A healthy diet includes a variety of foods and drinks that provide the nutrients you need to stay healthy. It is low in saturated fats, added sugars and salt and contains plenty of vegetables and whole grains. It also includes moderate amounts of lean meat, fish and poultry, as well as beans and nuts. If you enjoy alcohol, do so in moderation – up to two drinks per day for men and up to one drink per day for women.
The first step in a healthy eating plan is to keep your kitchen stocked with nutritious foods. Having meals and snacks on hand will prevent you from turning to fast food or overindulging in unhealthy treats. Having ready-to-eat foods like frozen vegetables, a container of canned or dried fruit, reduced-fat cheese and whole grain bread will make it easy to put together healthy meals in a pinch.
Eating a range of fruits and vegetables will help you get your recommended 5 A Day portions. These can be fresh, frozen, canned (with no added sugar) or dried. A portion is 80g, which is about the size of a large egg or a tennis ball. It is important to include a range of colors as different fruits and vegetables have different nutrients.
Getting more protein is an essential part of any healthy diet and it can be difficult to do without adding meat and fish. However, it is important to limit the amount of high-fat meat and poultry you eat, as well as full-fat dairy products, as these are linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers.
Try replacing some of the meat and full-fat dairy you eat with seafood, eggs and soy products. Alternatively, look for ways to reduce the fat in your cooking by switching to vegetable, olive or canola oil and choosing salad dressings and spreads that are made with oils rather than solid fats.
It is important to eat a range of different vegetables and fruits each day, including dark-green, red and orange vegetables, as well as beans and peas. It is also important to eat at least half of your grains as whole grains. Drink fat-free or low-fat milk and yoghurt and choose reduced-fat hard cheeses.
Try to avoid highly processed and junk foods, which are often high in calories, added sugars and salt. It is also important to eat whole foods, such as vegetables, fruits, fish, lean meats, and unsalted nuts and seeds.