How to Eat a Healthy Diet

A healthy diet provides the energy your body needs, helps maintain or lose weight and reduces your risk for heart disease, diabetes and other health problems. It also promotes good mental health and physical well-being. A healthy diet is low in added sugars, sodium (salt), saturated fats and trans fats. It is high in a variety of nutrients and contains mostly whole foods.Eating a wide range of nutritious foods gives your body the energy it needs to function properly and support growth. It also helps to balance your intake of calories from different food groups. Consuming too many calories from any source can make you gain weight, while eating too few calories may cause you to lose weight.You should aim for 5 or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day, which can include fresh, frozen, canned and dried options. This group of foods is rich in vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin C. It also contains potassium, fibre and folic acid.Lean meats, fish, eggs and beans are important sources of protein in the diet. They are also rich in calcium and vitamin D. When purchasing meat, choose lean cuts and remove skin before cooking. It is also important to select dairy products that are low in fat, such as milk and yoghurt.Starchy foods should be a staple of the diet, but you should choose ones that are lower in fat and sodium. Look for whole grain varieties. They contain more nutrient-dense fibre than refined white flour breads and pastas.Oily fish, such as salmon, is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and iodine. It is also low in fat, but be sure to watch your portion sizes.Having healthy snacks and meals on hand can help you avoid making unhealthy choices at fast-food restaurants or when snacking in front of the television. Having items such as frozen vegetable mixes, a bag of pre-cooked grilled chicken and a few bags of salad greens can help you feel prepared for quick meals.It is important to remember that limiting or banning foods can backfire and lead to a yo-yo dieting pattern. Instead, focus on making small changes over time, such as choosing a glass of wine over a can of soda or adding an extra serving of vegetables to your dinner. This can help you achieve long-term sustainable lifestyle habits. If you are unsure how to make healthy choices, speak to a registered dietitian for assistance. They can provide you with tailored recommendations specific to your needs. They can also help you manage conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. They can offer education and support for your family as well. For further information, visit the Dietitians of Canada website.