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Natalie asked...

Planning meals for my family.

Tags: Diet , Nutrition

I would like some nutrition and dietary advice. I am a generally healthy 38 year old married mother of two (aged 6 and 4) and I would like some advice on meal planning for myself and the family. I know what I should be eating to be healthy but putting it into practice can be more difficult to achieve, especially juggling a career and busy home life. I'd be interested in a personal consultation/review so that I can know what to buy and cook to be fit and healthy going into my 40s. Please can you point me in the right direction. Many thanks in advance.

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The answer

The key to the healthiest diet is variety. If we first consider the four main food groups that make up a healthy diet, these are fruit and vegetables; wholegrains and potatoes; protein foods such as meat, fish, nuts and pulses; and dairy products such as yogurt. While it’s important that foods from each group are included every day, or possibly at each meal, it’s also important that we eat different foods from each group. For instance, it’s often easy to eat meat of some kind for evening meals, however, try some fish and pulse based meals and when choosing vegetables aim to include the whole spectrum of colours from green broccoli to purple beetroot.

Another key element to achieving a healthy diet is managing portion size. Too many of us have carb heavy breakfasts and lunches, and then a big portion of protein at dinner. It’s much better to have a more even split at each meal. This might mean swapping your bowl of cereal or 2 slices of toast with marmalade for a yogurt with nuts or one slice of wholegrain toast with a poached egg. Similarly swap your sandwich at lunchtime for a bowl of vegetable and bean soup and your evening pasta dish for a chicken and butternut squash stir fry.

Answered by Dr Sarah Schenker.


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