Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is one of the most important things you can do to protect your health. A healthy diet can provide your body with the nutrients it required and helps to lower the risk of diseases.
The Ministry of Health has published the Malaysian Food Pyramid and the Malaysian Healthy Plate for Malaysians to use these simple guidelines to eat right and get healthy meals daily.
Malaysian Food Pyramid
The Malaysian Food Pyramid is a visual tool and simple guideline for individuals to vary their food intake according to the total daily food serving recommended in order to maintain a healthy diet.
A food pyramid consists of 4 levels that represent 5 food groups.
Food Pyramid (From bottom to top):
Fruits and Vegetables
- Include more colours and variety by choosing different vegetables and fruits for each meal
- Aim for at least 3 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruits per day
Rice, other cereals, whole grain cereal-based products, tubers
- Consume more whole grain daily, e.g. brown rice, wholemeal bread & noodles (about 3 - 5 servings per day)
- Foods in this level are rich in carbohydrates
- The carbohydrates are needed by your body to produce energy.
- Drink 6 to 8 glasses of plain water (250ml per glass)
Fish, poultry, meat and legumes & Dairy Products
- ½ – 2 servings of poultry, meat and egg per day
- 1 serving of fish per day
- ½ – 1 serving of legumes per day
- 1 – 3 servings of milk and dairy product.
- This level contains foods that are rich in proteins, fats, zinc, vitamin B and Iron.
Fat, oil, sugar and salt
- Reduce sugar, salt and oil intake
- Consume limited amounts of the foods that high in sugar, salt and oil.
- Excessive intake of fats, oil, sugar and salt can contribute to higher risk of chronic diseases
3 BASIC TIPS when planning meals using the food pyramid!
Balance: Eat all food groups to get variety of nutrients
Moderation: Follow the serving size to avoid excessive consumption
Variety: Include different foods within the same group as they have similar nutrients
Malaysian Healthy Plate
The Malaysian Healthy Plate (MHP) guide, which emphasises the Suku Suku Separuh or Quarter Quarter Half (QQH) concept, is a quick visual tool that helps you determine whether a meal is healthy and balanced, or not.
QQH is a one-day meal intake guide. All you have to do is “divide” your plate as follows:
- ¼ plate for grains or grain products, preferably whole grains such as brown rice or wholemeal bread
- Another ¼ plate for protein such as fish, poultry, meat, egg or legumes
- Remaining ½ plate for fruits and vegetables - include various types of vegetables and colourful fruits such as any leafy vegetables, tomatoes, or cucumber.
Use the right plate size
Simply adhering to the QQH concept alone is not sufficient. Your plate size does matter too! The size of the plate might affect how much you assume you are eating compared to how much you are actually eating.
Avoid using an adult-sized plate to serve food for children since it's easy to misjudge the amount of food they'll eat.
Not sure what is the right plate size? Here's a quick reference for you!
- For adults, the diameter of the plate should be about 23cm (9 inches).
- For children, the diameter of the plate should be about 18 cm (7 inches).
Choose the healthier cooking methods
Cooking methods may have a big impact on how healthy a dish is. For instance, deep-fried food has a higher oil content which is undesirable. Choose meals that have been cooked using healthier methods including:
The Bottom Line
Eating a healthy diet is crucial in maintaining and protecting your health. Making a few small changes to your diet might help you get started on the path to a healthier lifestyle.
Healthy eating doesn’t have to be complicated, let's start your healthy eating journey today by following these simple guides!
1. Mywinet. (2022) For a healthy meal, just divide your plate. [https://mywinet.com/for-a-healthy-meal-just-divide-your-plate/]
2. Dr Roseline Yap. (2020) Quarter Quarter Half: A Guide to Healthy, Balanced Meals. [https://mypositiveparenting.org/2020/06/30/quarter-quarter-half-a-guide-to-healthy-balanced-meals/]
3. Nutrition Month Malaysia. (2017) Eat Smart + Move More = Recipe for Healthy Families. [https://www.nutritionmonthmalaysia.org.my/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/nmm2017_infographic_book.pdf]
4. Hazique Zairill. (2022) A Guide For Your Plate: Malaysian Ideal Pyramid Food. [https://tehtalk.com/a-guide-for-your-plate-malaysian-ideal-pyramid-food/]
5. Nutrition Month Malaysia. (2021) HE-AL Vol 3: Nutrition – The key to combating health threats. [https://www.nutritionmonthmalaysia.org.my/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/NMM-2021-HE-AL-Vol-3_Eng_web.pdf]