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Why and how to eat from the five food groups.

SOPHIE FENG 

Remember this guy?

He was the face of the “Go for 2 & 5” campaign that encouraged Australians to eat 2 serves of fruit and 5 serves of vegetables every day.

In addition to this however, it is recommended that Australian adults eat:

  •      4-6 serves of wholegrain/cereal foods (e.g. bread, pasta, oats, rice)
  •      1-3 serves of meats, fish & alternatives (e.g. eggs, tofu)
  •      2-3 serves of dairy/dairy alternatives (e.g. plant based milks)

Fluids are also important to help our bodies maintain healthy cells, flush out waste products, aid digestion and carry nutrients around our body.

For adults, about 8-10 cups of fluids is recommended. Water should make up the majority of this and water throughout the day is important to stay hydrated, however if you’re looking for something with a little flavour, consider the alternatives wisely.

Good health drinks can provide a tasty addition in a low kilojoule, low sugar and cases like PERKii Probiotic Water, an extra functional benefit. Most importantly, look to avoid sugary soft drinks and cordials.

So, after reading all these numbers some of you may be thinking “how on earth do I fit all these food groups in?”

Well it’s really not as difficult as you think. But before I give you my top tips and an example meal plan;

Here’s why it’s important to eat a variety from these food groups

  1. Each food group will provide your body with different key nutrients
    • For example, dairy & dairy alternatives are an important source of calcium and protein, but are lower in vitamin C.
    • On the other hand, fruit and veg have an abundance of vitamin C but will provide you with less protein.
  1. They’ll keep you fuller for longer
    • Fruits and veggies are low in kilojoules and high in fibre – i.e. they’re great to fill up on without expanding your waist line
    • Lean meats and dairy foods are a great source of protein. Incorporating these foods into your day can keep you more satisfied so you’re not always reaching for a pick-me-up between meals.
  1. Your health and waist-line will thank you!
Eating your fruits, veggies, lean proteins, dairy and wholegrains is associated with a reduced risk of:
    • Weight gain
    • Stroke
    • Diabetes
    • High blood pressure
    • Some cancers
  1. It’s actually more affordable!
    • Let’s compare two common snack foods: A packet of chips and a single serve yoghurt tub.
    • A 170g packet of potato chips costs ~ $2.14 per 100g, whilst a 170g yoghurt tub costs ~$0.66/100g.
    • Despite popular belief that “healthy foods are expensive”, yoghurt (the more nutritious option) is more than 3x cheaper than the bag of chips.

Here are my top tips on how to incorporate all these foods into your diet

  1. Spread them out throughout the day
    • For example, try having 1-2 serves of veg at lunch and dinner, plus an additional serve for a mid-morning or afternoon snack.
    • This will not only make it easier, but can also help you feel more satisfied throughout the day.
  1. Choose foods that you like and enjoy!
    • Whilst kale and quinoa are super trendy and insta-worthy, if you don’t like them, you don’t have to eat them!
    • Healthy food should be enjoyable and taste good!
    • Choosing and buying what you like and will actually eat is key to getting your nutrients in
    • With that being said, don’t be afraid to try something you’ve never tried before!
  1. Do a bit of meal planning
    • Yes this sounds annoying, but sitting down for a few minutes and planning your meals can ensure you’re eating a variety of food
    • Plus you’ll know exactly what you need from the supermarket!

Example of how to fit these food groups into a day of eating:

NOTE: this is only an example. There are a variety of ways to include all the food groups & serves into your day!

Breakfast:
  • ½  cup cooked porridge + 200g yoghurt + 1 medium banana
= 1 serve grains, 1 serve dairy, 1 serve fruit
Morning Tea:
  • 3 small wholegrain crisp breads (e.g. vita-weat) + 40g cheddar cheese
= 1 serve grains, 1 serve dairy
Lunch:
  • Wholegrain sandwich with chicken, avocado, a tomato, cucumber and ½ cup  baby spinach
= 2 serves grains, 1 serve meat, 2 ½ serves vegetables
Afternoon Tea:
  • Carrot sticks + 2 tbs hummus + 1 cup grapes
= 1 serve vegetables, 1 serve fruit
Dinner:
  • ½  cup cooked rice + stirfry with 65g cooked beef + 1 cup cooked mixed vegetables
= 1 serve grains, 1 serve meat, and 2 serves vegetables
Total:
  • 5 ½ serves vegetables, 2 serves fruit, 5 serves grains, 2 serves dairy, 2 serves meat

For references and more information on serve sizes, see:

https://www.health.gov.au/internet/healthyactive/publishing.nsf/Content/about

https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/food-essentials/five-food-groups

https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/sites/default/files/content/n55_australian_dietary_guidelines.pdf

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/water-a-vital-nutrient 

Written by dietitian Sophie Feng (@sophies_foodfeast)
Sophie is newly graduated dietitian who believes that learning how to cook whole, fresh foods is the key to good health. She encourages everyone to experiment and play around with flavours in the kitchen...because who doesnt love food?
 
Sophie currently contributes to Catherine Saxelby's Foodwatch, works as a Recipe Tester at HelloFresh AU and provides free lance recipe development, testing, nutrition analysis & photography.
 
In addition, she loves dogs,crossfit, drizzles sriracha on everything and could probably live off vegemite & avocado on toast.
Catch her on Instagram at @sophies_foodfeast !

 

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