Most people have the desire to eat healthy meals, but sometimes healthy eating can feel out of reach. Since there are often barriers that could come into play when people are trying to eat a healthy diet, here are some basic guidelines that we can all refer to.
How do we know that we are getting enough protein or nutrients? Sometimes it’s hard to measure, but a way we can do our best to check all these boxes is by eating a variety of foods from all five food groups. The five food groups include vegetables and legumes, fruits, grains, lean meats (tofu, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, and seeds), and dairy products or dairy alternatives. I personally enjoy following the rule of trying to eat a colorful plate. Keeping a colorful plate generally will help to ensure you are getting a variety of nutrients into your diet (no this does not mean eating a bag of skittles, though there is no harm in the occasional treat!) It’s more about creating a balance, which I find comes easily when eating colorful natural foods. Eating from all five food groups will naturally create a colorful plate! Think of all the colorful foods out there that give us different nutrients: broccoli, blueberries, eggplant, strawberries, oranges, salmon, eggs, milk – just those foods listed cover the whole rainbow and they each provide us with unique health benefits. For example, one colorful plate could look like this: toasted bread topped with peanut butter and banana, with an egg scrambled with whatever your favorite veggies are (mine would be red pepper, mushrooms, spinach) enjoyed with a cup of coffee or tea with some milk (or alternative milk). Here we can spot that we have one or two items from each food group! The bread is our whole grain, the peanut butter and egg work as lean meats which both supply protein, the banana on top is our fruit, we have vegetables mixed in with our eggs and finally the milk in your coffee or tea as a dairy product. You can do this with all your meals swapping out whatever healthy foods you enjoy. You can also refer to https://www.choosemyplate.gov/ to see more samples of different kinds of foods that qualify in the five food groups. Naturally adding all these food groups we have simply created a colorful plate: red, green, brown, yellow, white! It is great to get each food group in each meal but what is important is to make sure you are getting all the food groups throughout the day, creating a well-balanced, delicious, and healthy diet. Eating healthy doesn’t need to mean eating boring bland food. It can mean quite the opposite and give you the chance to explore new foods and recipes.