Everyone is probably familiar with the food pyramid – a diagram showing the recommended types and proportions of each food type to eat. This is based on meat, dairy, wheat products as well as fruit and veggies. However, if you eat a plant-based diet, like we do here at La Crisalida, then the standard pyramid does not work! In this article we look at a slightly different food pyramid (without meat and dairy) and consider why it is helpful when thinking about preparing healthy meals for you and your family.
Our food pyramid looks like this:
70% live foods
10% vegetable proteins
10% complex carbohydrates
So what does this mean?
Live foods (70% of your diet)
We’re talking fruit and veggies here. The approach we suggest is 80% vegetable and 20% fruit. Raw is good, or if you want to cook your veggies then steam, rather than fry. These foods are water rich, which helps to hydrate and cleanse your body. When selecting fruit, choose the lower-sugar options, like lemon and lime, tomato and grapefruit.
Vegetable proteins (10%)
Great sources of veggie protein include:
• Legumes – like lentils, beans (including soy beans and soy products like tofu), peas and chickpeas. Legumes are great because they are low in fat, high in fibre and high in protein.
• Nuts and seeds – like hazelnuts, almonds, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds
• Deep green veggies
To ensure that you have a complete biological protein in each meal you need to combine things like legumes and grains, or lentils and green leafy veggies.
Complex carbohydrates (10%)
A great source of complex carbohydrates are wholegrains like basmati rice, millet, buckwheat, quinoa and spelt. These wholegrains also provide fibre – keeping your digestive tract healthy and helping to remove toxins from the body. For daily life, our body needs carbohydrates for energy and proper functioning of cells. However not all carbs are the same. Complex carbohydrates take a longer time for the body to break down and use, which provide you with more consistent energy than simple carbs. (Simple carbs are things like sugars, maple syrup, honey etc, or pasta, white bread and white rice). Potatoes are technically a complex carb, however they act more like simple carbs in the body – choose a jacket potato over French fries! Or, even better, choose a sweet potato.
The body needs oils and good fats. Think about including oils like olive and flaxseed, maybe in your salad dressings. Regular portions of avocado are ideal. Choose cold pressed oils and serve unheated.
A useful tip is to think about this food pyramid when meal planning or serving up your dinner plate.
If you eat like this for most of your meals, you will reach and maintain your ideal weight. To your health!