Health & lifestyle
We all have favourite foods. Whether it is a lamb roast, a steak on the barbecue or a strawberry cheesecake, food is something we enjoy. In fact, food is often integral to celebrations and social occasions. However, there may be some truth in the old saying “you are what you eat”. Staying healthy means paying attention to what, and how much, you eat.
Healthy eating habits help to provide the energy your body needs for growth and repair, for physical activity and general well-being. When you get this balance right you have enough energy to complete and enjoy daily activities while also maintaining a steady and healthy weight. Healthy eating habits can also help reduce the risk of health problems, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity. Getting the balance right when it comes to your diet should be a priority yet, according to the 2007-08 National Health Survey, 61.4 per cent of the Australian population is either overweight or obese.
Getting the balance right
The total amount of food that you need depends on your age, sex, body size and level of physical activity. A balanced approach to eating includes a variety of nutritious foods, such as breads (particularly wholegrain), legumes, pastas, fruits and vegetables. Having regular meals, limiting salt and sugar intake, choosing healthy snacks and drinking lots of water are also an important part of a healthy diet. Getting this balance right will mean that your body not only gets the energy it needs, but also a range of essential nutrients such as calcium and iron.
What about fat? All adult diets should be low in fat, but small amounts of polyunsaturated and mono-unsaturated fats can have some health benefits when they are part of a healthy diet. One way to keep your fat intake low is to eat more plant-derived foods. These foods will help you to feel “full” with less fat while also providing you with essential nutrients. And while sweet drinks and alcohol can be included in your diet they should only be in moderation to ensure that they don’t have adverse effects on your health.
To see how your diet measures up on the health meter why not try the healthy eating self assessment provided by the Dietitians Association of Australia?
If you have developed unhealthy eating habits and are overweight, there are some simple measures you can take to better manage your weight. These include cutting back on foods and drinks high in fats and sugars, avoiding fried foods, drinking non-fat or reduced fat milk and dairy products, increasing your intake of healthy food and increasing your physical activity.
A healthy eating plan is important for everyone, whether they are overweight or simply want to enjoy the many health benefits that come with a good diet. Your doctor or dietitian can help you to develop a healthy eating plan that suits your personal needs so don’t hesitate to ask for help to get you on track.
In the meantime, for more information about what you should be including in your diet go to Smart Eating for you or log on to the Healthy Weight website for healthy eating tips and information to help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
Healthy eating is a benefit that everyone, in particular children, should enjoy. Once a child is overweight or obese there is a likelihood that weight problems will follow them into adulthood. Being a good role model can help children avoid the many health problems associated with being overweight.
The other part of being healthy is ensuring that you have an active lifestyle. This might include regular walks, golf or swimming. Whatever you enjoy, it is important that for at least 30 minutes a day you do something that develops and maintains your fitness, strength, balance and flexibility. If you have not been very active to date, now is a good time to start. The best way to do this is to slowly build up how much you do over a period of days and weeks. If you are not sure how much exercise you should be doing, then talk to your doctor.
Like many things in life, good health is all about balance. For more tips on being fit and active go to our Being Active page
Want to know more?
To help you find out more about healthy eating and weight we have put together some relevant healthy eating links and resources.
Wed, 3rd April 2013, Physical and mental health
To help you find out more about healthy eating and weight we have put together some relevant links and resources.Read more