In celebration of National Nutrition Week in October, we asked a dietician to share her best nutrition advice that can apply to everyone.
South Africa commemorates National Nutrition Week every October to encourage South Africans to make healthy choices towards improved nutrition. This year National Nutrition Week runs from 9 to 15 October. To help shed some scientific nutrition advice, we asked dietician and professional triathlete Mariella Sawyer to share some nutrition tips that can apply to or help anyone.
“I believe that while food is fuel, it is also so much more than just calories,” says Mariella. “It’s something we build memories around and something that is there to be enjoyed. Balance is key and I’m no fan of restriction, cutting out whole food groups and fear-mongering,” she says. “I’m also a big advocate for mindful eating and listening to your body in terms of how you feel and honouring that!”
Healthy Eating Guidelines That Apply To Everyone
- Think carbs, protein and colour. “I would say that the big guideline I give to almost all of my clients is to ensure that meals and snacks are balanced in terms of carbs, protein and colour – vegetables and fruit,” says Mariella. “This will ensure a more balanced blood-sugar response, which will result in better energy levels throughout the day, fewer cravings and just feeling better! And, yes, snacks are important,” she says.
- “The plate model is quite handy – when looking at your plate a good general rule of thumb is to aim to have half of the plate be filled with veggies, a quarter of the plate with protein and a quarter of the plate with carbs,” she says. However, Mariella adds that “These portions will differ if you are training a lot.”
- “Crash diets don’t work. It is what we do consistently that brings about the biggest changes. And we need to learn to be mindful of our eating.
- “Balance is key. Aim to make food choices that honour your health 80 percent of the time and the other 20 percent you can choose foods based on taste alone.”
Other than these four main guidelines, Mariella also advises “increasing fibre intake, along with aiming to eat three to four cups of vegetables per day and staying hydrated!”
If you’re serious about making healthy, sustainable nutrition choices, speak to a qualified dietician for a tailor-made programme that suits your individual needs.