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This is what healthy eating looks like.

Kate Freeman

Eating healthily should be easy, but it’s become ridiculously complicated. What if we told you that healthy eating is much easier than you think…

We live in the age of information, but due to the fact that the information we access each day can be written by anyone with an opinion, we have all this information but no actual knowledge (let alone put it into practice).

It doesn’t have to be that hard.

What if I told you that healthy eating is much easier than you think? What if I told you that healthy eating is a wide and generous path, with lots of room for different food choices and that you could enjoy your food, without feeling stressed or worried? You can believe me. I’ve spent my entire adult life studying this stuff.

This is what healthy eating looks like

Take a look at the picture below. Here’s what a healthy day’s worth of food could look like. For breakfast, Baked beans with eggs & haloumi; Lunch, Tuna pasta salad; Dinner, Chicken & vegetable stir fry; and fruit snacks: kiwi & yoghurt layers and watermelon salsa.

A day's worth of food.

A day’s worth of food.

Some key principles for your menu

Principle No. 1: It contains more than five serves of vegetables.

Nutrient rich, low energy, high fibre, beautiful vegetables.  You can’t eat well without them. The very fact that vegetables are one of the factors that makes a dietary pattern healthy is why I developed this primary belief about good nutrition: “Healthy eating is more about what you include in your diet, not what you don’t include.” Vegetables need to be eaten every single day.

Principle No. 2: It contains two serves of fruit.

A little higher in energy than vegetables, just as rich in nutrition and fibre. I think fruit is great to snack on or add interest and flavour to a meal.

Principle No. 3: Lots of food variety.

You’ll see that I don’t discriminate. This day includes food from all the groups. This day contains seafood, eggs, chicken, wheat, rice, legumes, dairy, fruit, nuts and vegetables.

Lot’s of people are cutting out a few of these food groups, for no good reason. Like dairy and grains — there is nothing wrong with eating dairy, if you can tolerate it. Don’t build your whole diet out of dairy, but it’s fine to include and is a great source of a range of nutrients.

This day includes grains. It even includes pasta! But as you can see, the whole day isn’t full of grains, it just contains a small amount. Grain foods, especially ones that include the bran, are a great way to meet your fibre requirements and get long lasting energy throughout the day as well as being a good source of vitamins and minerals.

Principle No. 4: This day is calorie controlled yet satisfying.

If you’re a sedentary woman and ate this food every day, you would lose weight. But you wouldn’t feel restricted. You’d feel quite full and satisfied.

Principle No. 5: It contains primarily whole foods.

It doesn’t contain 100% whole foods. Why? Because it’s just not necessary. If you try and eat 100% unprocessed foods, you’ll never be able to socialise or engage in popular culture ever again. And social interaction and culture is part of what makes us who we are! Don’t sweat the small stuff. If you get the basics right, a small portion of pasta with your tuna salad is grand or some oyster sauce on your stir fried vegetables is delicious and a few cubes of haloumi scattered throughout your baked beans and eggs is just divine. Build your diet out of whole foods and use other foods to flavour and bring enjoyment to your meals.

Principle No. 6: It’s yummy.

Flavours like herbs, spices, mustard, lemon juice, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, mint and others are what makes this healthy day of food a healthy, delicious day of food. Healthy eating only benefits you if you do it every day. Doing it for six weeks and then not for another six weeks doesn’t actually do you any good. If your new healthy eating plan is boring, bland and restrictive, how do you plan on doing it long term?

In closing: This day is one day of a possible thousands of healthy days.

Don’t get caught in the details. Just because a food isn’t listed, it doesn’t mean it’s good or bad. This is just an example of what one day could look like for someone.

Don’t put healthy eating in a box. What does healthy eating look like for you? Think about what you need your diet to do for you and then set your diet up, using the principles above, around those goals.

Do you want to lose weight long term?

Do you want to get your blood sugar levels under control?

Do you want to run a marathon?

Do you just want to have better energy levels and feel healthy?

All these scenarios require the principles above yet a day’s worth of food would look different from each other. You’ve got to find what works for you. And if you need help, get it from a qualified professional.

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Kate Freeman

Kate Freeman is a Registered Nutritionist and the founder and managing director of The Healthy Eating Hub. Kate’s healthy eating philosophy is all about whole, fresh foods, being realistic about life and creating long term healthy eating habits. She doesn’t believe in detoxes, fad diets or quick fixes. Once you’ve finished working with Kate, you’ll be empowered to feed yourself well for the rest of you life! More about the Author