Top Tips To Eating Healthy

Sticking to a nutritious diet and healthy lifestyle will not only help you maintain a good body weight, but will also give you more energy and improve your overall health. A healthy diet is very important in helping prevent or decrease the risk of developing diseases like diabetes, osteoporosis or stroke.

That’s why Willowton Group has partnered with the Heart & Stroke Foundation to ensure that we provide quality products that are in keeping with the Heart Mark criteria.

Eat a variety of different, wholesome, foods like fruit and vegetables every day, so that you get all the required energy, macronutrients and micronutrients that your body needs. Balance diet with physical activity and remember to stay hydrated with at least 6 – 8 glasses of water each day. A healthy diet should provide you with enough energy, or kilojoules, to fuel your body and mind.

Be mindful of portion sizes as this can sometimes lead to overeating. The amount of serving depends on how many calories you require and this will depend on criteria like your age, gender, physical activities and special medical circumstances – like if you have diabetes or if you are pregnant.

Check with your doctor, a dietitian or the South African Food-based Dietary Guidelines to work out a meal plan that best suits your unique nutritional requirements. Once you have assessed your needs, you can tailor your diet accordingly.

Be mindful of portion sizes as this can sometimes lead to overeating. The amount of serving depends on how many calories you require and this will depend on criteria like your age, gender, physical activities and special medical circumstances – like if you have diabetes or if you are pregnant.

Check with your doctor, a dietitian or the South African Food-based Dietary Guidelines to work out a meal plan that best suits your unique nutritional requirements. Once you have assessed your needs, you can tailor your diet accordingly.

According to the Heart & Stroke Foundation guidelines:

  • ½ of your plate should include non-starchy vegetables like broccoli or cabbage
  • ¼ of your plate should include high fibre starches like rice, pasta or butternut
  • ¼ of your plate should include lean protein like chick, fish or soya products
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Fresh fruit
  • Lean protein like red meat, poultry or fish
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Eggs
  • Dairy like milk and yoghurt
  • Healthy starches like brown rice or whole wheat pasta
  • Sugar
  • Trans fats
  • Refined carbohydrates
  • Vegetable oils
  • Processed foods
  • Food with a high salt / sodium content

Understanding food Labels & Portion Size

The best way to understand what you’re eating is by having an understanding of food labels and portion, or serving size.

South Africa is governed by food labelling regulations where manufacturers are required to provide a comprehensive listing of ingredients on food packaging. This serves to inform and protect the consumer.

Here’s an easy guide to follow when it comes to understanding food labels:

All the ingredients included in a product are listed on the packaging. Ingredients are listed in order of descending weight. In other words, if sugar is listed first then it is the ingredient in the most used ingredient.

The nutritional table information shows how much energy, macronutrients and micronutrients are contained in food.

The table gives this information per 100g and per serving. It should also provide the average serving size. So if a table indicates that there is 25g of protein per 100g, but the serving size is only 5g that means that there is less than 1g of protein per serving.

This food is….Per 100g of food
Fat freeLess than 0.5g of fat per 100g
Low fatLess than 3g of fat per 100g
Low in saturated fatLess than 1.5g of saturated fat per 100g
Low in energyLess than 170kJ per 100g
Low in salt / sodiumLess than 0.3g of salt or 120mg sodium per 100g
High in dietary fibreMore than 6g of fibre per 100g
High in proteinMore than 10g of protein per 100g
High in vitamins & mineralsMore than 30% of the nutrient reference value (NRV) per serving

There are different regulations pertaining to dairy products, which are labelled as follows:

Fat free0% – 0.5% fat
Low fat0.5% – 1.5% fat
Medium fat/medium cream1.5% – 3.3% fat
Full fat/full cream/whole3.3% – 4.5% fat
High fat4.5% or more
1 R146. Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act (54/1972): Regulations relating to the Labelling and advertising of foods.1 March 2010.
2 R260.Regulations relating to the classification, packing and marking of dairy products and imitation dairy products intended for sale in the Republic of South Africa. 27 March 2015
3 Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act (54/1972): Regulations relating to Labelling and Advertising of Foodstuffs. Department of Health.  Relating to the Labelling and Advertising of Foods: Amendment. R429 of 29 May 2014.

Ingredients that are linked to certain food sensitivities or include common allergens, such as egg, cow’s milk, crustaceans and molluscs, fish, peanuts, soybeans, tree nuts and any significant cereals (wheat, rye barley ) or gluten.

‘Sugar-free’ means that there is not more than 0.5g per 100g, ‘No sugar added’ means that the product does not contain added syrups like mono and disaccharides (sugars), honey, molasses or fruit concentrate sucrose with added molasses, coloured sugar, fruit juice concentrate, deflavoured and/or deionised fruit juice and concentrates thereof, fruit nectar, fruit and vegetable pulp, dried fruit paste, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), malt or any other syrup of various origins, whey powder, milk solids or any derivative thereof, but may contain naturally occurring sugars.

Check if a product is endorsed by a reputable organisation, like the Heart & Stroke Foundation, which has been approved by the Director General of the Department of Health. These organisations promote evidence-based nutritional health promotion and selected products will bear their logo, like the Heart Mark, on the manufacturer’s food label.

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