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A balanced diet contains a variety of foods from each food group

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A balanced diet contains a variety of foods from each food group, since each food offers different energy providing nutrients as well as vitamins and minerals. The key to a balanced diet is to acknowledge grains, vegetables and fruits and ensure that you eat more of these than foods from the meat, fish, legumes and milk groups. Including a variety of foods on your plate also keeps meals interesting and full of flavour.
We generally divide food into one of six groups:

grains
vegetables
fruit
dairy
protein
legumes

The South African food guide teaches us:
1.  … to make the right choices in selecting our food to encourage healthy eating plans
2.  … to indicate which food groups should make up more of your diet and which should be eaten sparingly
3.  … to indicate how much of each food group you should include in your diet, based on your age, gender and level of activity.

Below is an image illustrating the portions you should keep in mind when compiling your eating plan:

5foodgroups

To make sure you get variety in your diet, here is a range of examples from each food group:

Grains: there are two types of grains – whole grains and refined grains. At least half of the grains you eat should include food like whole-wheat bread, whole-grain cereals and crackers, oatmeal and brown rice (all whole grains). Refined grains include white bread, white rice, enriched pasta and most noodles.

Vegetables: you can include fresh, frozen, canned or dried vegetables and you can eat them whole, cut-up, or mashed. A variety of dark green, red and orange vegetables, as well as beans and peas (which are also considered part of the protein group),  should be included. Examples of these include broccoli, carrots, collard greens, split peas, green beans, black-eyed peas, lima beans, potatoes, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and kidney beans. Any vegetable or 100% vegetable juice counts in this group.

Fruits: as with vegetables, you can eat your fruit either fresh, canned, frozen or dried, whole, cut-up, or pureed. Examples include apples, apricots, bananas, dates, grapes, oranges, grapefruit, mangoes, melons, peaches, pineapples, raisins, strawberries, tangerines, and 100% fruit juices like those in our Clover Krush range.

Dairy: choose fat-free or low-fat milk and dairy products. Examples include milk, cheeses, and yogurt as well as lactose-free and lactose-reduced products as well as soy beverages. Foods that are made from milk but have little or no calcium are not included, such as butter, cream, sour cream, and cream cheese. You can select any of our Clover products from our cheese, milk, butter and cream ranges to ensure you include sufficient dairy in your diet.

Protein: you can choose to include a variety of lean meats and poultry, seafood, legumes and peas, eggs, processed soy products, unsalted nuts and seeds in your diet. Make sure to include seafood in a meal each week.

Here are some tips you can use to ensure your diet is in check!

1.    Balance Your Energy Intake

Find out how many kilojoules you need in a day as a first step in managing your weight. Being physically active also helps you balance your diet.

2.    Enjoy Your Food but Eat Less

Take the time to enjoy your food as you eat it. If you are rushed or distracted, you might eat too many kilojoules. Pay attention to your body – eat something if you’re hungry and stop eating when you’re full. When eating out, choose a smaller size option, share a dish, or take home part of your meal.

3.    Foods to Eat more Often

Eat more vegetables, fruits, whole grains and Clover Great Taste No Fat or 2% Low Fat Milk and dairy products. These foods have the nutrients you need for health and include among others: potassium, calcium, vitamin D, and fiber . Make these the basis for meals and snacks.

4.    Make Half Your Plate Fruit & Vegetables

Choose red, orange and dark-green vegetables like tomatoes, sweet potatoes and broccoli, along with other vegetables for your meals. Add fruit to meals as part of main or side dishes or as dessert.

5.    Make Half Your Grains Whole Grains

To eat more whole grains, swop refined grains like white bread with whole grains such as whole-wheat bread.

6.    Foods to Eat Less Often

Cut back on foods that are high in solid fats, added sugars and salt. These include cakes, cookies, ice cream, candies, sweetened drinks, pizza and fatty meats like ribs, sausages, bacon and hot dogs. Use these foods as occasional treats, not everyday foods.

7.    Compare Sodium in Foods

Use the Nutrition Facts label to choose lower sodium options of your food. Select foods that are labelled “low sodium”, ”reduced sodium” or “no salt added”.

8.    Drink Water Instead of Sugary Drinks

Avoid unnecessary energy intake by drinking water or unsweetened beverages. Soda, energy drinks and sports drinks are a major source of added sugar and kilojoules.

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