What are the health consequences of an unhealthy diet?
What is a healthy diet?
What is a ‘serving’ of fruit and vegetables?
How much fruit and vegetables should children eat?
How do I prepare healthy meals at home?
What healthy take-away food options do I have?
How can I eat healthy food when I go out?
What is saturated fat?
What is unsaturated fat?
What is trans fat?
What are "bad fats" and what are "good fats"?
What are the health consequences of an unhealthy diet?Healthy eating habits throughout life will assist in reducing the risk of preventable diet-related disease later in life, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. Other health consequences of unhealthy eating habits include, but are not limited to, constipation, tooth decay, fatigue, and impaired immune function.
What is a healthy diet?The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating recommends that to eat a healthy diet you should:
1. Eat enough food from each of the five food groups every day.
2. Choose different varieties of foods from within each of the five food groups from day to day, week to week and at different times of the year.
3. Eat plenty of plant foods (bread, cereal, rice, pasta, noodles, vegetables, legumes (link to glossary) and fruit); moderate amounts of animal foods (milk, yoghurt, cheese, meat, fish, poultry, eggs) in the proportions shown by the Guide; and small amounts of the extra foods, and margarines and oils.
4. Drink plenty of water.
Further information about healthy eating is provided in the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating and the Dietary Guidelines for Australians.
Tips for healthy eating:
- Eat more fruit and vegetables (at least two servings of fruit and five servings of vegetables every day).
- Eat regular meals – and don’t forget breakfast. If you skip meals, you’ll be more likely to eat high fat, high sugar food when you’re hungry. Planning meals ahead can help.
- Eat more fibre by including high fibre foods in your diet such as oats, bran, legumes, vegetables and fruit in your meals and snacks.
- Drink plenty of water. Water is the best and cheapest drink. Water provides the fluid we need, without the added kilojoules or caffeine found in many other drinks.
Things to limit:
- Consider your portion sizes.
- Eat less processed food.
- Limit your alcohol intake if you choose to drink. Alcohol is energy dense and can contribute to weight gain.
- Limit your intake of ‘sometimes foods’ like unhealthy snacks and take-away foods.
What is a "serving" of fruit and vegetables?As a general guide one serve of vegetables is equal to 75 grams while one serve of fruit is 150 grams for adults. The amount for children depends on their age. An example of a serve of vegetables: ½ cup cooked vegetables or cooked legumes; 1 medium potato; 1 cup salad vegetables. An example of a serve of fruit: 1 medium (e.g. apple); 2 small pieces (e.g. apricots); 1 cup canned or chopped fruit or 1½ teaspoons of dried fruit.
How much fruit and vegetables should children eat?Children are encouraged to eat a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. Include raw and cooked, and many different colours, as different fruit and vegetables offer different nutrients. The amount of fruit and vegetables recommended depends on age, appetite and activity levels.
|Recommended daily intake of fruit and vegetables for children and adolescents|
|Age of child (years)||Fruit (serves)||Vegetable (serves)|
More information on the nutritional needs of children can be obtained from the National Health and Medical Research Council.
How do I prepare healthy meals at home?Cooking meals at home using healthier cooking methods, such as grilling, stir-frying, light microwaving or steaming are better options than deep-frying or prolonged boiling.
What healthy take-away food options do I have?When ordering take-away foods consider the following healthier options:
- A fresh or toasted sandwich – choose wholemeal/grain bread, ask for no butter or margarine, and limit processed meat such as ham, and salami.
- Hamburgers and steak sandwiches with lots of salad and pineapple – Ask for no mayonnaise, butter, or margarine and choose wholemeal/grain bread.
- Baked potatoes filled with salad - skip the butter and sour cream.
- Souvlaki or doner kebab with extra salad or tabouli rather than loads of meat.
- Thin crust pizza with lean meat, chicken or vegetarian toppings and a light sprinkling of cheese (or none at all).
- Pasta with tomato-based sauces.
- Stir-fry with steamed rice.
- Hot roast meat rolls - lean meat or chicken and add salad.
- Low-fat smoothies or milkshakes.
- Low-fat frozen yoghurt or ice creams for dessert.
How can I eat healthy food when I go out?Most restaurants and cafes now offer low fat, nutritious foods.
- For pasta dishes, choose the tomato based sauce over creamy ones.
- Choose minestrone or vegetable soups over creamed soups.
- Limit curries based on coconut milk, and dishes described as au gratin, creamed, battered or pan fried.
- With Asian style meals look for braised dishes, noodle dishes and stir fried vegetables instead of deep fried dishes.
- You may also like to think about choosing an entrée size meal or sharing a main.
What is saturated fat?Fats that are saturated tend to be more solid at room temperature and can be found in milk, cream, butter, hard cheese, meats, coconut oil, and palm oil. Saturated fat is known to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease by raising the "bad" cholesterol in your blood.
What is unsaturated fat?Fats that are unsaturated tend to be liquid at room temperature, such as those found in vegetable oil. Unsaturated fats consist of monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats.
Unlike saturated fat, a diet high in monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are very important for your health. However, even the "good" fats need to be enjoyed in moderation.
Monounsaturated fatUnlike saturated fat, a diet high in monounsaturated fats, which is found in plant oils, avocados, and nuts, help lower levels of "bad" cholesterol, without lowering the levels of "good" cholesterol in your blood. It is advised that people replace trans fats in their diet with monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fatty acids which help lower blood cholesterol levels. This can be achieved by eating less high fat processed foods and more fresh fruit and vegetables.
Polyunsaturated fatPolyunsaturated fat is very important for your health. There are two types of polyunsaturated fat: omega-6 and omega-3. Omega-6 is found in vegetable oils such as canola and sunflower and is essential for growth, cell structure, and maintaining a healthy immune system. Omega-3 is found in oils from cold water fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines. Another great source of omega-3 is flax seeds (linseed oil). Omega-3 is essential for the body as it plays a role in regulating blood pressure and blood clotting, helps to maintain a healthy immune system, and assists in brain and spinal cord function.
What is trans fat?Trans fat is technically an unsaturated fat, however it acts like saturated fat causing your blood cholesterol levels to rise. They are generally found in processed foods such as cakes, biscuits, pies, and take-away food. Food containing trans fat should be avoided as much as possible. It is advised that people replace trans fats in their diet with polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats which help lower blood cholesterol levels. This can be achieved by eating less high fat processed foods and more fresh fruit and vegetables.
What are "bad" fats and what are "good" fatsSaturated fat and trans fat are the "bad fats" as they are not needed for good health and are known to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease by raising the "bad" cholesterol in your blood.
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are "good fats" as they are very important for your health. Monounsaturated fat helps lower levels of "bad" cholesterol, without lowering the levels of "good" cholesterol in your blood. Monounsaturated fats can be found in plant oils, monounsaturated margarines, avocados, and nuts.
Polyunsaturated fat is essential for growth, cell structure, maintaining a healthy immune system, regulating blood pressure and blood clotting, and assisting in brain and spinal cord function. Polyunsaturated fat can be found in cold water fish (main source of long-chain omega-3) and polyunsaturated margarines and vegetable oils (omega-6).