Dietary Advice

What is a healthy diet?

A Mediterranean style diet is rich in plant-based foods (but not exclusively plant-based) and this promotes a healthy GM.

People with digestive complaints may need to look at the amount of certain plant-based foods that they are eating to help minimise their gut symptoms. So, for these people we advocate a modified Mediterranean style diet, where particular foods are eaten in smaller amounts, but not excluded altogether.

General Principles of a Mediterranean Diet:

  • Variety: You may have heard of the phrase “eat the rainbow” and we would like you to try to do exactly that.  Aiming for lots of colours usually ensures that you eat a good range of vegetables, salads, wholegrain, herbs and fruits. These foods are full of fibre, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals
  • Low in refined and processed foods: This diet is low in in highly refined carbohydrates such as confectionary, sweets, chocolate, cakes, biscuits and breads
  • Healthy Fats: a Mediterranean diet includes good fats (polyunsaturates and monounsaturates) from fish, olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds, and is generally lower in animal fats. These foods are particularly important for mood, skin, heart health, gut health, weight control, joint and bone health, reduced risk of certain cancers and Type 2 diabetes
  • A word of caution about legumes: e.g. lentils, chickpeas and beans. These are rich in nutrients and fibre but they can be problematic for people with IBS because they are highly fermentable
Food and drink backgrounds: high angle view of a wooden table filled with a large variety of food. The composition includes fruits, vegetables, cooking oil, cereal,  dairy products, legumes, spices, herbs, pasta, bread, nuts, cheese, eggs, milk, preserves, chocolate, roasted coffee beans among others. High resolution 42Mp studio digital capture taken with SONY A7rII and Zeiss Batis 40mm F2.0 CF lens

What should you aim to eat each day?  

Vegetables and fruit  

  • 5-7 servings of vegetables, salads and fruits 
  • Include a variety of colours to increase diversity of micronutrients


Wholegrains

  • 3-5 servings of e.g. cereals, breads, potato, pasta, and rice

Portion size = approx. two cereal biscuits or ½ cup unsweetened muesli or 1/3 cup raw porridge oats, one cup of cooked rice, pasta or noodles, two slices of wholemeal bread or two medium potatoes 


Healthy Fats

Choose From:

  • Monounsaturated fats – olive, rapeseed, sesame, almond oils, avocado and spreads rich in these fats
  • Polyunsaturated fats – include corn, sunflower, safflower and linseed oil and spreads rich in these fats

Limit saturated fat intake from animal fats and from tropical oils such as coconut and palm oils. Beware of trans fats found in processed foods such as hard margarines, biscuits, fatty meats, deep fried foods, pies and pastries. 

Healthy food clean eating selection: fruit, vegetable, seeds, superfood, cereal, leaf vegetable on gray concrete background

Dairy

  • 3 servings of dairy produce e.g. milk, yogurt, cheese
  • Or dairy alternatives such as plant-based milks, almond/coconut/soya yogurts and vegan cheeses

Portion size = one cup of milk, one yogurt or one (matchbox size) piece of cheese.  Each portion provides approx. 200mg calcium.

Portion size = for dairy alternatives varies according to their calcium content and fortification. It is important to choose calcium-enriched sources if you do not eat dairy products.

Protein                      

  • 2-3 servings of protein-rich foods e.g. fish (particularly oily), chicken, turkey, eggs and small amounts of red meat
  • Plant-based proteins such as legumes (as tolerated), nut and seeds, pea protein, quorn, spirulina, tempeh, soya and tofu

Portion size = palm of hand for protein, two eggs, ¾ cup of legumes, nuts and seeds (40g) and soya/tofu 100g.

Fluids and Fibre – The Two Fs

It is important to include adequate amounts of plant-based unrefined fibre in your diet but it is equally important to ensure that you’re drinking enough fluids along with the fibre. Eating the right amount of fibre can be a bit of a balancing act.

We recommend drinking 1.5-2 litres of fluid daily and water is best, along with herbal teas. All non-caffeinated fluids can contribute to your fluid intake for the day but alcohol does not count toward your daily fluid intake.

Tip: check your urine throughout the day, if it’s clear (except first thing in the morning), then this suggests you’re well hydrated.