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.
Healthy diets contain a variety of foods
In general, we should include a range of nutritious foods and eat:
plenty of breads and cereals (particularly wholegrain), fruit, vegetables and legumes (such as chickpeas, lentils and red kidney beans)
low-salt foods, and use salt sparingly
small amounts of foods that contain added sugars
reduced-fat milk and other dairy products.
It is also important to drink an adequate amount of water.
Physical activity and healthy eating
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.
Keep fat to a minimum
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.
Eat and drink less high-kilojoule foods
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.
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 bone health especially for infants, women and girls.
Iron – carries oxygen around the body and is especially important for women, girls, vegetarians and athletes to reduce the risk of anaemia.
Drink alcohol in moderation
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.
Healthy diets for babies and children
There are guidelines to follow that help encourage a healthy diet for your infant or child, including:
Infants – it is encouraged for babies to be breastfed 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 and avoid food with added sugar, such as lollies, fruit drinks and soft drinks.
Low-fat diets – 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 skip breakfast
Children who skip breakfast generally have poorer nutrition. Their diets contain less:
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 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.
Tips for healthy breakfasts
Some easy-to-prepare, healthy breakfast ideas include:
fresh fruit with wholegrain breakfast cereal and reduced fat milk. Toast with a thin spread of margarine (polyunsaturated or monounsaturated)
toast with cheese and tomato. Hot or cold reduced fat milk
rolled oats made with quick oats. Add sultanas and reduced fat milk. Toast with a thin spread of margarine (polyunsaturated or monounsaturated). Orange juice
baked beans on toast. Orange juice
fruit or plain yoghurt with fruit.
Where to get help
Dietitians Association of Australia Tel. 1800 812 942
If weight losswere just about popping supplements, then we all would have been slim like reeds. All we would have to do then was sit on the couch, watch our favorite TV shows and fill the popcorn bucket with supplement pills instead of popcorn. But the sad part is, weight loss is not that easy. But what about the connection between vitamins and weight loss? Read on to know if vitamins are actually helpful in losing weightand what experts have to say about it.
Do they really help?
Whenever you go to a drugstore and scan through the shelves, what you definitely come across is weight loss touted as a benefit of many products. The benefits range from boosting metabolism to burning fat. But scientists have found little evidence to support claims about vitamins helping you lose weight.
No link has been found between calcium consumption and weight loss. Calcium only changes the way your body absorbs fat from your food. Your body needs calcium to support bone, muscle, blood vessel and nerve health. The only benefit of calcium-rich foods for weight loss is that they are rich in nutrients and low in fats.
We need Vitamin D to keep our bones strong but experts aren’t convinced yet that Vitamin D can help you lose weight. A study, published by American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that postmenopausal overweight women who took Vitamin D supplements lost more weight than women who did not take Vitamin D supplements.
More researches are required to test if Vitamin D supplements can help one lose weight. Until then, you can't really be sure.
A balanced diet which includes cereals, juices, fatty fish, low-fat dairy products also helps you to get the Vitamin D required by your body. Go for a walk early in the morning to get Vitamin D from the sun.
Vitamin B-12 supplement does not improve your metabolism, either you pop a pill or take the expensive injections. There is no evidence till now that Vitamin B-12 can promote weight loss.
Though Vitamin B12 may not shed kilos for you but it helps by changing the way your body absorbs nutrients. It prevents nutrients from getting converted into fat and rather, converts them into energy.
But you definitely need Vitamin B-12 if you are anaemic, a strict vegetarian, heavy drinker or had a bariatric surgery.
Omega 3 fatty acids
According to American Heart Association, omega-3 fatty acids are a great addition to your diet. They protect your heart from damage and diseases.
But there have been no claims till now supporting that omega-3 fatty acids can help one lose weight. Fishes like salmon, trout, sardines and tuna are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids but if you do not eat fish, then you can go for omega-3 pills.
Green tea is as popular as any other thing which promises weight loss. But green tea does not have any direct impact on your weight. It is rich in antioxidants, which protect your heart health and prevent free radical damage. According to a research by Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, the potential of green tea when it comes to weight loss is not really as significant as it seems!