By Li Ern Tan | Dietitian - 27th May 2019
Is healthy eating difficult for you?
What if we tell you that you don’t have to cut out the foods you love or a certain food group to eat healthy? Sounds good doesn't it, who’s in? *Raise both hands up*
Most people are reluctant to restrict their eating habits but still want healthy eating to be an enjoyable part of their everyday routine.
Let’s face it – practicing a fad diet can be very overwhelming and difficult to sustain. In fact, eliminating food groups from one’s diet may lead to nutritional deficiencies or excesses which can result in serious health problems.
Healthy eating is really easy if you follow these simple tips:-
According to the Malaysian Dietary Guideline, a healthy diet provides the right combination of energy and nutrients. Thus, we should not consume only one food group - as our body will not be able to get the benefits of all nutrients needed.
A healthy diet does not eliminate specific food group.
Here’s where the Healthy Plate comes in - it’s a simple visual guide to remind us to eat balanced and nutritious meals. It's so simple that you can even practice it when you're eating out :)
Make your plate healthy and balanced in three steps:
- Fill half of the plate with vegetables and fruits
- Fill a quarter with cereals, cereal products and tubers (carbohydrates)
- Fill a quarter of the plate with fish, poultry, meat, egg or legumes; go lean. (protein)
A,B,C on your plate
A healthy, balanced diet requires various food choices from each of the food groups.
Eating a wide assortment of whole foods from each food groups on Healthy Plate not only helps to meet your calorie needs; obtain important nutrients in balanced amounts but it also builds healthy eating habits when planning or preparing meals.
There is no single food (even within the same food group) that is better than the other. All the foods have different vitamins, minerals and micronutrients that our body needs. For instance, banana is high in potassium, whereas guava is high in vitamin C.
Examples of Food Groups includes:
Carbohydrates - Cereal, cereal products (eg. rice, noodles, bread) and tubers:
- Make half your grains whole grains
- Go for wholegrain cereal products as much as possible
- If you have difficulty accepting totally whole grain, you can mix white rice with brown rice for a start
Vegetables and fruits
- Choose a different vegetable and fruit for each meal (Vary your vegetables)
- Go fresh!
- Eat a rainbow! - Have a colorful variety of vegetables and fruits
- Focus on whole fruits (Choose whole fruits over 100% fruit juice for more fibre)
Fish, poultry, meat, egg & legumes
- Vary your protein choices
- Choose a variety of protein foods from both plant and animal sources
- Choose lean meat and poultry such as fish and chicken
Milk and milk products
- Switch to low-fat (1%) or fat-free (skim) milk and yoghurt
- Choose plain milk and plain yogurt. Flavoured milk and yoghurt should be consumed less frequent as they generally contain more sugar
Too much or Too little is not enough
Moderation is the key.
The amount of food (and frequency) you eat is one of the most important key points in eating healthy. How much you eat and drink can affect your weight and overall health.
We know it can be really tempting to eat this food and that food (We feel you!) but be mindful that introducing variety of unhealthy food (junk food, processed food, deep fried food items etc.) in your diet may result to you eating too many high-calorie foods which lack nutrients - if moderation is not practiced.
It's also important to choose food that have a moderate or low fat content such as opting for low-fat or skimmed milk & dairy products and limiting processed and fried foods.
Don't forget to moderate your salt and sugar too! Opt for food choices which are low in salt and added sugar to reduce risk of Type 2 Diabetes and Hypertension.
(Check out our upcoming post as we share the recommended serving size)
To further guide you, here are some key messages!
Malaysian Healthy Plate Model and Key Messages
1. Consume 3 regular healthy main meals everyday - BREAKFAST, LUNCH & DINNER! (Dont's skip breakfast)
2. Consume 1-2 servings of healthy snacks between meals when necessary
3. Consume at least half of your grains from wholegrains
4. Consume non-fried and santan-free dishes everyday
5. Consume home cooked foods more often
6. Drink atleast 8 glasses of water everyday
Eating healthy ensures you’re more likely to feel energized, stay active for longer time and protect yourself against illness. Remember - a healthy diet doesn’t have to be boring or expensive and it’s never too late to start eating healthily.
1. Ministry of Health Malaysia, National Coordinating Committee on Food and Nutrition. Malaysia Dietary Guidelines. 2010
2. Guide to Healthy Eating & Active Living. Nutrition Society of Malaysia. 2019
Article originally written by Tan Li Ern for Vease Nutrition.
Article edited by Jowynna Yeo, Founder & Dietitian at Vease Nutrition