A healthy diet can help you feel good, keep your weight in check and lower your risk of certain diseases. It doesn’t have to be complicated or hard – simply choose healthier foods and eat them in the right amounts.
Start eating a healthy diet as early as possible in life. Feed babies exclusively with breast milk from birth to 6 months and introduce a range of safe and nutritious complementary foods at that age. This can help them to grow and develop well and may reduce their risk of obesity and other noncommunicable diseases later in life.
Focus on nutrient dense foods, which are high in vitamins, minerals and fibre, but low in calories and fat. These include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes and lean meats. Nutrient-dense foods also have less added sugar and salt than processed food.
Fill half your plate with vegetables and fruit at every meal and snack. Vegetables are packed with antioxidants and other health benefits, while also being low in calories. Vegetables are great for lowering blood pressure, reducing cholesterol and keeping your body strong.
Vegetables and fruit are also good sources of calcium, which can be important for preventing bone fractures. They also contain vitamin A, which promotes eye and skin health.
Ensure you are getting enough fruit and vegetables by consuming them in a variety of ways, including smoothies, juices, cereal, soups and salads. Limit your intake of starchy carbohydrates, such as potatoes and French fries.
Make whole grains a regular part of your diet, such as brown or wild rice, quinoa, oatmeal and hulled barley. Whole grains are a good source of fibre, protein and B vitamins.
Limit your child’s intake of saturated fat, which is found mainly in animal products such as red meat, butter and full-fat dairy products like cheese and ice cream. Saturated fat can cause health problems, such as heart disease and cancer.
Replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats, which are found in vegetable and nut oils. They are high in omega-3 fatty acids and provide essential fatty acids, vitamin E and other nutrients.
Avoid processed or fast foods, such as white bread and pastries, frozen dinners, fried chicken, soda, cookies, chips and sweet desserts. Instead, make healthier choices such as fresh fruit and vegetables, low-fat yogurt, peanut butter on whole-grain crackers and a piece of whole grain toast with butter or honey.
Encourage your children to eat lean meats and poultry, eggs, nuts, seeds and soy products. They can also add beans and peas, fortified soy beverages and dairy alternatives like yoghurt or fortified milk to their meals or snacks.
Get your child to eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. You can easily do this by buying fresh fruit and veg, or by cooking them in a variety of ways, such as roasting, steaming or boiling them.
Banish junk food and processed foods from your home, but don’t go overboard and eliminate them completely. You can let your child have them occasionally as “once-in-a-while” treats to keep them from feeling deprived.