Healthy Eating tips
Making healthy food choices doesn’t have to be complicated and stressful. It doesn't mean having to avoid certain foods all the time or that food is either "good" or "bad". It's about developing healthy eating habits that are easy for you to follow everyday. Start small and try one new healthy 'habit' each week. Below are some practical tips on how to create & stick to a tasty, varied & nutritious diet that is good for your mind & body!
Eating a variety of foods each day is important for health & wellbeing. If you eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein & dairy foods more often you will feel better in the long term. The different colours in fruits & vegetables contain their own disease fighting chemicals called phytochemicals. Eating a variety of coloured fruits & vegetables is a good way to make sure you are getting a variety of nutrients. Try to eat one from each colour group into your day!
The food rainbow includes these five colours.
- Red (tomato, red cabbage, apples. strawberries)
- Purple/blue(beetroot, eggplant, blueberries, plums)
- Orange/yellow (carrot, corn, oranges, banana)
- Green (spinach, beans, pears, apples)
- White/brown (mushrooms, potato, white peach, brown pears)
A full list can be found here.
Watch this video with tips on how you can easily include these colourful veggies in your day
Five food groups
The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating recommends that we enjoy a variety of nutritious foods form each of the five Food Groups. It's not necessary to eat from each food group at every meal. In fact, in some instances it is recommended that you only need to eat some of the foods in each food group a few times a week. The Five Food Groups consist of:
- Vegetables and legumes/beans
- Grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties
- Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds
- Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives, mostly reduce fat
Understanding Food Labels
Reading food labels can help you make healthy choices when shopping for food. So what is a food label? Food labels or Nutrition Facts tell you the nutrient content of a food item. So basically - it tells you what is in that food item. You can usually find these labels on the back or on the side of packages, bottles & cans.
1 - start with the serving information at the top pf the label
This will tell you the size of a single serve and the total number of servings per package.
2 - Look at saturated fats & compare items.
When comparing try to choose food items that are less than 3g saturated fat per 100g. The Heart Foundation recommends eating less saturated fats as these can increase the risk or heart disease & cause high cholesterol.
3 - Look for products with less than 15g per 100 grams of sugar
When comparing try to choose food items that are less than 15 grams
4 - Select products with more than 3 g of fibre per serve
Eating high fibre foods keeps the digestive system healthy.
5 - Aim for products with less than 200mg per 100g sodium
Many foods naturally contain small amounts of sodium and you might not be aware how much sodium there is in the packaged foods you buy. High sodium amounts can cause high blood pressure.
6 -Are the first 3 ingredients high in saturated fat, sugar or salt?
Ingredients are listed by quantity - highest to lowest. This means the first ingredient is what the manufacturer used the most of. The first 3 ingredients make up the largest part of what you are eating.
7 - Are you allergic to any of the allergens listed?
If you have any food intolerances it's always important to check what potential allergens that food might contain.
Live lighter has created this simple guide on the healthiness of packaged foods. You can download a free label reading wallet card here.
- Find the ‘per 100g’ column on the nutrition information panel and compare this against our guide.
- If the 100g value for saturated fat, total fat, sugar and salt falls in the green column, it’s a better option than a product that falls in the orange or red column.
- Fibre is something we want more of so look for products with more than 3g per serve.
Many food items will have different nutrients fall into different colour categories. As a rough guide, aim to have at least two nutrients in the green column and no nutrients in the red column.
If this is information feels too complicated for you don't panic! It's just a guide. Just try to include a variety of whole foods (foods without labels) like fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, eggs, fish, meats, dairy foods and wholegrains.
Where do I start?
So you've read a few tips on healthy eating habits but not sure where to start? Don't worry - we have you covered!
Healthy eating assessment
Complete this short healthy eating assessment by the people from No Money No Time - a team of expert nutritionists from The University of Newcastle. Their mission is to get young Australians eating better, without the need for more money or more time.
Once you complete the questions you are provided with personalised recommendations on tweaks you can make towards you eating habits to include more nutritious foods.
Average recommend number of serves calculator
Not sure if you are eating enough from the recommended Five Food Groups? Try this calculator to work out how many servings of each food group you should be aiming for each day.
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