The new Healthy Eating Plate was created by Harvard Health Publications and nutrition experts at the Harvard School of Public Health as a guide to the healthiest choices in the major food groups. According to Harvard it offers more specific and more accurate recommendations for following a healthy diet than MyPlate, developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Service. Harvard further states that the Healthy Eating Plate is based on the most up-to-date nutrition research, and it is not influenced by the food industry or agriculture policy.
But both the Healthy Eating Plate and MyPlate are based on U.S. food groups and North American food preferences. Can the Healthy Eating Plate be adapted for use in the Caribbean? Should Barbadians (Bajans?) try to follow these guidelines? The answer to both of these questions is a resounding yes!
The Caribbean food groups has been developed by the Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute (CFNI) and is based on foods generally available in the region and also what people in the Caribbean like to eat. There are six food groups:
Legumes (peas and beans)
Foods from Animals
Fats & Oils
The National Nutrition Centre (Ministry of Health) has recently published Food Based Dietary Guidelines for Barbados. These guidelines aim to encourage healthy eating habits and promote active lifestyles to prevent chronic nutrition related diseases. The specific recommendations in the Barbados dietary guidelines incorporate the Caribbean food groups and are based on the same “up-to-date nutrition research” as the Harvard plate model.
So, to create a Healthy Eating Plate – Bajan style all we have to do is select the more nutritious foods available to us and prepare them with less fat, salt and sugar. You can modify all of your favourite recipes to make them healthier and we are fortunate to have a wide selection of herbs and spices readily available so dishes should still have that authentic Caribbean flavour that we love. Healthy eating does not have to be bland, boring and tasteless.
Barbadian Registered Dietitians, Julian Rowe and Karen Griffith, have recently published two books, Lower your blood pressure in 14 days and Every day diabetes guide: Carbs, calories and... cake? Both books feature recipes for Bajan favourite recipes that have been adapted to make them healthier but without losing taste so that the whole family can enjoy them.
Here we show you how these recipes can be used to make your own Healthy Eating Plate – Bajan style!