A healthy diet is based on food that provides the nutrients your body needs to function properly. It should be low in saturated fats, added sugars, and salt (sodium) and high in fibre. It should also be moderate in alcohol.
A good diet can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer. It can also increase your energy level and help your body heal after exercise. A healthy diet can also help you manage your symptoms of mental health problems like depression and anxiety.
Eating a healthy diet means choosing foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals (compounds that give plants their colour) and are low in sodium, added sugars, and saturated and trans fats. You should eat lots of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean meats and poultry, eggs, beans and nuts, and seeds. Try to eat at least five servings of vegetables and four servings of fruit per day.
Choose vegetables and fruits in a variety of colours. It is also helpful to have a mix of textures in your vegetable selections: crunchy, soft, and crisp. Choose fresh, frozen, and canned fruits and vegetables; look for options that are low in sodium or those that have been boiled, steamed, or lightly cooked.
Whole grains are more nutritious than refined grain products such as white bread, pasta, and pizza crust. They contain more fiber, B vitamins, and iron and are a good source of magnesium, zinc, and selenium. They have a slower impact on blood sugar and insulin than refined grain foods.
Replace some of the fat in your cooking with vegetable oils such as olive and canola oil. Limit butter, lard, and shortening to minimize saturated fat intake.
Avoid processed meats, such as hot dogs and luncheon meats, which are often high in fat, sodium (salt), and nitrates (food preservatives). Try to eat more fish, beans, soy products, unsalted nuts and seeds, and nut butters.
Limit your intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and choose sodas made with no added sugars or artificial sweeteners. Choose unsweetened iced tea, coffee, and water.
Try to limit added sugars to about two servings a day for children and three for adults. It is important to avoid high-sugar foods like candy, cookies, and pastries.
Encourage kids to eat more vegetables by offering them at regular meal times and keeping them visible on the table. Offer a variety of vegetables that can be prepared in different ways, such as raw carrot sticks and celery with hummus or steamed greens and mashed potatoes.
Teach kids to read nutrition labels and use the serving sizes on food packages. This will allow them to make informed choices when they buy food away from home.