Overview

Tips for a balanced nutrition

A balanced nutrition strengthens the body's immune system, but snacking is also permitted. Our tips help you in finding the right balance. Find out what you should consider and test your eating habits.

A balanced nutrition is an important basis for your well-being and yet there are no prohibited foods, the key is the right combination in the right ratio. This includes many other foods besides vegetables, salads and fruit.

Step-by-step towards a balanced nutrition

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More about the Helsana Coach app

These 10 nutrition recommendations will help you to balance your food and beverage choices:
  1. Enjoy a wide variety of food: prefer unprocessed and seasonal products
  2. Fruit and vegetables: five times a day – two servings of fruit and three servings of vegetables
  3. Choose wholemeal products: they are richer in nutrients and saturate better and longer than white flour products
  4. Add protein-rich foods to your nutrition: they provide protein and minerals, and some also provide calcium or iron and they offer saturation
  5. Consciously use fats and oils: prefer vegetable oils and watch out for hidden fats
  6. Use sugar and salt sparingly: favour unsweetened beverages, mix with seasonal fruit or herbs
  7. Drink enough fluids: spread out over the course of the day, the ideal amount is one to two litres of unsweetened beverages, e.g. tap or mineral water
  8. Gentle cooking process: cook for a short period in the steamer or sieve insert
  9. Try eating with mindfulness and savour the flavour: eat consciously and enjoy every mouthful
  10. Give yourself plenty of time to eat: the feeling of saturation sets in after about 20 minutes.

Exercise is the ideal complement to a balanced nutrition. The ideal weekly amount is 2.5 hours with medium intensity or half as long with high intensity activity, spread out over several days.

Further tips for a balanced nutrition

Fruit and vegetables – five servings in different colours every day

Not only do they contain vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre and water, they are packed with nutrients and low in calories and they give us good saturation. The benefits of a daily dose are manifold:

  • Three servings of vegetables as a side dish, salad, soup or sauce
  • in addition two servings of fruit.
  • One serving is at least 120 g, i.e. about a handful.
  • If you wish, you can replace one serving with 200 ml of unsweetened fruit or vegetable juice.
Grains, potatoes and legumes – three times a day

These foods provide the body with carbohydrates in the form of starch. They are important providers of energy for the muscles, brain and other organs. They also contain vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre. The dietary fibre in wholemeal products and legumes help saturate you longer and regulate digestion. When choosing grains, be sure to opt for wholemeal varieties, e.g. wholemeal bread, brown rice or wholemeal flakes. For example, one serving is:

  • 75–125 g bread/dough
  • 45–75 g crispbread or flakes
  • 60–100 g legumes
  • 45–75 g pasta, rice, grains (dry weight)
  • 180–300 g potatoes

The recommended serving size depends on the amount of energy required. People who do not exercise much require smaller servings. Active people require bigger servings.

Dairy products, meat, fish, eggs and tofu – three daily servings

They contain plenty of protein and keep you saturated for a long time. Protein is an important nutrient for the body, for example for our muscles and our immune system. These foods provide valuable nutrients like calcium (milk and dairy products), iron (meat and eggs), omega-3 fatty acids (fish) or Vitamin B12 (all sources of animal protein). For this reason, ensure that you eat:

  • Three servings of milk or dairy products daily.
  • One serving is:
    • 2 dl milk
    • 150–200 g yoghurt, quark or cottage cheese
    • 30 g semi-hard cheese, hard cheese or 60 g soft cheese
  • In addition, eat another serving of protein in alternation: plant-based protein sources, e.g. 100 to 120 g of tofu, seitan or Quorn. One serving is two to three eggs or 100 to 120 g of fish. Opt for fish from sustainable fishing grounds.
  • If you eat meat, two to three 100 to 120 g servings per week are sufficient.
Oil, fat and nuts – in moderation

Foods with a high fat content should be consumed in moderation. Fat contains more than twice as much energy (calories) as carbohydrates or proteins. The fatty acids and the Vitamin E contained within these foods are important for our body, and therefore we have to obtain them through our nutrition. Pay attention to the quality and opt for vegetable oils:

  • 2–3 tablespoons (20–30 g) vegetable oil per day, at least half in the form of canola oil.
  • One small handful (20–30 g) of unsalted nuts, seeds or kernels per day.
  • Use butter, margarine and cream sparingly: approx. 1 tbsp = 10 g per day.
Sweets, salty snacks and alcohol – savour in moderation

They provide a lot of energy (calories) in the form of sugar, fat or alcohol. Too much sugar can cause tooth decay and food cravings. Salt is often contained in large quantities, but vitamins and minerals hardly ever are. Foods like crisps, salted nuts or alcoholic beverages provide empty calories, or in other words: energy without valuable nutrients like vitamins or minerals.

It is therefore important to ensure that you do not overindulge in these kinds of food. One daily serving is about one small handful of salted snacks or one row of chocolate. Also hold back when adding salt to your food.

Alcoholic beverages are rich in energy: 1 gram of alcohol provides 7 kcal (1 dl of wine contains 10 g of alcohol). By comparison, 1 gram of fat provides 9 kcal and 1 gram of protein or carbohydrates provides 4 kcal. Drink alcohol in moderation and preferably with a meal.

Beverages – plenty, spread out over the day

Drink one to two litres of fluids a day, preferably in the form of unsweetened beverages (tap water or mineral water, fruit tea, or herbal tea).

The Swiss food pyramid

It illustrates a balanced nutrition. More information on the food pyramid.

Test your eating habits

How balanced is your nutrition? This test identifies your eating habits and shows where and how you can improve your nutrition.

Take the test

The test is only available in German and French.

Other online tests

On the website of the Swiss Society for Nutrition SSN, you will find a selection of tests. They address the topics of nutrition, your personal calorie requirements, body mass index or your risk of contracting diabetes.

Dietitian Charlotte Weidmann Schneider

Expertenbox Weidmann Charlotte Weidmann Schneider (BSc Dietitian, Swiss Association of Registered Dietitians [SVDE]) is a nutrition specialist at the Swiss Society for Nutrition SSN. She is an expert in combining delicious nutrition with a balanced diet at work, home or when exercising. Charlotte Weidmann Schneider assisted the editorial team with this article in an advisory and editorial capacity.

www.sge-ssn.ch

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