A healthy diet consists of foods and drinks that provide the nutrients your body needs to function properly. The goal is to include a variety of foods from the five food groups, such as fruits and vegetables, starches (potatoes, rice and pasta), dairy and protein foods, and fats. Eating a balanced diet can help reduce your risk of obesity and chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes.
A good way to increase your nutritional knowledge is to read labels on packaged foods. You will find that most packaged foods contain a lot of added sugar, salt and saturated fat, which can affect your health. Try to limit these foods by eating fewer processed packaged foods, such as ready meals and snack items. Choose fresh, unprocessed foods instead.
Water is the best drink choice to quench your thirst, but avoid sugary drinks like soda and fruit juice, which provide calories without essential nutrients. Aim for a glass of water per hour and add some flavor to your water with lemon slices, cucumber slices or mint leaves.
You can get most of the nutrients you need in a healthy diet from whole simple foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, eggs and low-fat dairy products. Try to make most of your carbohydrates from whole grains, such as brown rice, quinoa, barley and whole wheat bread. Include a range of vegetables, such as carrots, sweet potatoes and spinach. Try to include a variety of colours to ensure you get the full range of vitamins and minerals.
Include a range of healthy proteins, such as fish (at least twice a week) and poultry, lean meats, beans and nuts. You can also include some low-fat sources of protein, such as skim milk and yogurt, edamame and hummus, or fortified soy products.
Add healthy fats to your diet, such as olive oil, canola oil and unsalted butter or spreads, in small amounts. These are important for your health and help protect against heart disease, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
You can reduce your intake of sodium by choosing foods and beverages that are low in sodium, such as unsalted butter, salad dressing made with low-fat or non-fat dressings and roasted nuts and seeds. You can also use herbs and spices to add flavour to your food, rather than adding salt.