It’s important to get the right amount of protein, fat, carbohydrate, fibre, vitamins and minerals to fuel your body. The healthy eating pyramid is a simple visual guide that can help you plan a well-balanced meal. Imagine a pyramid where the larger base is made up of plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, cereals, beans and nuts. You should be eating these food types the most. The next section up – which is smaller than the base – shows animal products such as meat, fish, milk and eggs. These should be eaten in moderation. The narrowest section at the top, shows energy-dense foods such as sugar, fats and oils. These should be eaten in small amounts or avoided completely.
As well as using the pyramid to help guide how much of each food type you should eat each day, the Eating a Rainbow challenge is a great way to make sure you’re getting all the different nutrients that you need. When it comes to fruit and vegetables, we know we should be getting our ‘five a day’ but what many people don’t realise is that variety is just as important as quantity. Different coloured fruits and vegetables contain different vitamins and minerals, all of which play a vital role in our physical and mental health.
Red fruits and vegetables, such as tomatoes, strawberries and cherries contain lycopene, which is a powerful antioxidant and can help keep your heart healthy. Purple and blue colouring in beetroot, plums and blackberries comes from anthocyanin, which can protect our cells against damage. The yellow and orange colouring of sweet potatoes, carrots and pumpkins is from carotenoids, which converts to vitamin A and can help keep our eyes healthy. Leafy greens such as spinach and kale are an excellent source of folate, while brown and white fruits and vegetables such as garlic have antiviral and antibacterial properties. Bananas and potatoes are also a good source of potassium.
Eating a Rainbow is a great way to encourage children to try new fruits and vegetables – by either creating a rainbow of food on their plate or adding stickers to a chart when they eat a different colour.