Just about every government in the world has a published set of healthy eating guidelines. In the UK one of the most well-known form is the ‘Eatwell Plate’. This is roughly based on a third each for fruit and veg and starchy foods such as bread and pasta with the remaining third made up of meat and fish, dairy and high fat and sugar food and drinks.
While this is basic good advice there are some flaws. For example, although starchy foods are important, they should be limited to something more like a quarter of your plate and vegetables increased to a half. Vegetables are an important source of fibre and antioxidants while starchy foods, particularly white bread and white rice can cause imbalances in your blood sugar.
While it is important to keep fat and sugar to a minimum, there is no mention of the type of fats and the fact that healthy fats such as those found in oily fish, nuts and seeds, and oils such as olive and coconut oil are an important part of a healthy diet.
I have talked about Brazil before in this blog and it is a country that I know quite well and love for many reasons, one of them being the food. Brazil is not always perfect when it comes to a healthy diet and in fact they have a love affair with cakes and all things sweet that borders on the obsessive!
However, the Brazilian government released their healthy eating guidelines last week and I love the approach they have taken. The focus is very much on whole foods and avoiding processed foods as much as possible.
My four favourite bits of advice are:
‘Develop, exercise and share culinary skills’. Encouraging people to cook and share this amongst family and friends is a great way to get people interested in food and what they are eating.
‘Plan your time to make food and eating important in your life’. If you take the time to eat your meals you will think and care more about what you are putting in to your body.
‘Avoid consumption of ultra-processed products’. The less processed food the better, it’s all about fresh and as unprocessed as possible.
‘Be wary of food advertising and marketing’. Food marketing can be beneficial and educational but a lot of it is marketing junk and processed food, making it appealing, particularly to a younger market and encouraging people to eat rubbish.
This is some great advice and a good basis to help people think about food and prioritise the link between food and health. As if I needed another reason to love this amazing country!
Contact Kirsty Williams Nutrition if you would like some advice on nutrition and healthy eating.