How to Eat a Healthy Diet

Eating a healthy diet means choosing foods that provide your body with the nutrients it needs to function. It also helps prevent disease and maintain a healthy weight.

Eat a wide variety of foods from the five main groups (protein, carbohydrates, fats, fruit and vegetables). Choose mostly whole grains (3 to 6 servings per day) and low-fat dairy (3 to 4 servings a day).

Avoid highly processed, sugary or salty foods, as they can increase your risk for obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Try to get moderate to vigorous physical activity each day, as this helps you lose or maintain your weight and reduces your stress levels.

Drink water, unsweetened iced tea and coffee, or non-caffeinated soft drinks. Limit alcohol to two or three drinks per week.

Choose lean meat, fish, skinless poultry and eggs for protein. If you eat red meat, choose leaner cuts and cook them thoroughly. Try to eat a meatless meal at least once a week.

Oils and fats should make up less than 10% of your total energy intake. Choose unsaturated fats, such as those found in olive, sunflower or sesame oils. Try to avoid saturated fats and trans fats, which can raise cholesterol levels.

A healthy diet includes a moderate amount of fibre, which is important for maintaining good health and reducing the risk of obesity. Fibre is found in plant-based foods such as beans, nuts, seeds, oats and whole grains. It is also in some fruits, particularly berries and some vegetables, such as peas and asparagus.

It is recommended that you get dietary fibre from whole foods as opposed to supplements. However, if you do take a supplement, be sure to check the label for the correct dosage and frequency.

Protein is an essential nutrient that keeps you feeling full and supports muscle growth and maintenance. It is also an important source of iron and zinc. Choose fish, lean meat, eggs and dairy foods as protein sources and be sure to include oily fish at least twice a week.

Vegetables are the most concentrated source of a range of vitamins and minerals. They are also low in calories and can help you eat fewer carbohydrates. Aim to eat at least five servings of a wide variety of vegetables per day, including dark green vegetables, red and orange vegetables and starchy vegetables.

Fruits are an excellent source of fibre, vitamin C and phytochemicals, especially lycopene and carotenoids. Try to eat a minimum of two cups of fruit a day, and aim for more if possible. Choose a wide variety, and try to include some dried fruit and a small number of nutrient-dense nuts or seeds.