Eating a healthy diet provides the nutrients you need to stay healthy. It also helps prevent diseases and promotes good mental health. Healthy eating includes foods from all major food groups in the right amounts, and is low in added sugars, salt, saturated fats and trans fats. It includes a wide variety of foods that provide different tastes and textures, and is rich in fruits, vegetables, lean meats, seafood, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
The best way to make changes in your diet is to do it slowly. Try not to change everything all at once because this can lead to slipping up or giving up. Instead, start by adding one new healthy item to your meal each week.
If you are trying to lose weight, eat smaller portions. This will help you feel full and can help control calories. When dining out, ask for a small plate or bowl to help you gauge portion sizes. Or split a dish with a friend when possible. At home, use visual cues to guide your serving size – for example a cup of fruit should be about the size of a tennis ball and a serving of pasta or rice should be about half the size of a traditional light bulb.
Eat a range of colourful fruits and vegetables (2 or more servings each day). Include dark green, red and orange veggies, as well as cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussel sprouts) and other veggies that are high in fibre such as mushrooms and onions. Also eat some beans and other legumes, as well as whole grains (pasta, barley, oats) and some soy products. Limit intake of high-fat foods, including fatty meats and poultry, full-fat cheese, cream, and butter. Choose low-fat sources of protein such as eggs, fish, skinless poultry and beans, soy products, and unrefined unsalted nuts and seeds.
Limit dietary sodium (salt) and processed sugars to less than 1500 mg per day, if you are trying to lower blood pressure or manage diabetes. Instead, season foods with herbs and spices to add flavour without added sugars.
A healthy eating pattern can reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity and some cancers, as well as promoting mental health. It can also help control blood sugar levels in people with diabetes and improve bone health.
Eating well can help to manage and prevent mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. It can also support recovery from mental illness, and reduce the risk of suicide in people who are at risk of taking their lives.