Nutrition 101: Eating well doesn’t have to be complicated or confusing
When it comes to health, there is no advice advocated more often than a healthy diet with lots of vegetables, fruit and quality proteins. We all know this. Yet in 2016, Australia’s largest ever fruit and vegetable survey found that four out of five Australian adults are not eating enough fruit and vegetables in order to meet the Australian Dietary Guidelines. The Fruit, Vegetable and Diet Score Report, produced by the CSIRO, looked at the dietary habits of adults across Australia over an 18-month period with 145,975 participants nationwide, this survey is the largest of its kind ever conducted in Australia.
The results from this report showed:
- 51% of Australia’s are not meeting the Australian guidelines for fruit.
- 65% don’t meet the Australian guidelines for Vegetable intake.
- Only 24% of women and 15% of men meet both the fruit and vegetables guidelines.
This is alarming as it’s one of the easiest and most powerful ways to not only boost health and vitality but to heal and prevent disease.
So, what are the guidelines, and how can we reach them?
Fruit and Vegetable Recommendations:
The Australian Guidelines are to eat 5 x serves of vegetables and 2 x serves of fruit daily.
What is a serve of Vegetables? A standard serve is about 75grams.
• 1/2 cup of cooked green or orange vegetables (broccoli, spinach, carrot, pumpkin)
• 1/2 cup of cooked or dried beans, peas or lentils
• 1 cup green leafy or raw salad vegetables
• 1/2 cup sweet corn
• 1/2 medium potato or other starchy vegetables (sweet potato, taro, cassava)
• 1 medium tomato
This amount is for baseline, adequate nutrition only. For optimal well-being and vitality, more would be considered better. Take a moment to think about what you ate yesterday for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks? What about the day before? Write a food diary of the last week, highlighting your fruit and veg intake. Did you hit the targets daily?
Below are some general tips to help you get started on getting these serves daily.
• Eat a rainbow. Daily. Vegetables contain a wide range of nutrients, micro-nutrients, vitamins and photo-chemical that work
in synergy with each other. We need to eat a wide variety of vegetables to receive an adequate dose of all of these.
• 50% of most meals should be vegetable based. When arranging your plate, have 1/2 full of vegetables,
1/4 good quality protein, 1/4 whole grains and some good fats.
• Snack on fruit away from meals. At the start of the week, buy a large box of fruit to take into the office so you have something healthy to snack on.
This will decrease the temptation to reach for the office lolly jar.
• Protein intake should be adequate also. You should aim for around 1g of protein per kg of body weight. Aim for protein with every meal, and from a
variety of sources, animal and plant. The CSIRO recommends higher protein for weight loss and advocates for 25g at breakfast, 25g at lunch, 40g at dinner, 10g snacks
• An easy tip for increasing vegetable intake is to add 1 cup of baby spinach on your plate, under your meal, whatever that may be -
spaghetti, chicken, etc. The spinach will wilt, and you’ll hardly notice it’s there. This is an easy way to boost nutrient intake, initially, without changing your
diet radically as it takes time to make shifts and change dietary habits.
• As soon as you get home from work, turn on the oven to 200 degrees, chop up roughly into small pieces a couple of cups of pumpkin,
sweet potato, carrots, any veg really, drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pop into the oven. Within 20 minutes, while you change, shower,
take a moment to sit and unwind, you’ll have a bunch of vegetables that’ll be a perfect side for any dish.
• Take a small side salad with each meal. Make your own salad dressings to avoid added sugar, salt, and preservatives in your diet.
To make a simple and healthy salad dressing, mix fresh lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste.
You can add any herbs and spices you like to this such as garlic, ginger, thyme, basil, etc.
• Aim to ‘crowd out’ the nutrient depleting foods. These include gluten foods, processed carbohydrates (white flours), sugar and foods
high in refined oils. Instead of focusing on what you can't or shouldn’t eat, focus instead on hitting the targets for your daily vegetable, fruit and
protein intake. This will naturally and effortlessly crowd out the foods which aren’t of service to us.
• Sign up to vegetable and fruit boxes from your local farmers market. There are services across Australia where you can get delivered to your door,
a box full of seasonal, fresh and local fruit and vegetables weekly. The key to healthy eating isn’t to avoid temptation, it's setting yourself up for success.
If you are pushed for time, these are great services that support you in having fresh, delicious and inspiring produce stocked in the home, and as a bonus,
you’re supporting your local community and farmers.
• Get creative, veggies and fruit can go everywhere!
Spaghetti sauce- Add carrots, onions, celery, mushrooms, spinach or kale to the sauce to boost the nutrition level.
Spaghetti Noodles- try using zucchini thinly sliced as noodles, or baking a spaghetti squash and using it’s flesh as the “noodles” for your sauce.
Muffins– Add grated apple, banana, carrots or zucchini to the batter.
Breakfast Pancakes– Try sweet potato or pumpkin pancakes for more nutrition and a pop of colour.
Breakfast Frittata- add loads of veg to your morning frittata like tomatoes, onions, zucchini, carrots, mushrooms, spinach, kale, capsicum or broccoli.
Rice– use grated cauliflower in-lieu of rice as a side dish. Finely grate the cauliflower, sauté it in a small amount of olive oil or coconut oil and add some parsley for a quick, easy, healthy carb-substitute.
As our obesity rates and the epidemic of type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease continue to skyrocket, it's evident we need to forget the fad diets, disregard the flashy advertisement claiming to offer us the latest solution to our health problems and come back to the basics.
When it comes to healthy eating, we need to make a lifestyle change - changes that nurture and heal the body from the inside-out and develop a balanced eating pattern that we’ll be able to maintain for the rest of our lives.
It’s the basics of healthy eating that remain tried and true.
Author: Tegan Wallis
Tegan is an Naturopath, Ayurveda Health Consultant and Yoga Teacher at Griffith Consulting's sister company, Veda Wellness.
Tegan is one of Griffith Consulting's key program facilitators and specialises in workplace health & wellness.
For more information about Tegan or her services, please go to: www.vedawellness.com.au