Australia's purest water

By Dr Joanna McMillan

Joanna is a registered nutritionist and dietician with a PhD in nutritional science from the University of Sydney. She is the resident nutrition expert for Channel 9’s Today Show, contributor to magazines including Life Etc and Slimming & Health and author of numerous books including Inner Health Outer Beauty, Star Foods and the Low GI Diet.

Following an expert designed meal plan is all well and good for a week or two, but long lasting results require permanent change to your eating habits and that means knowing how to do it for yourself. To help you achieve this, here is my suggested template for how to create your meals.

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This model allows you to translate the New Food Pyramid into a plate model for each meal. It is not meant to be set in stone, rather serve as a guide. So don’t stress if at breakfast you have a bit too many carbs and not enough fruit or veg, but then at dinner have steak and salad and not so many carbs. The point is to allow these things to balance out and overall to meet this pattern.

Try to fill half your plate with veggies and/or fruit. This is easiest to do at dinner, but work on the other meals. These foods best meet our requirement for low energy but high nutrient density. They pack loads of nutrition into only a few kilojoules.

Then add a moderate serve of both a high protein and a high carb meal, choosing quality over quantity. For the carbs that means a low GI, nutrient-rich food, and for protein one that is low in saturated fats, perhaps a source of omega-3 essential fats and certainly rich in other nutrients such as iron and zinc. Finally add some healthy fat for both taste and nutrition. This might be in the form of a healthy oil to cook, in a sauce or dressing or from a food such as avocado, nuts and seeds, or hummus. Cheese can also count here – although it’s high in saturated fat it is high in other nutrients, especially minerals such as calcium and zinc. Just be sensible about the frequency and portion size you eat.

Click here to download suggested template for how to create your breakfasts, lunches and dinners.