A healthy diet is one that is low in added sugars, salt, saturated and trans fats, and contains a lot of fibre. It also includes plenty of vegetables and fruits, protein foods from fish, meat, and beans and peas, as well as whole grains. Discretionary choices such as cakes, cookies, and candies should be eaten sparingly.
Eating right doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming. It’s all about replacing processed foods with real food, and balancing your plate. Start by taking control of the meals you eat at home, and eating out less. This way you can make more mindful choices while still enjoying the occasional treats that are hard to resist!
The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating groups foods into 5 main food groups, because they all provide the same key nutrients in similar amounts. Choose a mix of foods from all groups each day, and try to consume a minimum of 3 meals per day.
Include a variety of different vegetables, especially dark green, red, and orange vegetables (3 or more servings a day), as well as beans and peas. Fruits should also be included, but limit juice to a small glass each day (as they lack the fibre of whole fruit). Meat, fish, eggs, tofu, soy products, nuts, seeds, and beans and peas are great sources of protein. Choose lean meat and poultry, and limit red meat consumption.
Processed meats like deli meats, bacon, and sausages contain high levels of nitrates which are linked to cancer. Try to eat fish a few times a week, as it is rich in DHA omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B12.
Water is the best drink for quenching thirst, but avoid sugary drinks, such as soft drinks and fruit-flavored beverages.
Kids don’t always want to eat what is good for them, but there are ways to make it more appealing. For example, let them pick the produce at the store to encourage them to try new things. Sneak vegetables into other foods by blending them or adding them to stews and sauces. Cook at home as much as possible so you can control portion sizes and nutrient intake. If you eat out, choose wisely and be aware that restaurants serve larger portions than what is recommended. Use smaller plates and bowls to help with self-control. It’s important to eat slowly and stop when you feel full, because it takes your brain a few minutes to register that you have had enough to eat. This can help prevent overeating and weight gain.