The benefits of a plant-based and balanced diet
Eating a variety of good foods can put you on the fast track to a healthier lifestyle, along with getting enough sleep, exercising regularly and taking care of your mental health. But with so much information out there it’s easy to get confused.
There’s been a lot of buzz around adopting a plant-based and balanced diet lately and for good reason. To boost your knowledge, let’s take a look at what this diet involves and some delicious options you can find on iPantry to make meal time a little more fun.
What is a plant-based diet?
A plant-based diet doesn’t mean you don’t ever eat meat or dairy, but it does mean that your primary focus is on including as many plants as possible into your day. It’s more than fresh fruit and vegetables (though they are really important) – it also includes legumes, nuts, seeds, oils, beans and wholegrains.
There are many benefits to a plant-based diet, such as:
- Improves your gut health
- Lowers the risk of heart disease
- Reduces inflammation in the body, and
- Boosts your immune system.
Exploring the world of plant-based recipes can be a fun adventure for the whole family, too. Eating your vegetables doesn’t have to be bland or boring either – there are more cuisines and alternatives available now than ever before.
Making plant-based meals
Cooking predominantly with plants doesn’t mean you have to rely solely on tofu to get your protein hit (although it’s a solid option). We love Quorn as an alternative to meat, especially their hot and spicy burger patties.
Ready-made plant-based meals
We know it can be hard to decide what to cook, especially if you’re changing things up in your diet. To put you on the path to plant-based glory, here are some great ready-made meals from our restaurant partners we reckon you’ll fall head over heels for:
- Mushroom Methi Malai from Atta
- 6 pack of Vegetarian Tacos from Vamos
- Pumpkin Wood Ear Mushroom & Coconut Curry from Taxi Kitchen
- Vegie Bar (a Melbourne icon)
- A25 Vegan Pizza and Lasagna, and
- Vegan Vietnamese Fried Tofu Noodles from Fig.
What is a balanced diet?
Put simply, a balanced diet involves giving your body the nutrients it needs to function optimally. You can eat a variety of foods on a balanced diet, including meat, poultry and seafood, fruit and vegetables, grains, dairy, fats and sugars.
According to the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating, you should aim to eat an assortment of foods from five key food groups, which are:
- Grains and wholegrains
- Vegetables and legumes/beans
- Dairy and milk products, and
- Lean meats and poultry.
You should also limit the amount of oils, alcohol, soft drinks and processed foods you consume (think of them as a ‘sometimes’ food).
Whole foods diet inspiration
Whole foods are those foods that are as close to their natural form as possible. They’re a great way to achieve balanced nutrition in your day to day life. If you’re looking to add more whole foods into your diet, here are some tips we recommend:
- Opt for 100% wholegrains, where possible
- Ditch the fast or processed foods, they’re typically overloaded with sugar and bad fats
- Stick to beverages that aren’t full of sugar such as water, green tea, skim or soy milks, and
- Add beans, fruit and vegetables to every meal (including your snacks).
Tips for maintaining a healthy diet
There are lots of ways you can stay healthy, especially where your diet is concerned. While we’re not qualified dietitians, we do have three quick and easy tips you can start using today to stay on top of your health.
Drink more water
Oftentimes we think we’re hungry when we’re actually dehydrated. How much water we each need depends on a few different factors, like how much we weigh and our level of exercise. Generally speaking, we need 35mL of fluid per kilogram of bodyweight. So if you weigh 65kg, you’ll likely need to drink around 2.275L each day.
Don’t keep unhealthy snacks at home
The occasional treat is okay, but if you’re keeping blocks of chocolate or bags of salty chips in the cupboard, it’s going to be harder to make good choices. Switch up your snacks and keep plenty of nuts, fruit and vegetables on hand for when you need a little top up.
Try mindful eating
Instead of inhaling your meal while scrolling on social media or in front of the TV, practice eating mindfully. Notice the texture of your food, savour the flavours – pay attention to what and how you eat to really enjoy your food.