Everyone knows that the appeal of comfort food can be strong, especially with the onset of the winter season. This often causes us to avoid the healthy foods (e.g. salads) and veg of summer in our reusable shopping bag for oily kebabs, fries and hot chips.
You may be taking to lunch in your ECOF reusable sandwich wrap or tossing into your reusable bag each week. However, not each of us will have an educational background in nutrition, so for a more definitive guide than your mom’s “eat your vegetables”, USDA has provided us with the new updated Healthy Eating Pyramid to use as a guide when filling your reusable shopping bag at the grocers or farmers market.
What should we be eating? The lower levels
At the base levels of the pyramid that make up the foundations of a healthy diet, you’ll find the usual suspects such as fruits and vegetables as well as legumes and whole grains.
USDA suggests that these lower levels should represent approximately 70 per cent of our diet.
“Plant foods contain a wide variety of nutrients like vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They are also the main source of carbohydrates and fiber in our diet.”
USDA also recommends that older children, teenagers and adults alike should all be ideally having a minimum five servings of veggies or legumes, and two portions of fruit.
The new pyramid also emphasizes the importance of staying hydrated with water throughout the day — an easy job when you have ECOF’s stainless steel drink bottle close at hand.
Working your way up to the top
After you’ve powered through the healthy abundance at the bottom of the pyramid, you come to the not so frequent dairy layer, which contains milk, yogurt and cheese-related products, as well as lean meats and fish, eggs and poultry.
“Foods in the milk, yogurt, cheese and alternatives group primarily provide us with calcium and protein, plus other vitamins and minerals,” explains USDA.
From the bottom to the top
Like the middle layer, the top of the pyramid contains healthy fats that we should limit to small amounts, aiming to avoiding trans- and saturated fats as much as possible.
The unrefined, ‘healthy’ polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats we get from various plants and oils can help to support brain functioning. After all, the brain is made up of nearly 60 per cent fat , as the USA Health reminds us.
Watch out for added sugar and salt
Two of the red flags when it comes to eating a balanced diet are, of course, sugar and salt.
This can be addressed by both avoiding the practice of adding salt and sugar to our food, as well as steering clear from processed or packaged foods with these additives.
USDA recommends substituting some salts used in cooking with healthier spices instead for more variety.
While we can find natural sugars and sodium in some foods, these are usually relatively small amounts which aren’t detrimental to our health.
Ingredients in this mid-section are a rich source of protein, as well as iron and zinc, so it’s a good idea to keep things diverse with a mix of meat and vegetarian choices.
Healthy Eating to healthy person!