Eating is a pleasure. We all like to try for different flavors in different foods. If so, considering how you can keep your body weight, blood sugar, and lipid profile under control is very important. This does not mean to avoid all the foods that you love, you can have them in moderation. Sri Lankan diet seems to be missing this highly needed moderation and diet diversity (despite the diverse range of foods).
Diabetes is one of the leading Non-Communicable diseases in Sri Lanka. Why? Well along with spices, a daily Sri Lankan diet seems to include a lot of sugar and really huge amounts of carbohydrates.
There are six major food groups that nourish you with essential nutrients daily. Having a variety of foods provides you a variety of nutrients because each food group has different nutrients needed for your body. The six food groups for an inclusive and healthy Sri Lankan diet are:
- Grains (cereals) and Tubers (yams)
- Fish, Meat, Eggs, and pulses
- Milk and dairy products
- Nuts and oils
Let’s take a look at each of the group of food in details below:
1. Grains (cereals) and Tubers (yams)
Foods in this group provide energy for your daily life. Rice, maize, kurakkan, foods prepared by wheat flour (bakery products), yams like manioc, potato, sweet potato, locally available yams (innala, kiriala, dan-ala, Rajala) and foods like jack fruit, breadfruit are examples for this category. They are rich sources of carbohydrates.
Fruits are rich sources of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and dietary fiber. Not only fruits like mango, banana, pineapple, orange, avocado there are plenty of locally available fruits like guava, tamarind, dan, lawalu, ambilla, bilin, ambarella, star fruit in Sri Lanka. Antioxidants present in fruits help you to protect from diseases and improve the immunity while dietary fiber keeping the digestive system healthy.
Vegetables are also rich sources of vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. They are also beneficial same as fruits. There are a variety of vegetables grown in Sri Lanka. Brinjals, gourds (bitter gourd, ridge gourd, etc.), ash plantain, pumpkin, ladies fingers, moringa pods, root vegetables like carrot, beet and leafy vegetable like moringa leaves, kathurumurunga, sarana, kankun, mugunuwenna, spinach, gotukola are easily found.
4. Fish, Meat, Eggs, and pulses
They are high protein sources that help the growing and maintaining body tissues. They improve immunity and help to protect from diseases. As Sri Lanka is a tropical island there are marine fisheries, inland fisheries, and related products (sprats, cuttlefish, dried fish, prawns, crabs, Maldive fish). The edible portion of 100g of fish has 18-21g of protein needed per day.
Like fish, meat and eggs are rich sources of protein. Chicken, pork, beef, mutton are available in groceries, markets and you can add them to your daily diets.
Unlike mentioned animal protein sources, pulses are plant protein sources. Examples for pulses: Chickpea, green gram, cowpea, soybean, undu, dhal, other beans
5. Milk and dairy products
These are rich sources of calcium and protein. They help the growth and maintenance of your bones and teeth. You can add fresh milk, yogurt, curd, cheese to your daily meals.
6. Nuts and oils
Foods in this group provide you the energy needed for your body functions. Examples are nuts like coconut, peanut, kottang, cashew, pumpkin seeds and oils like coconut oil, palm oil, vegetable oil, gingerly oil, butter, margarine, ghee. These foods need control when adding to your diet.
How much of these food groups do you need per day?
The basic rule is to have more from Grains, Fruits, and Vegetables, a moderate amount from Fish/Meat/Eggs and less amount from Oils. If so, it depends on age, physical status, sex, body size, and health conditions also.
Below shows you a summary of serving sizes and amounts needed per day from each food group.
The recommended number of servings from each food group per day
1 cup = 180 ml (ordinary teacup)
|Food group||Number of servings per day||Serving sizes (one serving is equal to…)|
|Grains (cereals) and Tubers (yams)||6-11||Cooked rice – ½ cup
Bread – 1 ½ slice
Rotti /dosaa – 1 medium size (10cm diameter
String hoppers – 3 (medium size)
|Vegetables||3-5||Cooked vegetables – 3 tbsp (1/2 cup)
Raw salads – 1 cup
|Fruits||2-3||Medium size fruit – 1 banana, 1 orange, 1/8 of ripe papaw
Cut fruits/fruit salads – ½ cup
Dries fruits- 2 tbsp
|Fish, Meat, Eggs, and pulses||3-4||Cooked fish/poultry/ meat – 30g (medium size piece)
Cooked pulses – 3 tbsp/ ½ cup
Sprats – 12
Eggs – 1
Dried fish – 15g
|Milk and dairy products||1-2||Fresh milk – 1 glass (200ml)
Yogurt/curd – 1 cup
Milk powder – 2-3 tsp
|Nuts and oils||2-4||Oils – 1tsp
Scraped coconut – 1/5 from whole
Nuts- 3 tbsp
Everything has a limit; within a limit, you will not get any worry. Foods also same. Having a balanced Sri Lankan diet in the correct amounts will go a long way in your overall health.