How to Eat a Healthy Diet

A healthy diet is one that contains foods from all of the major food groups and is low in added sugars, sodium (salt), saturated fats and trans fats. It includes a wide variety of vegetables and fruits (2 to 3 servings daily) that are rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber. It also contains a variety of whole grains, such as wheat, rice, oats and barley, as well as beans and lentils, soy products, nuts and seeds. It is important to include a source of protein in your diet, especially lean meat and poultry without skin, eggs, fish (particularly oily fish), legumes and soy products. It should also contain low-fat dairy and, if you are unable to digest lactose (the sugar in milk), alternative sources of calcium, such as fortified soy drinks and yogurt.

It is recommended that at least 20% of your calories come from healthy fats, which include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, such as those found in olive and canola oils, avocados, nuts and seeds. It is also recommended to limit or avoid saturated fats, which are found in butter, lard and hard margarines, as well as processed meats (such as wieners and luncheon meats), as they increase your risk for heart disease.

Carbohydrates should make up about 50% of your total calorie intake, with most coming from whole grains, starchy vegetables and fruit. It is also important to include a source of fibre in your diet, which will help keep your digestive system healthy.

Try to avoid eating too many carbohydrates that are high in sugar, as they can have a negative impact on your teeth. Instead, try to eat foods that are higher in soluble fibre.

A good way to ensure you get the right balance of nutrients is to cook your own meals at home as much as possible. It will help to save you money, as you will be able to control the ingredients and quantities that are used. It will also help to reduce your environmental footprint, as you will be consuming less energy and resources in producing your own meals.

Try to avoid eating out or getting takeaway meals as often as possible, as they tend to be high in saturated fats, added salt, added sugars and kilojoules. If you do eat out, choose salads or vegetable-based dishes, such as soups, wraps and souvlakis, and be aware of the high salt and kilojoule contents in sauces and toppings. Make sure you drink water to quench your thirst, rather than sugary soft drinks and juices, which can contribute to tooth decay and obesity.