As a nutritionist I am often asked if there is one prescribed way of eating which is appropriate for everyone. The short answer is no. Each person is individual, we all have different nutrient requirements, depending on both our genetics and other environmental factors.
However, although there is no single prescribed way of eating, there is perhaps a requirement for general dietary guidance on balancing food groups. I recommend the Wellness Solution plate which focuses on eating for energy production and for vital nutrients and fibre.
The Wellness Solution plate
To optimise energy and health the Wellness Solution plate suggests that root vegetables and wholegrains should constitute 25% of your plate. As a guide protein should be approximately 25% of your plate, and leafy greens/vegetables should be 50%.
Good nutrition is not just about avoiding ill health but should also be for optimising health. To achieve this, here are some recommendations:
- Eat 5 + ( ideally 7) different coloured fruit and vegetables daily
- Avoid sugary drinks and too much alcohol and caffeine
- Protein can include red meat (up to 2 a week), lean meats such as fish, eggs, chicken and vegetable sources
- Include healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, avocados and olive oil
- Eat root vegetables and whole grains instead of refined/processed grains
- Sleep and exercise are important in helping to maintain a healthy weight
Where possible try to include 5 vegetables and up to 2 fruit per day (1 is equivalent in size to a clenched fist). Try 1 fruit with breakfast and 1 fruit as a mid-afternoon snack, then 5 vegetables made up from 3 with dinner, 1 with lunch, and 1 as a snack e.g. carrots/celery/pepper crudités.
If you struggle to eat the 5 vegetables per day you could include 1 - 2 in a smoothie (e.g. spinach, kale, beetroot, celery, carrot) or with children who are fussy eaters try blending the vegetables into a sauce e.g. bolognaise.
If you are looking to maintain weight, consider eating approx. 0.8-1g protein per day per kg of body weight. For example, 56g to 70g protein for someone who is 70kg/11 stone. Here is an approximation of the amount of protein in some foods:
- 35g chicken breast
- 25g tin of tuna
- 6g an egg
If your goal is to increase muscle mass then increase your proportion of protein to greater than 1g protein per kg body weight, but of course this will depend on the amount of exercise you do. Eating any food groups to excess will lead to weight gain. Excess protein consumption is not encouraged as it may lead to excessive pressure on kidney function.
To identify a balance which is correct for you always seek professional advice (Registered Nutritional Therapists can be found on the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine website)
Weight management strategies
Nutritional Therapists will always recommend a balanced diet with everything in moderation. Fad diets are not recommended. There are dietary concepts which have favourable results for some people – historically the Atkins diet (low carbohydrate, high protein) worked for many but also had less favourable health implications.
Currently the Ketogenic diet (high fat, adequate protein, low/no carbohydrates) has much media coverage and there is some scientific literature to support it and other methods such as intermittent fasting benefiting some people. The Nutritional Therapists view is to individualise lifestyle medicine including nutrition.
Written by: The Natural Alternative Health & Wellbeing Ltd
The Natural Alternative Health & Wellbeing Ltd was founded in 2006 by Anjanette Fraser whose previous career was in Corporate Finance at PricewaterhouseCoopers, London. With a previous career in finance and studying a MSc in Nutritional Medicine, Anjanette translates the latest scientific research into an easier to understand format to improve employee health, and making healthcare more accessible by bringing Nutrition health professionals into the workplace.