Dr Roslyn Alfred-Demas

The pandemic has certainly taught us that we always need to protect and safeguard our own health and immune system defences. As food prices increase, this can certainly be daunting. We are a people that love flavour and a nation that is blessed with a plethora of palatable delicacies. How then can we be guided when we shop for food and when we sit to have our meals?

International bodies advocate

The World Health Organization advocates for a balanced diet consisting of daily fruits and vegetables and grains. This is of paramount importance and while staying active is key; we certainly cannot outrun our cutlery. Whatever we consume is linked to inflammatory processes within our bodies and Chronic non communicable diseases.

The Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health has issued guides on the Healthy Eating Plate for use by all ages and for creating healthy and balanced meals, even on the go in a way that can be affordable and practical.

Whether you choose to plant or shop, this approach is achievable. Let’s make that positive change towards a more fulfilling and longer life with less medical expenses in the future!

Some helpful hacks in achieving your Healthy Plate:

– Imagine your plate as a circle or even a square. Half of this circle or square should be fruits and vegetables and salads. Filling vegetables include melongene, ochro, carille, broccoli, cauliflower, and green leaves.

– Potatoes are not vegetables, similarly Irish potatoes, white pasta, white bread, rice, cornmeal, white flour roti are quite starchy.

– Quarter of one’s plate or one’s fist size or one pot spoon should be whole grains and what we call complex carbohydrates, such as ground provision, quinoa, oats, hemp seeds, and food made from whole wheat. Seeds like chia, flax, sunflower and pumpkin also add filling additions to one’s plates.

– If for example one chooses to have macaroni pie and potato salad they both must fit on a quarter of the plate, or just choose either one or the other.

– On most days of the week it’s better though to consume the more complex carbohydrates which have a lower glycaemic index and lesser effect on our blood glucose.

– The last quarter is our protein which provides the most satisfaction to our hunger. This food group includes animal protein like meat and eggs and plant protein like healthy almond nuts and peanut butter and legumes. Bodi tends to be less starchy than lentils and pigeon peas.

– Peanuts and cashew nuts can contribute to weight gain.

– Limit red meat as it can be carcinogenic.

– Low fat doesn’t necessarily mean healthy. Neither does going vegan equate to healthier.

– Good oils include olive and canola oil, as well as avocado fruit.

– Careful with sweet condiments like ketchup – yes ketchup it’s both sweet and salty.

– Cinnamon and essences serve as healthy and natural sweeteners.

– Avoid eating late at night. Eat when hungry and eat to satisfy (not for eating’s sake).

– When out, try reverse plating where one plates out the salad, veggies, fruits and protein first, then leaves the carbohydrates for last.

– Avoid sugary drinks and keep hydrated.

– After adopting the above, I can tell you that I feel on top of the world and have energy for days and mental clarity to make it through a busy work schedule, online school and juggling life. I implore all to adopt and adapt as we move forward in 2022.