Much of my work involves telling people to follow the dietary guidlines and the healthy eating pyramid, by eating a sensible, balanced diet. Unfortunately, many people may find this kind of recommendation very mundane and boring, and instead search for some kind of miracle, break through, 'secret' diet that will help them lose weight fast, live longer or fight disease. Some people may also want specific dietary formulations to follow, finding recommendations made by healthy eating pyramids to be to vague and non-specific. Consequently, I have formulated an example of a diet which essentially follows these guidelines, but makes specific examples to help making healthy food choices a bit easier and more clear.
Admittedly, the dietary guidelines and healthy eating pyramid are a bit vague. Although they may make generalized recommendations, some specific foods may be more healthy than others within the same food group. Consequently, I have made recommendations which although are based on the healthy eating pyramid, are perhaps a bit more strict or conservative. Because this website is nutra-smart.net, the diet I have formulated below is called the Nutra-Smart Diet.
Because cardiovascular disease and cancer are the leading causes of death in Australia and other countries, avoiding them is perhaps the most important things that should govern the food choices we make, especially given that these diseases are considered dietary-related. Consequently, whilst the Nutra-Smart Diet is formulated to provide adequate levels of macro and micro nutrients to maintain a healthy weight and energy levels, it includes specific foods which studies suggest may be most beneficial in the fight against these diseases.
Typically, a fad diet is one that promises quick results, and is usually focused on rapid weight loss. They generally differ significantly from healthy eating recommendations made by government health authorities, and are based on little or no science. Furthermore, whilst some fad-diets may produce short term weight loss, they are not good to follow long-term. The Nutra-Smart Diet, whilst making specific recommendations about food choices, does not fall under these categories, and is essentially an example of how to follow a healthy balanced diet; albeit making recommendations perhaps more conservative.
The Nutra-Smart diet is 1 diet. It is important than no 1 diet is suitable for all people. Some people may have specific dietary needs, allergies, intolerance etc, which may necessitate following specific guidelines prescribed by a doctor or dietitian. The Nutra-Smart diet would be an ideal diet to follow for an otherwise healthy adult, however specific dietary needs may differ from person to person, depending on age, sex, medical conditions etc. If you have specific dietary needs, then consult your family doctor, specialist or dietitian for advice.
Though the diet set out below recommends specific examples, it is essentially just a guide or template for which you should build your diet. Try to ensure a wide variety of foods, and do not eat the exact same foods every day. Ensuring a variety will help maximize your chances of obtaining the greatest range of beneficial nutrients and foodstuffs, but reduce boredom and monotony. Try to include servings from most food groups in each meal, placing the most emphasis on wholegrains, fruits and vegetables. Remember that this diet is purely an example of a healthy diet - ultimately you should learn to be able to choose foods that you like which still contribute to a healthy overall diet. Expecting to be able to follow strict dietary prescription long term is unrealistic.
The size of each meal should depend upon your individual needs. For example; a large, muscular, physically active man may require greater serving sizes than a small, thin, relatively inactive women. Adjust your meal sizes according to your own needs - especially if you are trying to lose weight.
You should be consuming small servings of water regularly throughout the day, either with or between meals. Intakes should be adjusted according to body mass, physical activity and humidity. As a general recommendation, it might be a good idea to have a small glass of water in between each of the meals set out below.
Most days of the week: Small bowl of muesli (Approx 60% oats, 20% wheat bran and 20% dried fruit) with low fat soy milk. It would be good to sprinkle a tablespoon of LSA mix (crushed Linseed, Sunflower Seed and Almonds) on top as well. You may like to sprinkle a teaspoon of oat bran or psyllium husk on top as well. Have with a cup of unsweeted tea, preferably green tea.
Some days you may wish to replace this breakfast with beans on wholemeal or rye toast, or perhaps a bowl of cereal made from whole wheat or wheat bran.
Morning tea or 'brunch, ' should be consumed approximately 2-3 hours following breakfast. Morning tea should include a serving of low fat yoghurt, (chose a different flavour / variety every week) a piece of fruit (chose a different fruit every day, however those listed here are perhaps the healthiest choices) and a cup of unsweetened tea; preferably green tea. Alternatively,instead of teh yoghurt and fruit, you could combine the two plus skim or soy milk to make a fruit smoothy.
Lunch should be consumed approx 2 hours after morning tea. Lunch should include a medium sized sandwich or roll, preferably made from wholemeal bread or rye bread. The sandwich should contain approximately 1-2 standard servings of fresh vegetables (such as a spinach leaf, sliced beetroot, grated carrot, sliced onion etc) and a small serving of fruit (such as sliced tomato, pineapple pieces etc). The sandwich / roll should also contain a serving of a low fat animal food, such as canned fish, sliced turkey meat, scrambled eggs or preferably low fat cheese.
There are many different varieties of sandwiches / rolls you can make, using many different combinations of these fillings. Try to experiment with as many different combinations as possible to ensure a wide variety.
You may also wish to have a small glass or fruit or mixed vegetable juice with your lunch. Likewise, try to select a different juice from week to week. Some particularly healthy choices include mixed vegetable juice, pomegranate juice, dark grape juice, grapefruit juice, orange juice with pulp, as well as other mixed fruit juices. If however you had the fruit smoothy for morning tea, you may wish to have a cup of tea with lunch instead. Alternate on different days.
Afternoon Tea should be consumed approx 2-3 hours after lunch. Afternoon tea should include a handful of nuts (choose a variety, however almonds and walnuts are perhaps the healthiest choice) as well as one of the following:
A small garden salad (made of fresh, mixed typical garden veggies such as tomato, onion, lettuce etc). You can add a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil for flavour, and perhaps add small pieces of a low fat animal food such as one listed as a sandwich filling above. (If you use an animal food in your salad, try to make it a different one that you used in your sandwich)
You can either buy ready made garden salads and fruit salads, or you can make your own to your own liking. Either way, try to have a variety of different ingredients from day to day.
Dinner should be a stir fry, containing the following ingredients: A small serving of lean animal meat, (preferably fish most nights of the week) chopped mixed vegetables (include a variety which differs from night to night. Try to include at least 1 portion of allium vegetables, 1 portion of carotenoid veggies and 1 portion of cruciferous veggies in each stir fry). Include a small serving of wholemeal pasta or brown rice (differ from night to night) and small serving of legumes, preferably a soy food like tofu. Cook lightly in a fry pan using extra-virgin olive oil, and sprinkle a spice such as turmeric on it for extra flavouring. You can add some low fat sauce for flavouring as well, though try different varieties of sauces, and try to use tomato paste at least some nights.
It might be a good idea to include a glass of red wine with your dinner on some nights of the week. Obviously, people who have specific medical conditions requiring them to avoid alcohol should not include wine with their meal. For otherwise healthy adults, a glass of wine 4 times a week in men, and 3 times a week in women is fine.
Supper is not always necessary. Some people do not feel that they need to eat again after dinner, so this would be only for people who still get hungry after dinner before going to bed. It is important that the last meal of the night be consumed at least 1-2 hours before going to bed.
If you chose the fruit salad for afternoon tea, then for supper, have a small serving of vegetable soup. You can buy canned soup, or make your own depending on your preferences. If however you chose the garden salad for afternoon tea, chose the small fruit salad for supper. Alternate on different days.
Track Your Progress
It is a good idea to have a regular check up with your doctor at least once a year, to have a blood test (to look at your blood sugar and lipids as well as liver enzymes, immune function and hemaglobin) and check your blood pressure, body mass index and other markers used to assess your general health. Adopting a healthy diet is a good way to help obtain and maintain healthy levels of these markers.
I would be interested in receiving feedback from readers who have tried this diet. I would be particularly interested in feedback concerning convenience issues, taste preferences as well as health outcomes such as body weight and bio markers (such as blood sugar, cholesterol etc).