• Dec 2023(updated on Feb 2024)

What is good nutrition? Advice from our experts for eating well

What is good nutrition? Advice from our experts for eating well
  • Your meal choices now play a vital role in both your short-term and your long-term health.
  • Building a balanced plate is about considering food proportions of carbs, proteins, and vegetables, as well as pairings and healthy fats.
  • There are many day-to-day actions you can begin practising to improve your eating habits and make healthier choices.
The food choices you make play an important role in your long-term health. (1) If you’re looking to improve your quality of life in the future, take small steps to improve your eating habits today. For example, if your glucose (commonly referred to as blood sugar) is constantly spiking and crashing — usually thanks to food choices such as eating a lot of refined carbohydrates or sugar — it can lead to health complications down the road.
Research suggests that years of dysregulated glucose, or consistently riding this glucose rollercoaster, can impact heart health as we age. (2) And it’s not just heart health; managing your glucose can also help you maintain a healthy weight, improve your metabolic health, and more. The short-term benefits of keeping your glucose levels steady include helping you manage cravings, achieving better energy, improving mood and sleep. (3)(4)(5)

One of the best ways to manage your glucose and reap the health benefits, both in the short term and in the long run, is to dial in your nutrition (although exercise has profound benefits, too). Luckily, we have several tips below to help you balance your plate, make healthier food choices, and manage your glucose.

How to build a balanced plate

While some nutrition is common sense (you know a bowl of steamed broccoli is healthier for you than a bowl of jellybeans), you also don’t have to overcomplicate building a balanced plate for steady glucose. 

A good formula to follow is the rule of three: Fill ½ of your plate with non-starchy vegetables (e.g. asparagus, Brussels sprouts, peppers), ¼ with complex carbohydrates (e.g. sweet potato, brown rice, quinoa), and the remaining ¼ with high-quality protein (e.g. steak, chicken, fish). Include healthy fat (e.g. avocado, nuts, seeds, or a drizzle of olive oil) across these three sections.

This helps ensure that you’re pairing carbs with protein and high-fibre veggies, which will not only improve satiety but also help slow down the rate that your body absorbs glucose, lessening a spike. (6)

More specifically, we’ve outlined the best choices to make in each of these sections and why they’re good for your glucose and overall metabolic health: 

Non-starchy vegetables: These are vegetables that grow above ground – peppers, broccoli, spinach, green beans, cabbage, cauliflower, courgettes/zucchini, lettuces. They provide vitamins and minerals as well as fibre, which can slow down digestion and reduce glucose spikes. (7)

Moreover, adding diverse sources of fibre to your diet effectively diversifies your gut microbiome — your body’s complex community of microorganisms that call your digestive tract home. (8) Having a healthy gut microbiome may also positively impact glucose control both now and later. (9)

High-quality protein: Chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, beef, tofu, or legumes (like lentils or chickpeas), nuts, and Greek yoghurt are all great choices. Protein is essential to a healthy immune system, muscle health, and keeps you fuller, longer, helping to fend off hunger (6) throughout the day and in those evening hours when you’re tempted to reach for a bedtime snack. 

Complex carbohydrates: Whole grain bread, pulses, wild rice, quinoa, potatoes, sweet potatoes, couscous, whole grain pasta, or amaranth are all good options. These complex carbohydrates are digested more slowly than their refined counterparts (sugar, white bread) (10) and provide a steady source of energy. (11)

Include healthy fats: Avocado, a tablespoon of nuts or seeds, or a drizzle of olive oil or rapeseed oil offer not only nutrients, but also extra flavour and satiety. Plus, fats help slow down digestion and steady your glucose. Add these flavourful fats throughout your meal, especially to veggies. High-quality oils and healthy fats help your body absorb vitamins A, E, and K, which are naturally occurring in vegetables. (12)

No naked carbs: Part of building a balanced plate is making sure you don’t eat carbs by themselves, what we call “naked carbs.” When eating your carbs, make sure you eat them alongside or after a source of high-quality protein to help prevent a spike. (13) Pairing carbs with protein, fat, and fibre helps keep your glucose steady. For example, a piece of toast by itself can lead to a glucose spike, but topping with avocado and eggs can help balance the carbs and keep you steady.

More tips from our experts for eating well

It’s important to eat foods you genuinely enjoy and not deprive yourself. Not allowing yourself to eat your favourite comfort foods in moderation often leads to a binge later on. Plus, if you restrict your food choices and calories too much, this can actually backfire and create further health complications such as nutrient deficiencies, low energy, fatigue, muscle depletion, and slowing down your metabolism. (14)

We have outlined several tangible tips for eating well that you can implement today. While it may take a bit to establish a habit, practising the tips below will set you up for success when it comes to eating healthfully and making better choices.

  1. Eat slowly. Pay attention to the speed you’re eating your food. The more time you take to chew and enjoy your food, the better you’ll signal to your body when you’re satisfied. People who eat more slowly consume less than those eating more quickly. (15)

  2. The order in which you eat your food matters. When you sit down to eat your meal, focus on eating your veggies first, then protein. Finish with your serving of carbs.​ The fibre in vegetables, as well as proteins and fats slow the rate that food leaves the stomach, thereby impacting the rate at which glucose is absorbed and mitigating glucose spikes. (13)

  3. Stay hydrated. Staying hydrated is essential to support a health metabolism. The recommended daily water for adults is 2.7 litres for women and 3.7 litres for men. (16)

  4. Plan ahead. Meal prep, batch cook, and plan your menu for the week to stay on track. Make sure you have shelf-stable, high-protein and high-fibre snacks within reach for when hunger strikes (nuts, jerky sticks, and dried edamame are all good options). Having healthy snacks throughout the day will also help stabilise your glucose and hunger so you don’t overeat. If you’re craving a sweet treat, enjoy it after or alongside a serving of protein; eat that dark chocolate square with some roasted almonds.

  5. Eat mindfully. You tend to eat more when your attention is on something else, like the television, your phone, or work. This is particularly true when what you’re eating is highly processed and high in sugar. (17) When you sit down to eat, put all distractions away and focus on your plate. Pay attention to how your food tastes, the texture, and really enjoy your meal. 

  6. Limit ultraprocessed foods and simple carbs. Ultraprocessed foods, such as breakfast cereal, instant noodles, pretzels, crisps, and packaged biscuits are designed to be highly palatable with minimal nutrients. This means they are often eaten in excess, don’t provide the same satiety and nutrients as whole foods, and can lead to weight gain and glucose spikes. (17) While ultraprocessed foods can be convenient in a pinch, focus on eating whole foods (fruits, vegetables, high-quality protein, whole grains) as often as possible. More specifically, sugar and simple carbohydrates (such as white bread, pasta, candy, and baked goods) can spike your glucose, leading to a likely crash and leaving you tired and sluggish. Work to limit your simple carb intake and opt for fibrous and complex carbohydrates (like whole grains, wild rice, fruits, and vegetables) instead.

  7. Skip the see-food diet. Store most of your food out of sight, especially your favourite comfort and snack foods. Keep countertops clear (save for a small fruit bowl) and put healthy foods and snacks in the front of your refrigerator. Clear containers of chopped raw veggies to snack on (like carrot or celery sticks) and high-protein options should be within eyesight, while high-carb comfort food should be stored in the back.

  8. Know your body. Gaining insight into how your body responds to certain foods and the impact it has on your glucose can inspire changes. With a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) like Lingo’s biosensor, you’ll learn how to reduce glucose spikes after meals by making sensible nutrition choices that will support metabolic health and promote a healthy weight.

A final note from Lingo

Making healthier food choices doesn’t have to be overwhelming, and you shouldn’t restrict your favourite foods. Instead, focus on making small, sustainable changes and pay attention to how you balance your plate at meals. 

By prioritising high-quality protein, loading up on fibrous veggies, adding in healthy fats, not eating naked carbs, and limiting ultraprocessed sugar-laden foods, you’ll be well on your way to eating for better overall health and well-being. With a CGM like Lingo, you’ll gain personalised insights into how your glucose levels are impacted by the food you eat, and work to make healthier choices for you and your long-term well-being. 


  1. Cena H, Calder PC. Defining a Healthy Diet: Evidence for The Role of Contemporary Dietary Patterns in Health and Disease. Nutrients. 2020 Jan 27;12(2):334. doi: 10.3390/nu12020334. PMID: 32012681; PMCID: PMC7071223.
  2. Ormazabal V, Nair S, Elfeky O, Aguayo C, Salomon C, Zuñiga FA. Association between insulin resistance and the development of cardiovascular disease. Cardiovasc Diabetol. 2018 Aug 31;17(1):122. doi: 10.1186/s12933-018-0762-4. PMID: 30170598; PMCID: PMC6119242.
  3. Juanola-Falgarona M, et al. Effect of the glycemic index of the diet on weight loss, modulation of satiety, inflammation, and other metabolic risk factors: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014 Jul;100(1):27-35. 
  4. Breymeyer KL, et al. Subjective mood and energy levels of healthy weight and overweight/obese healthy adults on high-and low-glycemic load experimental diets. Appetite. 2016 Dec 1;107:253-259.   
  5. Jarvis PRE, Cardin JL, Nisevich-Bede PM, McCarter JP. Continuous glucose monitoring in a healthy population: understanding the post-prandial glycemic response in individuals without diabetes mellitus. Metabolism. 2023;146:155640. Epub 2023/06/26. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2023.155640. PubMed PMID: 37356796. 
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  8. Menni C, Jackson MA, Pallister T, Steves CJ, Spector TD, Valdes AM. Gut microbiome diversity and high-fibre intake are related to lower long-term weight gain. Int J Obes (Lond). 2017 Jul;41(7):1099-1105. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2017.66. Epub 2017 Mar 13. PMID: 28286339; PMCID: PMC5500185.
  9. Howard EJ, Lam TKT, Duca FA. The Gut Microbiome: Connecting Diet, Glucose Homeostasis, and Disease. Annu Rev Med. 2022 Jan 27;73:469-481. doi: 10.1146/annurev-med-042220-012821. Epub 2021 Oct 22. PMID: 34678047.
  10. Crapo PA, Reaven G, Olefsky J. Postprandial plasma-glucose and -insulin responses to different complex carbohydrates. Diabetes. 1977 Dec;26(12):1178-83. doi: 10.2337/diab.26.12.1178. PMID: 590639. 
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  12. Brown MJ, et al. Carotenoid bioavailability is higher from salads ingested with full-fat than with fat-reduced salad dressings as measured with electrochemical detection. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Aug;80(2):396-403.
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