Tips For a Healthy Diet

A healthy diet gives you more energy, helps you to maintain a healthy weight and reduces your risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer. It’s important to eat a variety of foods from each food group every day, and to avoid too much salt and sugar.

Most of us aren’t getting enough fruit and vegetables, especially teenagers. Having at least five portions of fruits and vegetables each day can help protect your heart and is easy to achieve. This can be done by eating fresh, frozen or canned fruits and vegetables, as well as adding fruit to cereal and smoothies.

The food you eat should be low in fat and sodium (salt). Try to make home-cooked meals rather than eating out, as this is easier to control the amount of salt in your meal. When cooking at home, use herbs and spices to add flavor instead of salt. If you are buying packaged foods, look for the lowest sodium options.

It’s best to choose whole foods — those that are unprocessed and have not been refined, such as brown rice, oats, barley, quinoa and whole grain breads. Try to limit processed foods, like sausages and hot dogs, instant oats and margarine-based pastries.

Getting more protein and healthy fats into your diet is also important. Lean protein includes chicken, fish, eggs, soy products and lentils. Fatty fish, such as salmon, is a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to a lower risk of heart disease. Try to include oily fish in your diet two or three times a week.

It is important to drink water, milk or unsweetened fruit juice to stay hydrated. Avoid flavored waters and soft drinks, which often contain added sugars. If you want to add flavor, try adding lemon, lime, mint or cucumber.

Teach your kids about healthy eating, but don’t force them to eat anything they don’t like. It can take 10 or more attempts before kids will eat new foods, so be patient and keep trying different foods. Avoid using food as a reward or bribe and encourage your child to be active each day.

It is recommended that children eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day — that’s about four cups a day for pre-schoolers, six to eight cups for school-age kids and nine to 12 cups for teens. This helps them get the vitamins and minerals they need to be healthy. Vegetables are a good source of fibre and are high in nutrients such as potassium, iron, vitamin C and folic acid. Try to include a wide variety of vegetables each day, such as: tomatoes, peppers, carrots, squash, beetroot and kale.