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  • Writer's pictureSarah and Martin Moesgaard

A Handy Guide to Eating Well for Good Nutrition and a Healthy Diet

Our Handy Guide to Eating Well, will help you cut through the clutter and get back to the simple, sustainable, foundational ideas of good nutrition and a healthy diet.




You already know that a healthy diet will help you 


  • maintain a comfortable weight,

  • avoid diseases like diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer, and 

  • provide you with energy and vitality.


We all need good, clean fuel to train effectively, move easily, and do the things we love to do. But the over-abundance of processed foods, combined with so many trends, fad diets, 30 Day Challenges, and headlines out there, distract us and make it difficult to remember that good nutrition can be simple and sustainable!


We wrote our Handy Guide to Eating Well, to help you cut through the clutter and get back to the simple, sustainable, foundational ideas of good nutrition.



handy guide to portion control and serving recommendations


Remember, if you are thinking about making big dietary changes, we recommend consulting a nutritionist because a healthy diet, just like an effective workout, is unique to you.  A nutritionist is the best person to help you define what makes up a “healthy diet” according to your goals, medical history, age, gender, current health, activity level, etc.


In, In Defense of Food, author Michael Pollan wrote, 


“Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.” 

We like the sentiment, but maybe that is putting it just a bit too simply?!  Consider these guidelines from the World Health Organization’s Healthy Diet Fact Sheet:



practical advice on maintaining a healthy diet


Fruit and vegetables


Eating at least 400 g, or five portions, of fruit and vegetables per day reduces the risk of Non-communicable Diseases (2) and helps to ensure an adequate daily intake of dietary fibre.


Fruit and vegetable intake can be improved by:


  • always including vegetables in meals;

  • eating fresh fruit and raw vegetables as snacks;

  • eating fresh fruit and vegetables that are in season; and

  • eating a variety of fruit and vegetables.


Fats


Reducing the amount of total fat intake to less than 30% of total energy intake helps to prevent unhealthy weight gain in the adult population (1, 2, 3). Also, the risk of developing NCDs is lowered by:


  • reducing saturated fats to less than 10% of total energy intake;

  • reducing trans-fats to less than 1% of total energy intake; and

  • replacing both saturated fats and trans-fats with unsaturated fats (2, 3) – in particular, with polyunsaturated fats. [ie., fats and oils that are liquid at room temperature, like 

    • avocados and avocado oil

    • olives and olive oil

    • peanut butter and peanut oil

    • vegetable oils, such as sunflower, corn, or canola

    • fatty fish, such as salmon and mackerel

    • nuts and seeds, such as almonds, peanuts, cashews, and sesame seeds]


Fat intake, especially saturated fat and industrially-produced trans-fat intake, can be reduced by:


  • steaming or boiling instead of frying when cooking;

  • replacing butter, lard and ghee with oils rich in polyunsaturated fats, such as soybean, canola (rapeseed), corn, safflower and sunflower oils;

  • eating reduced-fat dairy foods and lean meats, or trimming visible fat from meat; and

  • limiting the consumption of baked and fried foods, and pre-packaged snacks and foods (e.g. doughnuts, cakes, pies, cookies, biscuits and wafers) that contain industrially-produced trans-fats.


Salt, sodium and potassium


Most people consume too much sodium through salt (corresponding to consuming an average of 9–12 g of salt per day) and not enough potassium (less than 3.5 g). High sodium intake and insufficient potassium intake contribute to high blood pressure, which in turn increases the risk of heart disease and stroke (8, 11).


Reducing salt intake to the recommended level of less than 5 g per day could prevent 1.7 million deaths each year (12).


People are often unaware of the amount of salt they consume. In many countries, most salt  comes from processed foods (e.g. ready meals; processed meats such as bacon, ham and salami; cheese; and salty snacks) or from foods consumed frequently in large amounts (e.g. bread). Salt is also added to foods during cooking (e.g. bouillon, stock cubes, soy sauce and fish sauce) or at the point of consumption (e.g. table salt).


Salt intake can be reduced by:


  • limiting the amount of salt and high-sodium condiments (e.g. soy sauce, fish sauce and bouillon) when cooking and preparing foods;

  • not having salt or high-sodium sauces on the table;

  • limiting the consumption of salty snacks; and

  • choosing products with lower sodium content.


Some food manufacturers are reformulating recipes to reduce the sodium content of their products, and people should be encouraged to check nutrition labels to see how much sodium is in a product before purchasing or consuming it.


Potassium can mitigate the negative effects of elevated sodium consumption on blood pressure. Intake of potassium can be increased by consuming fresh fruit and vegetables.


Sugars


In both adults and children, the intake of free sugars should be reduced to less than 10% of total energy intake (2, 7).  A reduction to less than 5% of total energy intake would provide additional health benefits (7).


Consuming free sugars increases the risk of dental caries (tooth decay). Excess calories from foods and drinks high in free sugars also contribute to unhealthy weight gain, which can lead to overweight and obesity. Recent evidence also shows that free sugars influence blood pressure and serum lipids, and suggests that a reduction in free sugars intake reduces risk factors for cardiovascular diseases (13).


Sugars intake can be reduced by:


  • limiting the consumption of foods and drinks containing high amounts of sugars, such as sugary snacks, candies and sugar-sweetened beverages (i.e. all types of beverages containing free sugars – these include carbonated or non‐carbonated soft drinks, fruit or vegetable juices and drinks, liquid and powder concentrates, flavoured water, energy and sports drinks, ready‐to‐drink tea, ready‐to‐drink coffee and flavoured milk drinks); and

  • eating fresh fruit and raw vegetables as snacks instead of sugary snacks.



Find this complete fact sheet and more at https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/healthy-diet




In summary, 

7 Tips for Better Basic Nutrition


  1. Include five portions of fruit and vegetables daily.

  2. Steam, boil, or airfry when cooking.

  3. Choose a better fat and use less of it.

  4. Choose plant-based proteins and lean, unprocessed meats.

  5. Replace pre-packaged snacks, like doughnuts, cakes, pies, cookies, biscuits and wafers, with fruits and vegetables.

  6. Take the table salt off of the table.

  7. Drink water, milk, plant milk, herbal tea, and water.  Then drink more water. 


Track your Habits for Eating Well


Our eighth tip would be to use a Habit Tracker to keep yourself accountable for making these small changes. If you don't currently have a Habit Tracker, click on the orange button below to download ours. You can add things like, "5 fruits and veggies today," "two servings of plant protein today," or "zero soft drinks today," to your tracker and create sustainable habits out of these simple changes. Meal planners are also included in the Healthful Habits Bundle.




Our Handy Guide to Eating Well illustrates how to quickly and simply measure your servings and includes reminders about how many of each type of food you will need each day. We recommend downloading and printing it to keep in the cupboard for quick reference when preparing meals.


Click on the button below for the printable version of our Handy Guide to Eating Well.



Ready to add fitness into your healthful living routine? Contact us for a complimentary consultation or to sign up for personal training or small group fitness classes.



Train Smart. Move Well. Play Hard, friends.



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