The ideal plate of food

What should your plate of food look like? How many protein foods, carbohydrates and vegetables should you include? This graphic illustrates the ideal plate of food:

In other words, a quarter of your plate should be made up of protein foods, such as meat, fish or eggs; another quarter should be made up of carbohydrates, such as rice, pasta or potatoes; half of your plate should consist of vegetables and/or fruit; and a mere teaspoon of your plate should be made up of fats and oils.

Take note of the following in terms of these different groups:

Protein foods: Try to eat fish at least twice a week, cut back on the red meat (also try to select lean cuts), and remember to remove the skin if you're eating chicken. If you don't suffer from high cholesterol, you can eat eggs three times a week.

Carbohydrates: If you're trying to lose weight, it's a good idea to eat more of the low glycaemic-index foods. These foods will ensure a slow, gradual release of energy. You'll also feel satisfied for longer. Choose whole-wheat products if you have a choice - as these generally have a lower glycaemic index.

Vegetables and fruit: When it comes to the fruit/vegetable portion of your plate, you should try to include as much colour as possible. The colour pigments in fresh produce have health-boosting properties. Go for variety, but don't go overboard on the starchy vegetables - as these will contribute more calories.

Fats and oils: Steer clear of saturated and trans fatty acids, and go for mono- and polyunsaturated fats (e.g. olive oil and canola oil). Also try to use as little oil as possible when preparing food. Try to grill, bake or poach foods instead of frying them.

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