Preparing meals from fresh ingredients will help you get necessary nutrients
"5 a day is just a guide," says Charlotte Watts, Nutritional Therapist & Yoga Teacher , co-author os The De-Stress Diet, "you can have more and that should consist of more veg than fruit, to get good mineral levels and less sugars.
What does healthy or balanced eating really mean?
Watts recommends sticking to 2-3 portions fruit a day. And even then it should be seasonal stuff: "berries are in season in the winter and help promote good circulation." She says.
Eating plenty of different coloured veg (and fruit) will ensure you have a good spread of different types of antioxidants, nutrients that support good immunity, heart health and skin health.
However when it comes to getting a healthy, balanced diet there's more to it than just bucket loads of seasonal veg.
"The most important consideration in my book is being aware of how sugar cravings can increase in the winter" warns Watts.
She insists a every meal must consist of healthy protein, healthy fats and plenty of veg to "keep up the regulated energy, mood and sleep patterns that allow us to cope with stress and keep blood sugar balanced so we don’t just continually turn to sugar and comfort foods when we have less warm and light available."
Dr Arasu breaks it down even further. "In principle", he states "a healthy balanced diet is roughly:
"Following the above and eating regularly (3-6 times a day) and not eating late at night, controlling calories, limiting salt and alcohol and preparing meals from fresh ingredients will help you get necessary nutrients without overeating." States Dr Arasu.
- 70% carbohydrate - of which half is wholegrains (brown rice, wholegrain pasta) and half fresh fruits and vegetables
- 20% protein - ideally low fat like lean meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, beans, pulses, soy foods, nuts and seeds
- 10% dairy - milk or yogourt. Consider low fat if you are trying to lose weight. [And probiotics to support your gut]
- A maximum of 10% treats - cakes, cookies chocolate, cheese, cooking oils
Watts recommends getting some healthy fats in with your diet too. Protein rich eggs, oily fish, nuts and seeds are a great source of "good fats" which help you to stay healthy.