What do you understand about healthy diet?
Feel that nutrition is complicated with ever changing updates and news? Not sure where to kick start to understand about nutrition and adopt a healthy diet?
Yes, you are right. Nutrition and diet are keep evolving. However, there are basic knowledge which forms the foundation of nutrition and diet. Understanding these basic nutrition will help you to seek for correct and useful information through the latest advice or research to develop a healthy diet plan.
As a basic, you need to know about the main nutrient sources which provide you energy. Carbohydrate, protein and fat are 3 main nutrients from food and drinks that supply calories/ energy.
- 1 gram of carbohydrate contains 4 calories
- 1 gram of protein contains 4 calories
- 1 gram of fat contains 9 calories
A standard meal plan generally comprised of 45-60% total energy from carbohydrate, 15-20% total energy from protein and 25-35% total energy from fat. If your energy requirement is 1500 kcal per day, you will need to have 206g carbohydrate (55%), 75g protein (20%) and 42g fat (25%) in your daily meals.
How much you need to eat to achieve your energy and nutrient requirement?
Rather than counting the grams of carbohydrate, protein and fat intakes, or serving size of each food groups, there is an easier way to guide you plans a healthy balanced diet. Basically, you can divide your eating plate into quarters – fill up half with fruits and vegetables, quarter with whole-grains and the remaining quarter with protein-rich foods. More details can be referred to ‘Healthy Eating’.
Any diet plan that eliminating one or more food groups or consumption of one type of food at the expense of other foods (e.g. low carb diet, low fat diet, detox diet, blood type diet) can lead to imbalance of nutrient intake and put you at risk of nutritional deficiencies or increases your risk of certain diseases.
In short, to look for information about healthy diet plans, make sure you refer to the one that consider:
- Food variety – eat foods from the major food groups, including fruits and vegetables, grains (i.e. whole-grains) and protein foods (e.g. lean meat, poultry, seafood, soy products, beans and legumes, low-fat dairy products)
- Serving size – the right amount of food to be taken from each group
- Food availability – where you can get them conveniently from local shops or markets
- Tastes and preferences, lifestyle habits and budget – so that you can comply and stay on the healthy meal plan over long-term
- Health status – if having health problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, more attention need to be focused on the intakes of salt/ sodium, saturated fat, cholesterol and carbohydrate/ sugar. Discuss with dietitian to have your personalized meal plan.