A healthy diet should include a good variety of nutritious foods.These include breads, pastas, fruits and vegetables. Eating breakfast is also an important part of a healthy diet.
Healthy diets contain a variety of foods
In general, we should all eat:
- A wide variety of nutritious foods
- Plenty of breads and cereals (particularly wholegrain), vegetables, legumes (such as chickpeas) and fruit
- Low salt foods, and use salt sparingly
Small amounts of foods which contain added sugars.
Physical Activity: A good balance between exercise and food intake is important, as this helps to maintain a healthy body weight. About 30 minutes of physical activity, such as walking, is recommended every day.
Keep fat to a minimum: adult diets should be low in fat, especially saturated fat. Saturated fat, which is the predominant fat in animal products, is more easily deposited as fat tissue than unsaturated fats. Saturated fat can also be converted into cholesterol and cause blood cholesterol levels to rise.
Small amounts of polyunsaturated and mono-unsaturated fats may have some health benefits when they are part of a healthy diet. Polyunsaturated fats are generally thought to lower blood cholesterol levels. Polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish, are thought to have an anti-clotting effect on blood and may lower blood pressure.
Eat less high kilojoules foods The total amount of energy-dense (high kilojoules) 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 you eat. This will provide essential nutrients, help to make you feel ‘full’ and also reduce the amount of fat in your diet.
Eat foods rich in calcium and iron: It is important for all Australians to eat foods which contain iron and calcium. In particular:
Calcium – is important for infants, women and girls.
Iron – is important for women, girls, vegetarians and athletes.
Drink alcohol in moderation: a healthy diet can include a moderate amount of alcohol (men should drink less than 2 standard drinks per day and women less than one standard drink per day). Alcohol should not be given to children.
Healthy diets for babies and children: follow these guidelines to help encourage a healthy diet for your infant or child
Babies – encourage your baby to breast feed for the first year of life. In most cases, breastfeeding should be the only source of food in the first six months. If you use formula, be careful not to overfeed or underfeed your baby.
Sugar – children should eat only a small amount of foods that contain sugar.
Low fat diets – these are not appropriate for infants and young children under two years of age. A diet low in fat, especially saturated fat, may be considered for older children.
Drinks – infants and children should be encouraged to choose water as their preferred drink.
Don’t let children skip breakfast: children who skip breakfast generally have below average nutrition. Their diets contain less:
- Dietary fiber
- Vitamins such as riboflavin and niacin.
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 did better in school once the program was introduced.
Tips for easy breakfasts: Here are some easy-to-prepare, healthy breakfast ideas:
- Fresh fruit with wholegrain breakfast cereal and reduced fat milk. Toast with a thin spread of margarine (polyunsaturated or mono-unsaturated).
- Toast with cheese and tomato. Hot or cold reduced fat milk.
- Rolled oats with sultanas and reduced fat milk.
- Baked beans on toast.
- Orange juice.
Where to get help
- Your doctor
- An accredited practising dietitan (APD) Sonja at 6 Degrees South
- Nutrition Australia www.nutritionaustralia.org
Things to remember
- Calcium and iron are important nutrients in our diets.
- Infants and young children should not be placed on low fat diets.
- Encourage infants and children to choose water as their preferred drink.
- Children will have better nutrition and do better at school if they eat breakfast.