written in Sri Lanka.

**For more information on the studies, go to this link: http://www.cutthewaist.com/importance.html.


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Divine Delicacies

Divine Delicacies

The Noble Quran mentions special foods that research has shown to be loaded with nutrients as well as have numerous medicinal properties. Here are few of the most common ones with their appearance in the Quran and their health benefits.

Raw, unfiltered honey –

 

Your Lord revealed to the bees: “Build dwellings in the mountains and the trees, and also in the structures which men erect. Then eat from every kind of fruit and travel the paths of your Lord, which have been made easy for you to follow.” From inside them comes a drink of varying colours, containing healing for mankind. There is certainly a Sign in that for people who reflect. (Qur’an, 16:69)

Honey is considered a miracle food and is considered a ‘healing for men” as stated in the verses above. Pure honey has antimicrobial properties, acts as a prebiotic and also has the capacity to serve as a natural food preservative. Honey also contains a good portion of antioxidants and studies have found that consumption of buckwheat honey increased antioxidant levels in subjects. While honey is a high calorie food (one tablespoon of honey has 64 calories while white sugar has 48 calories), studies have ironically shown that participants showed no weight gain in the month they were consuming honey. Some participants also claimed that eating honey for breakfast actually made them feel full and satisfied. The reason behind this is that honey is low to medium GI which means that it takes longer to digest than table sugar and provides more sustained energy. Therefore, replacing white sugar with pure honey which has a lot more nutrients to offer, is a good idea.

All of the combined properties of honey can lead to a healthy immune system, providing protection from colds and flus, as well and boosting resistance to seasonal allergies. The Prophet’s sunnah was to mix a small amount of honey with water, which he drank on an empty stomach every morning.

Dates

Dates contain a unique blend of glucose and fructose consist of more than 50% sugar. They are extremely nourishing, for they are high in calories, and can be digested easily and quickly. Dates also have a very high potassium content (about 64% more than bananas). They have a nutrient called beta-D-glucan which is a soluble fiber that can help you feel fuller for longer.

Dates which grow in dry soil in warm climates are perfect nutrition powerhouses. They contain about 2.2% protein, as well as vitamins A, B1, and B2, calcium, iron, manganese, copper and are good sources of iron and potassium.

Dates are also high in GI, which means that they are broken down and released into the blood stream very quickly, making them the ideal foods with which to break fast. This action as well as their high nutrition status ensures that they are great foods to eat during labour or any other mentally and physically exhausting event. It makes perfect sense then that Maryam who was in labour was provided with dates for nourishment.

A voice called out to her from under her: “Do not grieve! Your Lord has placed a small stream at your feet. Shake the trunk of the palm toward you, and fresh, ripe dates will drop down to you. Eat and drink and delight your eyes …” Surah Maryam: 24-26

Olives

 

 

Olives contain  linoleic acid which is especially useful for breast-feeding mothers. Any deficiency in this acid slows a child’s development and contributes to some skin diseases.

Olive oil is an excellent source of monounsaturated fatty acids that are an important component of any heart healthy diet. Monounsaturated fats are protective against coronary artery disease by reducing the level of LDL cholesterol while increasing the level of beneficial cholesterol HDL in the blood.

He sends down water from the sky. From it you drink, and from it come the shrubs among which you graze your herds. By it He makes crops grow for you, as well as olives and dates and grapes and fruit of every kind. There is certainly a Sign in that for people who reflect. Surat An-Nahl: 10-11

Figs

Figs are not only delicious, but are loaded with potassium and are rich in key minerals such as calcium, iron, and magnesium. They are also a great source of fiber and being very low in calories they are great foods for weight loss.

Potassium is an essential mineral your body needs to regulate your blood pressure. Studies suggest that getting ample amounts of it can help keep blood pressure under control as well as fend off stroke and heart disease.

By the fig, and the olive, by Mount Sinai, and by this city of security (Makkah), Verily, we created man of the best stature, then We reduced him to the lowest of the low, save those who believe and do righteous deeds, then they shall have a reward without end. Then what causes you to deny the Recompense (i.e. Day of Resurrection)? Is not Allah the Best of judges? (Surah At – Tin)

 

And as a final note, while all of the above are highly nutritious choice, don’t forget that they need to be consumed in moderation. Consuming large amounts of the above will lead to excessive calorie consumption. However, do add consider adding them to your diet if you haven’t already. Adding really nutritious, high fiber foods to your diet means that you are less likely to choose other unhealthy snacks. The Quran states “eat of the good and wholesome things that We have provided for your sustenance, but indulge in no excess therein.”  And there you have it, the golden rule for healthy living.

 References

  • The Holy Quran
  • Beauties for Life in the Quran by Harun Yahya
  • European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, April 2002, 56: 114-120.
    Archives of Internal Medicine 1998; 158: 1181-1187.
  • Keys A, Menotti A, Karvonen MJ et al., “The diet and 15-year death rate in the Seven Countries Study,” Am J Epidemiol 124: 903-915 (1986); Willett WC, “Diet and coronary heart disease,”
  • Monographs in Epidemiology and Biostatistics 15: 341-379 (1990); World Health Organization, “Diet, nutrition, and the prevention of chronic diseases,” Report of a WHO Study Group. WHO Technical Report Series 797, Geneva 1990
  • Dr. Joe A. Vinson, “The Functional Food Properties of Figs,” Cereal Foods World, February 1999, vol. 44, no. 2
  • “Honey A Source of Antioxidants,” Journal of Apicultural Research, 1998, 37:221-225, http://www.nutritionfarm.com/health_news/1998/antioxidants4.htm; Janet Raloff, “The Color of Honey,” www.sciencenews.org/sn_arc98/9_12_98/Bob1.htm.
  • “Honey As Medicine—Australia Produces A World’s First!,” San Diego Earth Times, January 2000, http://www.sdearthtimes.com/et0100/et0100s17.html


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Eat less Fat or Carbohydrate for Good Health? The Crucial piece of the Diet puzzle

Important findings from nutrition research in the last few years have unraveled some serious misunderstanding of macro nutrient biochemistry suggesting that our previous dietary recommendations for heart disease and diabetes may have been misleading. The new findings have been difficult to digest by many who are have been trained to think a certain way – that carbohydrate is GOOD and saturated fat is BAD. In this blog post, I hope to dispel some of the outdated recommendations for heart disease that are still very common and discuss some recent guidelines that are backed up by strong research and being endorsed by health organisations around the world as we speak.

The latest evidence from a Meta Analysis (1) tells us that the risks for coronary heart disease associated with saturated fat and carbohydrate are the same. In other words, if you take carbohydrate (for eg. rice) and exchange half the calories for saturated fat (for eg. as in cake), there is no detriment or benefit. This isn’t saying that cake is better than we thought; it’s that rice is worse.

In fact, it is particularly challenging to accept based on the evidence that high GI carbohydrate may actually lead to greater coronary risk than saturated fat. (2)

This is not to say that saturated fat is not a problematic nutrient. It most definitely is. What needs to happen is that saturated fat in the diet should be replaced by unsaturated fats, not carbohydrate. Unsaturated fats, especially polyunsaturated fats, have been shown in numerous studies to lower LDL cholesterol and increase HDL. As a consequence, healthy diets should be moderate in fat, not low in fat.

But how do we know which carbohydrate foods to cut out and which to keep?

Not all carbohydrates are created equal. Two things that will affect the quality of carbohydrates are its GI and its nutrient density. Low GI carbohydrates are digested slowly and released slowly into the blood stream allowing insulin to do its work steadily. High GI foods (where the carbohydrate is broken down very quickly causing a huge spike in the bloodstream) will require large amounts of insulin to clear up. It is therefore best to choose low GI carbohydrates are whenever possible.

Another factor that will determine which carbohydrates we need to choose is its nutrient density. Nutrient density is important because at the end of the day, the fundamental nutritional role of food is to provide the body with essential nutrients.

Both nutrient density and glycaemic index are important criteria to determine whether or not the carbohydrate is a ‘good’ one.  Both of these were used in a new model published a few months ago in the journal of Nutrition and dietetics to assess the quality of carbohydrate-rich foods. (For detailed information on the new model and recommendations, please go here: http://scepticalnutritionist.com.au/?p=369)

The model brought to light some surprising issues while confirming some familiar trends. To simplify the results, I separated them into two distinct groups, those of high quality and those of poor quality.

Carbohydrate foods of high nutritional quality – have more often

  • Legumes (eg. kidney beans, soya beans, baked beans, split peas)
  • Milk (skim milk better than full fat or flavoured milk)
  • Yoghurts (low fat yoghurt better than the full fat alternatives)
  • Vegetables (carrots, peas were better than starchy vegetables like potato)
  • Fruits (top rated fruits include orange, nectarine, mango, banana and peach)
  • Cereals like All bran, special K and sustain

Carbohydrate foods with very poor nutritional quality – have only sometimes/in small amounts

  • White rice
  • Polenta
  • Couscous
  • Biscuits
  • Donut
  • Croissant
  • Sugary drinks (cordial, soft drinks, even apple juice!)
  • Chocolate (like mars and snickers)

So how will this new model translate into how we eat on a day to day basis? It really comes down to these guidelines:

1) Decrease saturated fat intake.

Ways to do this include choosing reduced fat dairy like skim and low fat milk. When cooking meats, make sure you trim the fat. Replace butter with soft, plant based margarines.

2) Decrease carbohydrate intake 

Cut out the unnecessary carbs found in the limit list. They have very poor nutrition and are simply empty calories. If you are someone who has a lot of rice, choose the rice variety with the lowest GI, basmati rice, and have LESS of it. 1/2 – 1 cup of cooked rice is plenty.

3) Replace what you have cut back on by having more unsaturated fats.

Add unsaturated oils (such as canola, sun flower or olive oil) when cooking. Add olive oil to salads and when baking or roasting. Have a small handful of nuts everyday. Choose more fish, especially fatty fish like salmon and tuna. For a good list of unsaturated fats, go here:

http://daa.asn.au/for-the-public/smart-eating-for-you/nutrition-a-z/unsaturated-fats/

Do keep in mind that the goal is to REPLACE the saturated fats with the unsaturated, not to go overboard on oils.

In conclusion, strong evidence suggests that such a diet that is MODERATE in fat, LOW in carbohydrate, and moderate-high in protein would assist in improving your lipid profile, preventing chronic diseases like CHD and diabetes, assist in good sugar control and no doubt an ideal way to go for weight loss.

References:

1) Mozaffarian D. Effects on coronary heart disease of increasing polyunsaturated fat in place of saturated fat: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.

2) Jakobsen MU et al. Intake of carbohydrates compared with intake of saturated fatty acids and risk of myocardial infarction: importance of the glycemic index. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Jun;91(6):1764-8.)


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Your Guide to Choosing Halal Medicine – Guest Post

Every Muslim understands that there are certain substances that are allowed by Allah (swt) to consume, and there are those that are forbidden. This also applies to substances consumed as medicine. There are a variety of ingredients in medicines, or medicines themselves, that may be considered unlawful in normal circumstances such as gelatine, alcoholic preserves, and those that are porcine-derived. The matter is clearly one that can be quite controversial.


More recently, the Halal quality of medicines have been quite popular topics of discussion. This follows the development of the concept of “Halal certification” in some parts of the world such as Sydney, where medicine ingredients have been analysed by a certifying board and deemed appropriate for consumption. This differs from the process of Halal food certification, as the manufacturing processes are not taken into account. For more on this, go to http://www.halalmedicines.com.au/index.html
Owing to the nature of my profession in the medicines/pharmacy field at the moment, I have been invited by the dear author of this blog to say a few words regarding Halal medicines. It is important for every patient to be actively involved in all aspects of their healthcare including the foods they eat And the medications they take. This will allow for a better understanding of options out there and empowerment in looking after yourself.
I will endeavour not to get too stuck into the religious controversy of the matter, as I understand that each school of thought has their own justification for their stance and I respect their knowledge and decisions. Allah (swt) knows best.

MAIN SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT

Many scholars have taken Quranic verses and incidences of Sunnah into account to make their conclusions. To summarise:
• The medicine must be essential to the life of the Muslim
• No other permissible substitutes are at all available
• The medicine is known to be effective
• Some say the treatment must be guided by an expert Muslim doctor
(This list is not intended to cover the full extent of the issue, and the reader is advised to look into this further).

PRACTICAL TIPS FOR YOUR MEDICINES

Gelatine

In the efforts to avoid (un-halal) gelatine, it is useful to know that many medicines come in a variety of forms, including tablets, powders and liquids. Often gelatine capsules are not the only option so it is encouraged to enquire about this.
Also, certain brands do endeavour to use non-animal sources of gelatine in order to make their products suitable to vegetarians (often called vege-caps).
One other way to avoid consuming gelatine capsules is to ask your doctor or pharmacist whether you can open the capsule. Often the capsule is just a unit for the medicine to be stored in, and has no value in therapy. Some capsules can be opened to reveal granules inside that contain the active components of your medicine, which can sometimes be sprinkled onto food or mixed in small amounts of liquid to consume. However, I do stress that not all capsules are suitable for opening and it is essential to check with you healthcare professional before you tamper with the way the medicine is taken.

Animal-derived medicines
There are a number of medicines or ingredients that are porcine-derived or pig based, or derived from other animals. Over recent years, the majority of these have been replaced by synthetic agents using more advanced development methods. Today, the main categories of medicines may that contain these are some insulins, pancreatic enzymes, and blood thinners. How would you know if your medicine contains animal-derived ingredients?
• Contact the manufacturer’s medicines information department
• The words ‘porcine’ (pig) or ‘bovine’ (cattle) in the name or ingredients
• Patient information leaflet
• Seeking the advice from your healthcare provider

Alcoholic ingredients
Alcohol is commonly used as a sterile vehicle in which medicines can be kept in liquid form. It has been used for centuries in medications as it is inexpensive and easy to access. However, in more recent times, many medicine brands are recognising the market that prefers alcohol-free products. This is why many products now come in an alcohol- or ethanol- free version, and it is a good idea to look into this when purchasing liquid medicines, most commonly used in children or as cough syrups.
Another option is to enquire as to whether your liquid medicine comes in a tablet or capsule form, that you may be able to dissolve or disperse in water or juice (if appropriate) if you require a liquid product to take.

References:

http://www.shariahprogram.ca/eat-halal-foods/using-unlawful-medication.shtml

Mynors G et. al (2004) Informed choice in medicine taking: Drugs of Porcine Origin and their Clinical Alternatives: An Introductory Guide. Accessed July 2012 at: http://www.keele.ac.uk

By Azmena Hussain, Graduate Pharmacist


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How to Lose Weight this Ramadan

Are you overweight and tired of trying to lose weight? Tried many different diets, only to fail and gain it all back on?

This Ramadan, why not get committed to making yourself healthier? There is no better time to take control of your nafs and becoming closer to God with a healthier mind and body. This simple, but delicious meal plan with make sure you lose about 2 to 5kg with this diet, depending on how committed you are and when you start. It is balanced and full of nutrition to ensure you get most of the vitamins and minerals you need – even during Ramadan.

IFTAR

Image

• Protein – 250g meat or chicken or fish (cook it the way you like!)
• 2 Bowls of Vegetable OR noodle soup
• 3 cups of Salad (tabouli/fatoush/garden/Caesar salad)
• Choose one of these carbs: ½ cup rice or 1 cup pasta OR 1 medium potato OR 1 slice bread or ½ Lebanese bread
• At least 500ml of Water throughout the meal

For desert, try to have fresh fruit. If you are offered other sweets, (e.g. cake or arab/Indian sweet), have some! But try to have a piece as big as your 2 fingers only. Its all about moderation!

If u r still hungry, have more water, salad or soup.

Image

SUHUR

OPTION 1
• Low fat yoghurt (choose any flavour you like, but check the back to make sure its not high in added sugar).
• 2 pieces of toast with low fat cheese OR egg OR jam/vegemite
• Water/ tea

OPTION 2
• 1 piece of toast with low fat cheese OR egg OR jam/vegemite
• I cup of cereal with light milk
• Water/tea

OPTION 3
• Fresh fruit
• Uncle Toby’s crunchy muesli bar
• Water/tea

And finally, get moving!
Go for a walk for 20 mins – or longer everyday. Park your car 10 mins away from the mosque and walk to prayer. 20 mins is really not that long. You can spread it throughout the day into 5 min blocks -as long you do it!

On this eating/exercise plan, you should easily lose ½ to 1kh per week iA. The meals can be very delicious depending on how you cook them. Spice it up with different types of soups and lots of flavours. Vary your options each day and why not make it a lot more fun by getting a family member or friend to do it with you?

For those who just cannot follow a meal plan or dislike the simplicity of the above, I would highly recommend that you read this article by muslim matters which is funny, interesting and an effective step by step guide to Ramadan weight loss.

http://muslimmatters.org/2012/07/25/5-step-guide-to-healthy-ramadan-weight-loss/

All the best! :) And Ramadan Mubarak!


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The latest advice on starting solids

INTRODUCING SOLIDS


The reason I chose to write on this topic today is because of the increasing confusion new mothers have on what they should be feeding their kids, as well as to also develop my growing interest to specialize in paediatrics.

It is actually recommended that parents don’t start feeding solids before 4-6 months. It is not safe to start feeding before this time because the baby’s digestive system is an intricate delicate system that continues to develop after birth. Muscles that support the digestive system have still not developed yet, and food will be unable to pass safely through if introduced when the baby is not ready. At 4-6 months, the baby’s digestive system has usually developed enough for solid foods. The jury is still out on whether it should be 4 or 6 months, but the latest Australian Paediatric guidelines recommend to not start any solids before 6 months.

Ideal first foods


The first solids need to be sloppy, smooth in texture (i.e. have no lumps) and mild in taste.

Baby rice cereal is an excellent first solid food because of its smooth texture and high iron content. Mix it with a little human milk, formula or cool, boiled water.

Other pureed foods to introduce are: vegetables such as pumpkin, potato, carrot and zucchini; fruit such as cooked apple, pear, melon and banana.

It isn’t necessary to add salt, sugar, honey or other flavourings to any food.


Feeding


First start with one to two teaspoons of solids. You can gradually increase the quantity to two to three tablespoons, and then build up to three meals a day at your baby’s own pace.
It is important that you try one new food at a time and introduce a new food every 4 days, adding onto your child’s existing diet. This can help keep track of any adverse side effects that may arise if your child is allergic to a type of food, as you’ll be able to tell which one triggered a reaction.
It is therefore not recommended that you do not give combinations until the child has already had both foods and you’re sure there is no allergic reaction.
To save time, quantities of food can be frozen in ice cube trays or stored in airtight plastic bags and thawed as needed.

How about commercial baby foods?


Commercial baby foods are a good option for parents who don’t have time to make the food themselves. However, do take some time to read store-bought food labels. Generic brands can be just as healthy as some of the brand-name foods. You just need to take a minute or two to look at the ingredients. The fewer ingredients, the better it is.
The advantages of home-made baby foods is that parents have complete control over the ingredients, making homemade food a good option for infants with allergies or intolerances. Some parents also worry about preservatives that may be added to some commercial foods. Others complain that commercial varieties are too bland. In addition, home-making food can save lots of money.

However, my advice is that no matter which route you choose to take, homemade or commercial foods, the main goal is to make sure the baby gets adequate nutrition in order to grow healthy and reach all the developmental milestones.
This is definitely a preliminary guide, if you have any questions please feel free to ask below. :)


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The ABCD of Healthy Eating

With a myriad of information on the internet and all sorts of nutritional advice hitting you left, right and centre, it can be really confusing knowing what to eat, and how much.  To make sure you are getting all the nutrients you need for optimal health, and reduce the number of trips to your GP now, and 10 years from now, do the best for your health by making the right choices Now! Eating healthy is not hard at all and it doesn’t mean you have to say good bye to all your favourite guilty pleasures. SMALL changes here and there can make a BIG difference.

1) Firstly, why should you worry about healthy eating?

Healthy eating will help you get the right balance of vitaminsminerals, and other nutrients. Besides the obvious advantages of looking and feeling your best, healthy eating is one of the best things you do to prevent and control many health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer, to name a few. They weren’t joking when they said ‘an apple a day, keeps the doctor away’.

Furthermore, poor nutrition and overeating is the main reason behind our current obesity and diabetes epidemic. Poor nutrition is associated with serious health risks such as  impaired wound healing, higher risk of infection & impaired mental and physical function.

2) What is the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating (AGHE)?

The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating is the national food selection guide prepared by the Australian government to provide consumers, health and education professionals and the food industry with information about the amounts and types of food that need to be eaten each day to get enough of the nutrients essential for good health and well-being.

Just a word of warning, these guidelines are OK for most healthy people to follow. However,  if you are suffering from any health conditions like renal disease or diabetes, make sure you speak to a specialised Accredited Practising Dietitian to provide you with individualised nutrition advice.

3) What are the major food groups and why should I make sure to eat from all of them?

There are five food groups, namely:

1)       Breads, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles

2)      Vegetables, legumes

3)      Fruit

4)      Milk, yoghurt, cheese

5)      Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, legumes

Each of these foods plays a role and different foods provide more of some nutrients than others. It is therefore important that you are consuming a variety of foods from each food group.

4) Tell me more about these groups and how I can include more in my diet?

a) Breads and Cereal:

›      The breads and cereal group includes wheat, maize (corn), rice, barley, sorghum, oats, rye and millet.

This group contain carbohydrate, dietary fibre and some important vitamins and minerals.

›      Most nutritious cereal foods are wholegrain. Examples of wholegrain foods are high fibre breakfast cereals, whole meal breads and pasta, crispbreads, oatmeal and brown rice

Healthy Tips to get you started!

  • Switch from white bread to multigrain bread
  • Eat wholegrain cereal for breakfast.
  • Have 5-7 serves a day.
What is a serve?
1 slice of bread 1 medium bread roll 1 cup cooked rice, pasta, noodles
1 cup porridge 1 cup breakfast cereal flakes Or ½ cup muesli

 

 

 

 

 

b) Vegetables and  legumes

  • These are excellent source of essential vitamins, minerals, as well as dietary fibre & carbohydrates.
  •  The goodness of vegetables may be lessened or increased by cooking.
  • Stir-frying, microwaving or steaming are ideal ways to cook vegetables.
  •  The word legumes includes lentils, beans and peas.

Healthy Tips!

  •  Enjoy a variety of vegetables everyday. Include dark green vegetables like spinach and broccoli, orange vegetables like pumpkin and carrots and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower.
  •  Buy vegetables in season
  •  Use frozen and canned vegetables as an alternative to fresh
  •  Eat some vegetables raw or slightly cooked for maximum nutrition
  •  Have five serves a day
What is a serve?
1 cup salad vegetables
½ cup cooked vegetables

c) Fruit

  • ›      Fruits are a good source of vitamins, including vitamin C and folate.
  • ›      Fibre is found in the skin of fruits so juices contain much lower fibre than fruit juice. Eating the fruit is therefore much better than having just the juice.
  • ›      Dried fruit also belong to this group.

Healthy Tips!

  • Eat a wide variety of fruit each week. Include apples and pears, citrus fruits, melons and berries
  • Buy fruit in season, as this is best value for money
  • Use canned fruit as a nutritious replacement
  • Dried fruit is nutritious and adds variety, but can cause tooth decay
  • Enjoy at least two serves of fruit
  •  Try to limit fruit juice to one serve
What is a serve?
1 medium size fruit eg apple, pear, orange
½ cup fruit juice
Dried fruit eg 5 apricot pieces

d) Milk, Yoghurt and Cheese

  • ›      Excellent source of calcium, very few other foods contain as much of this
  •       Good for stronger bones and teeth
  • ›       Milk can be fresh, fried, evaporated or long-life
  • ›      The fat content of your diet can be increased if you choose full cream products
  • ›      For most people, five years and older, best choices are low fat

Healthy Tips!

  • Soft cheeses like cottage cheese and ricotta are too low in calcium so cannot be counted as a serve
  • Choose reduced fat varieties
  • If you don’t like drinking milk or eating yoghurt or cheese, try adding it to foods when cooking
  • Can also have fortified soy milk, almonds, sardines or pink salmon with bones
  • Have two to three serves each day
What is a serve?
250ml milk
2 slices of cheese
1 tub of yoghurt (200g)
250ml custard

e) Meat, fish and poulty

  • ›      Beef, lamb, fish, poultry, eggs, shellfish, nuts and legumes are included in this group.
  • ›      All are excellent sources of protein, iron, niacin and vitamin B12
  • ›      Best sources of iron are beef and lamb
  • ›      Enjoy lean red meat three or four times a week.

Healthy tips!

  • Have 1 serve of meat a day.
  • Choose lean cuts of meat rather than sausages and processed meat
  • Try to eat one or two fish meals a week.
What is a serve?
Meat – the size of your palm
2 small eggs
½ cup cooked lentils
Water – drink up!
  • Water is the best drink to quench your thirst.
  • ›For good health, make sure you are drinking at least 8 glasses of water everyday.
  • ›You will need more during physical activity and in hot weather.
  • ›All fluids contribute to this requirement (except for alcoholic drinks).
›
 4) How about foods that do not fit into the five groups?

These foods are called extra foods and are foods that do not fit into the five groups

  • ›      They are not essential to provide the nutrients the body needs
  • ›      Some contain too much added fat, salt and sugars & contribute large amounts of energy
  • ›      Can be added to the enjoyment of eating a healthy diet!

›

5) Where can I download the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating booklet?

Right here!

http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/health-pubhlth-publicat-document-fdcons-cnt.htm

7) How do I know how well I am doing and where I need to improve? 

To assess your current diet and where you need to improve, take this quick quiz produced by the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) to find out!

http://daa.asn.au/for-the-public/smart-eating-for-you/healthy-eating-self-assessment/

That’s healthy eating in a nutshell. Now that you have all the right information, there is no need to wait longer. Make the switch today. Start with small changes that you can make to your diet and build up gradually.

What are 3 changes you can make most easily to eat in a healthier way?

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