Purple eggplant, green beans and red chili peppers in a market stall.


Take charge of your health by maintaining a balanced diet.

No single food provides all the nutrients needed for good health, so it’s important to eat a variety of foods for different vitamins and nutrients. 

FRUITS AND VEGETABLES: Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables that are rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals. To maximize your nutrient intake, eat a variety of fruits and vegetables every day.

WHOLE GRAINS: Fill a quarter of your plate with whole grains, such as brown rice, whole meal bread and rolled oats. These foods are high in fiber, vitamins B and E, iron, zinc and magnesium, and can help reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Plus, whole grains are filling, so they can help you manage your weight.

MEAT AND OTHERS: To help build and repair tissues in the body, fill a quarter of your plate with protein-rich foods, including lean meats like chicken, fish, beans, lentils, tofu and nuts. And be sure to consume calcium-rich foods every day, such as milk, yogurt, cheese, tofu and sardines. Choose low-fat or non-fat dairy products to help maintain a healthy weight. If you’re lactose intolerant, try calcium-fortified soymilk.

The Balancing Game
The key to balance is making informed decisions. Choosing healthy foods for each meal isn’t always easy, so it’s important to balance your meals. For example, if you have a high-fat lunch with lots of meat, go for a dinner that is lower in fat and contains generous amounts of vegetables. Another key to the balancing act is choosing nutritionally dense foods that give you the most essential nutrients that your body needs for the fewest number of calories.

These include foods like:

  • Lean meat, skinless poultry and tofu
  • Fruits like strawberries, papaya, mango and watermelon
  • Vegetables like spinach and carrots
  • Whole grain bread and brown rice
  • Low-fat milk

Don’t Forget to Fuel Up
Try to eat three main meals or several small meals throughout the day. Giving your body nutrients in this way helps regulate blood sugar levels better through the day. Plus, when you fuel your body regularly, you will have peak energy levels and no mid-day fatigue. Drinking 8-10 glasses of water per day will keep you hydrated and full.

Source: Reprinted from "Mind Your Body", The Straits Times, August 20, 2009.

Information provided is for general background purposes and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment by a trained professional. You should always consult your physician about any healthcare questions you may have, especially before trying a new medication, diet, fitness program, or approach to healthcare issues.
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