A dietary pattern is defined as the quantity, variety, or combination of different foods and beverage in a diet and the frequency with which they are habitually consumed. Research evidence supports the utility of healthy dietary patterns that emphasize whole-grain foods, legumes, vegetables, and fruits, and that limits refined starches, red meat, full-fat dairy products, and foods and beverages high in added sugars. Such diets have been associated with decreased risk and improve management of a variety of chronic diseases. A healthy eating pattern should be followed within the confines of an individual’s appropriate calorie level.
Elements of Healthy Eating Pattern:
Choose healthy fats over unhealthy fats.
- Avoid trans fats which are generally in commercially baked products like cookies, cakes and deep-fried restaurant foods.
- Limit intake of saturated fats mostly from red meat, butter and pick fat free or low-fat dairy and dairy products like milk and yoghurt (<7% of total calories)
- Use monounsaturated fats from olives and olive oil, canola, peanut and other nut oils, almonds, cashews, peanuts, avocado, sesame, pumpkin seeds and other seeds.
- Use polyunsaturated fats from vegetable oils such as corn, soybean and safflower oils, walnuts and fish such as salmon, anchovies, tilapia, and herring.
Choose complex (slowly digested) carbohydrates over refined ones
- Limit intake of sources of refined carbohydrates such as white wheat flour, white rice, pastries, sugary drinks. Always go for whole grains (such as brown rice, quinoa, barley), whole fruits and vegetables, beans and nuts. This will go a long way into stabilizing your blood sugar.
- Aim for at least half of protein from plant sources – beans, nuts and seeds, whole grains while choose fish, eggs and poultry for the other half with small amount of red meat and dairy to make up the balance
- Aim for two servings of fatty fish per week.
Emphasize on fruits and vegetable intake
- Consider 5 servings each of low and medium GI fruits and vegetables a daily minimum
- Eat for variety and color- each day try to get at least one serving of a dark green leafy vegetable, yellow or orange fruit or vegetable, a red fruit or vegetable, and a citrus fruit.
Choose low-calorie hydration options
- Water is the best choice for hydration
- Coffee and tea in moderation are safe and healthy beverages
- Use low fat or skim milk
- Avoid sugary drinks such as sodas, fruit drinks, energizers
- Alcohol in moderation (one drink per day for women while men not more than two drinks)
Try and meet all your nutrition needs primarily from food
Individuals should aim to meet their nutrient needs through healthy eating patterns that include nutrient-dense foods (foods high in nutrients but low in calories e.g. vegetables) unless otherwise advised by your doctor or registered nutritionist.
Limit your Sodium intake
This can be achieved by eating more fresh foods and minimizing processed meats especially. Substitute salt in recipes with herbs, spices, and other flavorings to season food. If you do buy processed foods, choose those that are ;labelled low sodium
30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity at least 5 days in a week is a good addition to a healthy eating pattern. It not only improves your cardiovascular health but also increases insulin sensitivity, HDL cholesterol, reduces blood pressure and helps in weight management