Food for many is guided by a nutritionist, many eat or can I say don’t eat as per religious beliefs, most of us have taste driven choices while many carve for variety. Certainly many among us are conscious eaters where as surprisingly some are so possessive about the food they eat that even the shape and the size of the cut vegetables matters. On a macro level, we all look for similar qualities from our plate
However, the proportions of these qualities are different for different people. It is good to abide by the standard caloric requirement set by USDA for different age group. But, it is very difficult to maintain it for a long time because with time habits, location, surrounding and preferences also change. Therefore what’s more important is understanding how to make best choices with the available options.
STRENGTH: strength comes from a combination of various foods and food groups like dairy products, whole grains and cereals, meat and fish. These food groups are necessary for day-to-day activity. Did you know brain uses glucose as the only source of energy and we obtain glucose from complex and simple carbs that we eat in the form of breads, chapattis, rolls, fruits etc. Also out of all the nutrients, our body digests glucose first. In short anything we eat is first broken down to glucose and from here the complex digestion and absorption processes start. This is why carbohydrates are considered to be regulators of body functions. This it self explains why it is important not to skip your breakfast, consume variety of carbs like complex obtained from bajra, jowar, barley and simple carbs obtain from beans, legumes, fruits and milk.
VARIETY: This component is variable depending upon different people. Important is to expose our body to various options and not limit the body to just few items. You can bring variety not only in the cuisines but also in food combinations, ingredients, cooking method, and you will see that each variation will have its own taste and flavor. Bringing variety not only brings variation to taste buds but also expose the body to various sources of nutrients. For example, if you want to improve your good cholesterol you must not only rely on common foods like walnuts and almonds but every once in a while try other options like olive oil, avocado in different forms. Variety is the way to go!
HEALTH: This is my favorite component of my plate. My mind is constantly calculating the health benefits of any food that I eat!! Fortified, pre biotic, fiber rich organic, are all numerous terms given to food items by the food industry that are sold under the label of health foods. In my opinion health foods are those that are least processed, fresh and cooked and stored with accurate methods. Thus when I say health foods I think of raw fruits and vegetables, nuts and oil seeds, sprouts and healthy cooking methods. All these foods may or may not be calorie dense but they are certainly nutrient dense. Be aware, health foods are certainly not those that are available in packets and tin with a nutritional label claiming to be healthy. Health foods give a wide variety and combinations of micronutrients like potassium, magnesium, fiber, and essential oils, which are good for the heart, skin, hair etc. However, be advised that this food group solely cannot fill up your plate even if they are nutrients rich!
TASTE: When I think of taste I picture the image as below. And being a wife I can so relate this picture to my husband and myself! Doesn’t this stand true for most of us? It is often observed women not caring much about taste and is willing to eat anything in the name of health where as men do not know what health is but they certainly know what their taste buds want. As a kid I have watched my mom often not caring much of the variety either and preferred eating left over or just simple meals to her convenience because her priority was to look after the kids and her husband. Thus self-care always took a back seat. It is important to know that taste plays a psychological effect on food. Food that is relished with a happy state of mind, enjoyed every bite has a better success of digestion due to the difference in the hormones released during the whole process in compare to the food eaten in hurry, with occupied mind or just gulped down for the sake of it! A Variety in taste can be brought about by herbs and spices and certainly different cooking method.
Congratulations!! You have managed to read this long post!!! Well, creating my plate is not just science but it is a true art! A thorough knowledge of the functions and benefits of food and their application in day to day life processes will help you choose your plate in the best possible ways!