How to Eat a Healthy Diet

A healthy diet is based on foods and beverages that provide the nutrients your body needs to function. It includes a variety of nutrient-rich whole foods, such as vegetables, fruits, grains, lean proteins and dairy, along with healthy fats from sources like olive, canola and vegetable oils, nuts and seeds. It limits foods that contain added sugars and salt, as well as trans fats. It also includes fluids such as water and low-fat milk, but excludes soda, fruit drinks, high-sugar energy drinks and sugary coffee and tea.

Start healthy eating habits early. Breastfeeding promotes healthy growth and may have long-term health benefits, such as reducing the risk of overweight and obesity in later life. Introduce solid food to babies from 6 months, with a variety of safe and nutritious complementary foods.

Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables each day. Try to get at least 5 servings a day. Choose brightly colored vegetables and berries as they are rich in vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre. Avoid overcooking vegetables or adding too much salt, as this can reduce their nutrient content.

Choose whole grains, such as brown rice, barley, quinoa and wheat berries, instead of refined white flour products. Limit bread and pasta to two servings a day, and replace with whole grain options.

Include a variety of protein-rich foods, such as fish, poultry, beans and legumes, soy products and nuts. People who eat adequate amounts of these foods have a lower risk of heart disease, obesity and some cancers.

Limit red meat and processed meats, as they are higher in saturated fat, and increase intake of healthier plant-based protein. Choose unsaturated fats such as those found in nuts and seeds, olive oil and canola oil.

Include healthy fats in your diet, such as those from avocadoes and fatty fish (such as salmon, trout and sardines). These fats are good for the heart and can help lower cholesterol levels.

Drink plenty of fluids, such as water and unsweetened, low-fat milk. Limit juice to one small glass a day and avoid sugary drinks.

Plan ahead for meals and snacks. Keeping healthy foods on hand helps prevent making poor choices when hunger strikes.

Avoid using food as a reward or to soothe emotions. This can teach children to associate food with pleasure and lead them to overeat or eat unhealthy foods later in life.

Incorporate foods they enjoy to help them develop a love of healthy food. Offer new options alongside their tried-and-true favorites to make it easier for them to adopt a healthier diet.