Healthy eating and diet –

Healthy eating and diet

Australian Dietary Guidelines
Do you know what foods are best to put on your plate? Or how much you should eat and how often?

The Australian Dietary Guidelines provide up-to-date advice about the types and recommended number of serves of the different foods that we need to eat for good nutrition and health. These are shown in the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating.

The Guidelines are developed by the National Health and Medical Research Council, working with independent experts in nutrition. They are based on the best available science about the types and amounts of foods and the dietary patterns that are thought to promote health and wellbeing, and reduce your risk of diet-related conditions and chronic disease.

Eat a variety of foods
Healthy eating means eating a wide variety of foods from each of the 5 major food groups, in the amounts recommended.

Eating a variety of foods from the 5 major food groups provides a range of nutrients to the body, promotes good health and can help reduce the risk of disease – as well as keeping your diet interesting with different flavours and textures.

Many of the foods that often feature regularly in modern diets do not form part of the 5 food groups. These foods, sometimes referred to as ‘junk’ foods, ‘discretionary choices’ or ‘occasional foods’ can be enjoyed sometimes, but should not feature regularly in a healthy diet. Fats and oils are high in kilojoules (energy) but necessary for a healthy diet in small amounts.

No matter where you’re starting, it’s easy to make little changes to bring your eating closer in line with the Australian Dietary Guidelines. Just focus on eating foods from the 5 major food groups and reducing your intake of occasional foods.

5 major food groups
The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating groups the foods that should make up our daily diets into 5 major food groups.

The 5 food groups are:

vegetables and legumes or beans
lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, legumes or beans
grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain or high cereal fibre varieties
milk, yoghurt, cheese or alternatives, mostly reduced fat.

Foods are grouped together because they provide similar amounts of key nutrients. For example, key nutrients of the milk, yoghurt, cheese and alternatives group include calcium and protein, while the fruit group is a good source of vitamins, especially vitamin C.

Eating a varied, well-balanced diet means eating a variety of foods from each of the 5 food groups daily, in the recommended amounts. Because different foods provide different types and amounts of key nutrients, it is important to choose a variety of

foods from within each food group. As a bonus, choosing a variety of foods will help to make your meals interesting, so that you don’t get bored with your diet.

Occasional foods
Some foods do not fit into the 5 food groups because they are not necessary for a healthy diet. These foods are called ‘discretionary choices’ (sometimes referred to as ‘junk foods’) and they should only be eaten occasionally.

They tend to be too high in saturated fat, added sugars, added salt or alcohol, and have low levels of important nutrients like fibre.

These foods and drinks can also be too high in kilojoules (energy). Regularly eating more kilojoules than your body needs will lead to weight gain.

Examples of ‘discretionary choices’ or occasional foods are:

sweet biscuits, cakes, desserts and pastries
processed meats and fatty, salty sausages, savoury pastries and pies, with a high fat or salt content
takeaway foods such as hot chips, hamburgers and pizza
sweetened condensed milk
alcoholic drinks
ice cream and other ice confections
confectionary and chocolate
commercially fried foods
potato chips, crisps and other fatty and/or salty snack foods including some savoury biscuits
cream, butter and spreads which are high in saturated fats
sugar-sweetened soft drinks and cordials, sports and energy drinks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *