Getting the right balance of foods in a meal can be tricky. A balanced meal relies on the correct proportions of food. A meal (dinner) usually includes protein, carbohydrates and vegetables.
A well-balanced meal is made up of:
Eating a diet rich in vegetables can provide a number of benefits to the body and overall health. Vegetables provide vitamins and minerals that are essential for proper bodily function including circulation, healthy gums, bowel function and development of red blood cells. Vegetable consumption can also reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. Choose a wide range of types and colours including:
- Green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, spinach, kale, rocket and artichokes for good folate intakes
- Tubers such as potato, sweet potato, carrots, and parsnips for vitamin A and good quality carbs
- Beans and peas of all kinds such as green beans and peas, kidney beans, broad beans, chickpeas and baked beans for soluble fibre and protein
- Salad vegetables such as lettuce, tomato, capsicum, cucumber and avocado for a good source of potassium and vitamin C.
Carbohydrates provide us with energy and is the body's preferred fuel. In fact, the brain will not work on any other fuel, so regular carbohydrate intake is essential for good brain function, including concentration and attention (good for study and exams!).
Choose mostly good carbohydrates such as minimally processed cereals, wholegrains, low GI foods and whole fruits and vegetables.
In addition to carbohydrates for fuel, these foods provide insoluble fibre for good bowel health, B group vitamins for energy metabolism and help regulate blood sugar for sustained energy (good for maintaining energy levels for long days at Uni).
Protein is essential for building and repairing muscles, making neurotransmitters for brain functioning and haemoglobin for transporting oxygen (to the brain and muscles).
Choose healthy protein sources such as lean red meats, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, legumes and tofu. A simple guide to suggested amounts include a palm-sized serving for meats, fish and chicken, 2 eggs, 1 cup of beans or 2 slices of cheese.
For more detailed information see Eat for Health.