Sunday July 21 2024


5 December 2012 14:34 (UTC+04:00)

By Scott Fenwick

B.S. /Hons

[email protected]

Do we eat a balanced nutritional diet with consistency? Good nutrition is not just eating fruits and vegetables, the quantity and the time of consumption are essential to successfully improving your health. This week's article will focus on the important factors of food and explaining good foods and bad foods in terms of leading a balanced diet.

Today's society of nutrition, diets, from my extensive experience is based on quick fix solutions rather than balanced, healthy lifestyle choices. We are all influenced highly by the television commercials or what the celebrities are doing to get in their desired body shape.

The key to a healthy balanced diet is not to stop eating, but to balance what you eat and to consume a variety of foods from each food group in the right proportions.


The food groups can be sectioned from bottom to top, which is a good indication of how much of that particular food group we should be eating.

Let's start from the bottom of the pyramid with breads, cereals, rice and pasta. The foundation of the food pyramid has the largest area to include in your daily, weekly even monthly plan to having a balanced diet. This food group should make up about a third of your diet and contains the starchy carbohydrates that are the body's main source of energy.

Choose unrefined (complex) carbohydrates over those that have been refined (simple carbohydrates), as they will contain the whole of the grain. Wholegrain foods are rich in fibre and other nutrients that have many health benefits. People who consume wholegrain seem to have a reduced risk of certain cancers, diabetes and coronary heart disease.

The second level of the food pyramid focuses on fruits and vegetables. These should make up about a third of your daily diet and can be eaten as part of every meal, as well as could be the first choice for a snack.

You should eat at least five portions of fruits and vegetables each day. Consume 5 different portions; a portion would equal 1 banana or 1 apple. This can also be achieved successfully using a blender or juice maker which produces natural flavorsome healthy drinks. Research suggests consuming 5 portions can help to protect against cancer, obesity and various chronic diseases such as heart disease. This is because of the unique package of nutrients and plant compounds they contain.

The third level is divided into dairy and poultry food groups. Milk, cheese, yoghurt should be eaten in moderation because of their high saturated fat content, but they are an important source of calcium, which is essential for healthy bones and teeth. Choose low-fat or reduced-fat versions. Meat, fish and eggs include both animal and plant sources of protein, which is a major functional and structural component of all cells. Protein provides the body with between 10% and 15 % of its dietary energy, and is needed for growth and repair.

The highest point of the pyramid, making up the smallest section on Scott's Food Pyramid plate, includes foods that should only be eaten sparingly.

Although fats, oils and sweets are an important energy source, they contain very few nutrients. Foods from this group are high in unhealthy components such as saturated fat, fatty acids, and sugar and salt - all of which are associated with an increased risk of developing certain diseases. They should only be eaten as occasional treats, or to increase the palatability of other important foods such as olive oil on salads, a scraping of delicious spread on bread, or a sprinkling of sugar on your favorite dessert.

For a better understanding of everyday foods, I have added examples of 10 common foods in the table below.



SWEET POTATO - A nutritional All-Star and one of the best vegetables you can eat. They are loaded with carotenoids, vitamin C, potassium, and fibre.

ICE-CREAM - An average half cup serving of ice cream squeezes half-a-day's saturated fat and a third-of-a-day's cholesterol into your artery walls and makes a nearly 300-calorie down-payment on your next set of fat cells.

MANGO - Just one cup of mango supplies 100% of a day's vitamin C, one-third of a day's vitamin A, a decent dose of blood-pressure-lowering potassium, and 3 grams of fiber.

KEBAB - Think of its 970 calories, and 18 grams of saturated fat. It is enjoyed locally but far away from being a healthy food choice.

BROCCOLI - has lots of vitamin C, carotenoids, vitamin K and folic acid.

CHEESECAKE - A whopping 1,760 calories and 2½ days' worth of saturated fat (50 grams), mostly from chocolate, sugar, and cream, white flour, and butter.

SALMON - The omega-3 fats in fatty fish like salmon can help reduce the risk of heart attacks.

CINAMMON ROLL - has 310 calories and 2 grams of saturated fat plus 2½ grams of trans fat (more than a day's worth) and 5 teaspoons of sugar.

WATERMELON - is a heavyweight in the nutrient department. A standard serving (about 2 cups) has one-third of a day's vitamins A and C, a nice shot of potassium, and a healthy dose of lycopene for only 80 fat-free, salt-free calories.

CHOCOLATE MOCHA - has 580 calories and 15 grams of saturated fat that is a hefty beverage!

My last words this week are "eating is enjoyable" which is often forgotten amid all the media hype surrounding various food items. Just remember to keep a check on portion size, keep disciplined on consistency and use Scott's Food Pyramid as inspiration.

Food habits change slowly, but try new foods. A great way to speed up the process is to plan ahead with meals. Have a positive attitude about food after all; it is one of life's pleasures. Make it happen!

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