A healthy diet includes a wide variety of foods that provide the body with essential nutrients. This includes whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, grains and dairy products, lean proteins and healthy fats. Healthy eating patterns can help manage weight, prevent chronic diseases and promote good health.
Foods that are highly processed should be eaten sparingly, as they tend to contain high levels of saturated and trans fats, salt and added sugar. These foods are often referred to as ‘junk foods’ and should be avoided if possible.
The definition of a healthy diet is continually shifting, reflecting our growing understanding of the roles that different foods and nutrients play in health and disease. Today’s best scientific advice is to eat a balanced diet that provides you with the nutrients your body needs and limit the intake of foods that are high in saturated fat, trans fat, salt, added sugars and sodium.
It is also important to be physically active on most days of the week, and to learn stress management techniques. These will help to improve your mood and sleep, which in turn will contribute to a healthy weight and a healthy lifestyle.
Vegetables and Fruit
Eating 5 portions of fruit and vegetables per day is recommended as part of a healthy diet. Try to vary the types of vegetables you eat and introduce new ones if you are not already eating a wide range. A portion is 80g of fresh, canned or frozen fruit and vegetables, or 150ml of juice, smoothie or vegetable or fruit-based drink.
Eat a wide variety of vegetables, especially dark green, red and orange varieties (3 or more servings a day). Make sure at least half your plate is filled with these at each meal.
Choose whole grain breads, crackers, pasta and rice rather than refined (white) versions. These are healthier and contain more fibre.
Include a range of low-fat sources of protein such as fish, lean meats, eggs, beans, nuts and seeds, tofu, fortified soy beverages and lower fat milk. These will give you the building blocks to keep your muscles strong.
Avoid foods containing added sugars as these contribute to tooth decay and increase your risk of obesity. It is recommended to reduce the amount of added sugar you eat to no more than 10 teaspoons a day.
Drink only a small amount of low-fat or reduced fat milk, yogurt, cheese and sour cream. Try to avoid full fat dairy as it is higher in saturated fats.
A healthy diet can be expensive, but there are many cost-effective ways to cut down on your spending. Eat fewer processed foods, cook at home more often, and shop at supermarkets that offer great deals on healthy foods. It is also a good idea to plan your meals and snacks ahead of time. This will save you money, help to reduce waste and can also be a great way to get the kids involved.