Meeting Everybody's Nutrition Needs
Healthy eating habits for the whole family
The whole family can discover the fun of eating a varied diet. Each person can choose from the food available according to their taste preferences, their energy needs and nutritional requirements. All you need is some good recipes, a well-stocked pantry and some menu planning.
What if someone in the family is trying to lose weight?
Nothing needs to be ruled out altogether when you are following a weight-loss diet. The only thing that changes is the quantity of food eaten and awareness of what your body needs. It is easy for one member of the family to lose weight if the whole family has a varied diet, by taking foods from the core food groups.
Attractively presented, well-cooked, varied dishes, whether based on meat, fish, vegetables, potatoes or other carbohydrates are sure to tempt everybody. And what’s more, any members of the family who are on a special diet won’t feel left out because you’re all eating the same thing! They will feel you are supporting them and that is a great help.
Draw up a menu plan with members of your family who are trying to lose weight. There’s no need to go on a restrictive diet. Simply sticking to the recommended serves of food from the food guide and including some regular physical activity is often enough to reach a healthy weight.
There is a direct link between the way you eat and your health: to live well, you firstly need to eat well. Making changes in your diet can help improve your health. Eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes as well as a variety of foods from the core food groups may help maintain a good immune system.
The Mediterranean diet
People who follow a traditional Mediterranean diet and lifestyle tend to have a longer life expectancy than most other people.
What is the Mediterranean diet?
The Mediterranean diet is based on bread and pasta, fresh vegetables and legumes, cereals and fruit, seafood, cheese, olive oil, herbs and fermented dairy products like yogurt. Meat consumption is moderate, but there is more fish and shellfish – and a little red wine. This nutritious diet certainly isn’t short on good smell, taste, colour and pleasure!
In addition, for the people of the Mediterranean region, it is not enough just to prepare good, well-balanced meals. They also have to take the time to savour their food in peace and quiet, relax in order to digest their food and take enough time to really live.
Olive oil and other fats – a healthy source of energy
Fats and oils can be of animal origin (milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, lard, meat, and fish) or of plant origin (olive, sunflower, canola and peanut oils, etc.)
There are three main types of fats:
- Saturated fats – limit these as they can raise your blood cholesterol level. These fats are found in fatty meats, full cream dairy foods, coconut milk/cream, palm oil, baked goods such as biscuits, cakes, pastries and pies.
- Monounsaturated fats have little effect on blood cholesterol levels (and may have a small positive effect). They are found in many plant oils in large proportions, especially in olive and canola oils, peanuts, avocado, lean meat, chicken and egg yolks.
- Polyunsaturated fats reduce blood cholesterol and are beneficial to health. These fats fit into two major classes – omega 3 and omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Both are good and should be included in the diet. Omega 3 fatty acids are abundant in oily fish like Atlantic salmon, mackerel, trevally and sardines and can be found in plant oils and spreads made from canola and soybeans. Omega 6 fatty acids are found in polyunsaturated margarines and oils (e.g. sunflower, soybean, corn), walnuts, pecans and Brazil nuts.
Where good health tastes good
- In some Mediterranean countries even infants eat olive oil!. Olive oil tastes good and brings out the flavour of food. Being high in monounsaturated fats, it’s a good oil.
- The people of the Mediterranean also add garlic to many of their meals which can also contribute to good health. In some areas, breakfast consists of bread rubbed with a clove of garlic or served with olives and onions.
- Antioxidants are a group of compounds found in foods which protect our cells. They "neutralise" free radicals, which are substances produced in the body that contribute to abnormal cells being made. Antioxidants are found in high amounts in fruits, vegetables and legumes.
- Feta, mozzarella and yogurt are full of calcium and so help to keep bones strong.