A healthy diet should include a wide variety of nutritious foods for sufficient intake of all nutrients, including vitamins and minerals. Foods to include are breads, pastas, lean meats, fish, fruits and vegetables. A healthy diet can help you maintain a healthy body weight and decrease your risk of many diet-related chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.
In general, we should include a range of nutritious foods and eat:
It is also important to drink an adequate amount of water.
A good balance between exercise and food intake is important, as this helps to maintain muscle strength and a healthy body weight. At least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity, such as walking, is recommended every day.
Adult diets should be low in fat, especially saturated fat. Saturated fat, which is the main fat in animal products, fried foods, chocolate, cakes and biscuits, is more easily deposited as fat tissue than unsaturated fat. Saturated fat can also be converted into cholesterol and cause blood cholesterol levels to rise.
Dietary fat helps with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K). Small amounts of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats may have some health benefits when they are part of a healthy diet. Monounsaturated fats are found in nuts, olive oil and avocados, and may help to lower the bad type of cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein or LDL).
Polyunsaturated fats are generally thought to lower blood cholesterol levels. Polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish, nuts and seeds, are thought to have an anti-clotting effect on blood, to reduce the risk of heart disease and to possibly lower blood pressure.
The total amount of energy-dense (high-kilojoule) foods you eat may be as important as the total amount of fat in your diet. To reduce the energy density of your diet, you need to increase the amount of plant foods, such as wholegrain breads and cereals, fruit and vegetables that you eat.
This will provide essential nutrients, help to make you feel ‘full’ and also reduce the amount of fat in your diet. High energy drinks such as sports drinks, cordials, soft drinks, fruit juice, energy drinks should also be limited.
It is important for all Australians to eat foods which contain iron and calcium. In particular:
Alcohol is high in energy (kilojoules) and should be consumed in moderation. Men should drink less than two standard drinks per day and women less than one standard drink per day. One standard drink is 375 ml mid-strength beer, 100 ml wine or 30 ml spirits. Alcohol should not be given to children and is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
There are guidelines to follow that help encourage a healthy diet for your infant or child, including:
Children who skip breakfast generally have poorer nutrition. Their diets contain less:
Skipping breakfast becomes more common as children get older. Some schools have introduced breakfast programs because they were concerned about children who skip breakfast. Children generally perform better at school when they have breakfast. They are also more likely to maintain a healthy weight when they consume a healthy breakfast.
Adults who eat a healthy breakfast are more likely be a healthy weight and more productive at work.
Some easy-to-prepare, healthy breakfast ideas include: