How To Eat Well
Healthy eating lowers your risk of lifestyle diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and hypertension. But what is healthy eating? Here are some tips:
- Eat nutritious foods from the five daily food groups each day.
- Limit your intake of foods that contain saturated fat, added sugar, added salt and/or alcohol.
- Eat a varied diet.
- Drink plenty of water.
Further detail on these points is provided below.
The five food groups
The five good groups are:
- Grain (cereal) foods – eat mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties. This group includes grain foods such as breads, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles, polenta, couscous, oats, quinoa and barley
- Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, and legumes/beans
- Milk, yoghurt and cheese. Choose reduced fat varieties (but note that reduced fat milks are not suitable for children under the age of 2 years)
How much to eat from each food group
This quick video from Medibank summarises how many serves a day you should eat of each food group, and shows some examples of how much is in a single serve from each food group.
Medibank’s video provides a useful overview, but the Australian Dietary Guidelines actually recommend different amounts of food depending on your age and gender. For details on the serving recommendations for your age and gender, please see: How much to eat from each food group.
Limit Your Intake Of Unhealthy Foods
Limit your intake of foods high in saturated fats
Foods high in saturated fats include many biscuits, cakes, pastries,pies, processed meats, commercial burgers, pizza, fried foods, potato chips, crisps and other savoury snacks. Often these foods contain ingredients that are high in saturated fats such as butter, cream, cooking margarine, coconut oil and palm oil. Instead of foods high in saturated fats, choose foods which contain polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Please keep in mind though that low fat diets are inappropriate for children under 2 years of age.
This video from Dr James Meschino of MeschinoHealth.com explains why saturated fats are best avoided:
Limit salt intake
Many foods contain added salt, so avoiding salt requires you to do more than just take the salt shaker off the table. Be sure to read food labels: compare similar foods and choose a lower sodium option.
Limit sugar intake
Say no to your sweet tooth. Limit your consumption of foods like confectionary, sugar-sweetened soft drinks and cordials, fruit drinks, vitamin waters, energy and sports drinks.
Limit alcohol intake
Please see Alcohol intake: How much is too much? for further information on safe consumption of alcohol. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it is safest not to drink alcohol at all.
Eat a Varied Diet
The Australian Diabetes Council explains why this is important:
- eatforhealth.gov.au – Tips on healthy eating, understanding food labels, healthy recipes and food safety.
- National Heart Foundation – A very handy collection of articles on healthy eating, weight control and assessing your own health.