The USDA suggests that you get about 50% of your calories from carbohydrates, 30% from fats and 20% from protein. Eating the recommended servings of each food group in the right proportion should get you the recommended amounts of nutrients without consuming too many calories. Use meal planning and portion sizes to make sure you get just the right amounts of everything. A healthy diet is one that helps to maintain or improve overall health. It provides the body with essential nutrition like fluids, adequate essential amino acids from protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and adequate calories. A healthy diet should be made up of the correct ratios of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
A lot of people have portion distortion problem with their meals. It can sometimes be difficult to picture just how big a serving of a food should ideally be. Also, an uncontrolled portion size is sure to make you eat too much! As I always say, the trick is to read labels. You may also use a kitchen scale if portion sizes for packaged foods are too much or too little for you. It is always good to be more careful when eating out at restaurants, coffee shops and hotels. The bagels that you deliciously munch on, amount to about 5 servings of bread. Yes! A supersized meal at a fast food restaurant contains more calories than you will need for the whole day, and yet it leaves you hungry within a couple of hours after eating. So, watch what you eat, an don’t get carried away by the moods of other people in the group.
I am not saying it is going to be easy, but it is surely going to be worth the effort! Here are a few quick tips to recognize portion sizes of healthy foods at meal times:
· 1 cup of pasta – one serving is about the size of a tightly closed fist
· 2 cups of green leafy vegetables – one serving is about the size of two closed fists
· 2 ounces of cheese – one serving is about the size of 2 dominoes
1 cup of green vegetables – one serving is about the size of a tennis ball
· 3 ounces of meat – one serving is about the size of a deck of cards
· 2 tablespoons of peanut butter – one serving is about the size of a ping-pong ball
Divide your plate into four quarters while serving your meal on it.
Quarter 1 – this should be your serving of meat or protein.
Quarter 2 - this is for one serving of starchy carbohydrates such as cereal, pasta, rice, bread, corn, potatoes etc.
Quarter 3 and quarter 4 should be filled with fruit, lower calorie vegetables and / or salad
Margarine, butter, gravy, sauces, and cheesy toppings add calories to your plate and you should use them sparingly, only enough to add flavour to the food. Olive oil, herbs, lemon juice and spices are a healthy replacement to these and can add equally good flavor to your meal.
Don't Skip Meals
Make it a habit to eat regularly. Whether you prefer three bigger meals per day or 3 smaller meals and a couple of snacks, skipping should be avoided. A lot of people see this as a good weight loss technique, but it backfires in more ways that your body is prepared to handle. When you feel like you're starving later in the day, you wolf down even more calories than you need. Don’t do that to yourself.
In my next blog, I am going to discuss some more tips for balanced diet. Please share your experiences and recipes and I will add them to my future blogs.