How can I make sure my plate is balanced?
1. Make sure you’re including a source of protein
Choose a variety of different proteins to have throughout the week so you’re providing your body with different nutrients at each meal – this can also help to keep you interested and on track.
This can include poultry, lentils, eggs, white fish, oily fish like salmon or mackerel, tofu, lean beef mince or vegetarian mince, and beans like chickpeas, kidney beans or butter beans. If you have a piece of meat with visible fat or skin, remove this before cooking.
There’s lots of controversy around red and processed meat, and whilst they can be good sources of protein, vitamins and minerals, we should limit the amount we consume to an average of 70g per day and make sure we’re including other sources of protein throughout the week.
As a population, we should look to consume more plant-based foods to reduce our impact on the planet. This could be as simple as having a meat-free meal once or twice per week, and is also a great opportunity to explore new recipes and add variety to your diet (2).
2. Always include a carbohydrate, preferably wholegrain
There’s a misconception that carbohydrates make us gain weight. This theory isn’t supported by science, and evidence supports eating low-fat, starchy foods within a calorie-controlled diet can help with weight loss, particularly when choosing wholegrain or high fibre versions (3).
Again, look to include a variety of different foods from this group in your diet. You can include potatoes (preferably with their skins on), wholegrain or seeded bread, brown or wild rice, wholewheat pasta, quinoa and other grains like buckwheat or pearl barley.
Think about how you’re preparing these foods, and aim to use as little fat as possible. We tend to combine these foods with high-fat ingredients, which is likely why we associate these foods with weight gain – e.g. potatoes roasted in oil, spreading butter on toast, or having pasta with a creamy sauce. Instead, try experimenting with spray oils, herbs, spices and tomato or other vegetable-based sauces.
3. Fill up on vegetables
If you’re feeling hungry or want your plate to look more full, then look to include more vegetables. Vegetables provide a range of nutrients, and tend to have a higher water content so are often lower in calories.
Aim for a variety of different types and colours – each different vegetable will provide a different array of vitamins and minerals. To keep costs down, look out for seasonal offers in the supermarkets and remember you can include frozen and canned vegetables too.
You can create some delicious and interesting dishes all within 400-600 calories, and the more creative you are the greater chance for long-term success.
Don’t forget, you can also use the IsaLifeTM app to calculate what’s in your meal. Keep an eye out for our recipes on our social media for some healthy, balanced inspiration!