Often I am asked by friends or acquaintances to give them a simple “ healthy eating diet plan”, which I explain isn’t actually all that simple, given that I only know minimal information about their particular circumstances (i.e. social and medical history), have no idea of what their goals are, what they have or haven’t tried in the past, or what are currently eating (which I then get a verbal recall of everything they had for the previous day, or that morning).
People often get quite confused (and rightly so) because there is an abundance of information out there, which, to the untrained eye can give off conflicting messages. The truth is that all too often a lot of these messages are driven by some financial incentive, or as I am currently reading in my newly purchased book “Diet Cults” by Matt Fitzgerald, give people a sense of “belonging”, which has been practiced for hundreds of thousands of years.
The reality is, that there really is no “one-size fits all approach”, and one persons “diet plan” may not work for the next person, nor would such a structured approach work for everyone, though it may work for some, this is one of the issues present when attempting to go off of diet plans sourced on the internet, or in a book (in addition to the fact that they are often not based on sound Science and instead use Pseudoscience and emotive messages to draw people in), not to mention the cost of some of these diet plans and what they entail.
If you are after a guide however, that is based upon Science “The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating” is a good reference point, and is developed by the National Health and Medical Research Council: http://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/guidelines. These guidelines are developed with the intention to meet nutrient requirements, avoid deficiencies, as well as provide weight maintenance. Provided that portions are controlled are recommended serving sizes are adhered to (in addition to including physical activity) they may also assist in weight loss.
- Breads, Cereals, Rice and Pasta (wholegrain varieties)
- Dairy (and alternatives)
- Lean Meats, Fish and Poultry (and alternatives)
*The amount of each can be found on the above website: the summary is probably the easiest to navigate through.
I have found that people also get confused or stuck on what to snack on, but considering that 2 servings of fruit, and 2-3 servings of dairy is necessary and are recommended for good health, these are always good options, as are vegetables.
Something you may also not realise is that the recommendation of meat alternatives include things such as nuts and legumes, and these can be a healthy (and often more viable) alternative to meat consumption (which compared to legumes tend to be higher in energy, lower in fibre- and often eaten in higher than recommended amounts).
If you are looking for more specific advice, have a medical condition, have specific goals or are one of those people that like more structure, then seeing a Dietitian may be a good way to go.