Making the first step to “eating healthy” can feel overwhelming. With all the information out there, it’s hard to really work out how much of what foods we should be eating each day, let alone each meal. Building a habit to regularly eat healthier foods is a key part of long-term weight loss. Here, the proportion of each food group per meal is just as important as the types of foods we’re eating.
Whether you’re looking to make a start to eat healthier or are following your Weight Doctors treatment, we’re here to make this easier for you.
How to build your healthy and balanced meal
1) Fill the majority of your plate with fruits and vegetables (½ your plate)
Eat fruits and vegetables of a wide variety and colours! Preferably eat as fresh or frozen, and avoid dried and fried varieties. While it’s easy to think this is a free pass to eating fries or crisps, choose healthier methods to prepare potatoes: think boiled, baked, grilled and occasionally air-fried.
2) Choose whole grains (1/4 of your plate)
Brown rice, quinoa, barley, oats, whole wheat bread and -pasta, are all healthy sources of wholegrain products. Wholegrain products contain more fibre and help keep you fuller for longer compared to refined grain products like white rice, pasta and white bread.
3) Add lean fat protein sources (1/4 of your plate)
Fish and seafood, lean meat, poultry, beans, legumes, soy, eggs, and nuts are all healthy sources of protein. Look for protein sources that are “low in fat” (< 5% fat content) and do not contain many additives, in particular added salt. Fresh, frozen, and canned sources of protein are all acceptable. Enjoy your protein in a mixed vegetable salad, or alongside your favourite vegetables and grains. Prepare with little additional fats and as simple as possible e.g. grilled, baked, or steamed.
4) Enjoy plant based oils in moderation
Opt for plant based oils, like olive, rapeseed, linseed and walnut. Avoid artificial trans fats (or, partially hydrogenated oils), as they increase your risk of developing heart disease or stroke. Trans fats can be found in packaged snacks, fried foods, pizza, pre-made and store-bought baked goods, cookies and biscuits. Vegetable oils can be high in calories, therefore use in moderation.
Use a spoon to measure the amount of oil added to dressings, marinades or to the frying pan to know exactly how much you’re consuming.
5) Aim for 2 litres of water per day
Make water your number one choice, with unsweetened tea and black coffee good additions. Add berries, slices of citrus fruit or fresh herbs to water for additional flavour. Limit juices, soft-drinks, sweetened coffee drinks and alcohol.
The balanced plate
“The Balanced Plate” is a helpful visual guide for healthy eating at meal times. Print off the healthy plate and stick it on to your fridge to use as a daily guide when planning and preparing your meals!