A healthy diet helps to protect against many chronic noncommunicable diseases, including heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. The food you eat should provide your body with the nutrients it needs to function well, including carbohydrates (fruit, vegetables and grains), protein and fats. It should be low in salt, sugars and saturated and industrially-produced trans-fats. The foods you choose should also be rich in calcium, iron and zinc and contain vitamin D.
A healthful diet should be a regular part of your life. It should include all the food groups and should be based on your age, gender, height, weight and level of physical activity. It should also be tailored to any health conditions you may have, as some foods are not suitable for some people.
There is no single ‘healthiest’ food, as different people need a variety of foods to get the nutrients they need for good health and wellbeing. No one food provides all the essential vitamins and minerals, so it’s important to eat a variety of healthy foods each day.
The healthy choices you make throughout your life will have a significant impact on how you feel, look and cope with the challenges of daily living. They will influence your long-term health, as well as your current happiness and success in life.
Having a healthy lifestyle is all about making small improvements to your day-to-day habits, that you can keep up for the rest of your life. It’s not about making huge changes all at once, because this can be difficult to maintain. Start by identifying one thing you’d like to improve and focus on making that change for two months. Then, make another improvement and continue this cycle.
The best way to eat healthy is to plan ahead and prepare meals for the week. This will help you to stay on track and resist the temptation of unhealthy foods when you are busy or tired.
Make sure you buy plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables each week and cook with a variety of ingredients. Try to eat lean meats and fish, whole grains and dairy products that are low in saturated fat. Try to avoid sugary fizzy drinks, and opt for water instead. If you’re a regular drinker, reduce your alcohol intake. It’s recommended that women and men limit themselves to 2 or fewer standard drinks on any given day.
It’s never too late to start living a healthier lifestyle! If you’re struggling to find the time to exercise, try walking around your local park or shopping centre, instead of driving. Alternatively, you could walk to work and back each day or go for a bike ride in your spare time. If you’re still not getting enough exercise, talk to your doctor about other ways to increase your physical activity levels. They can also recommend a qualified trainer or exercise specialist who can help you set realistic goals and develop a safe, enjoyable fitness plan.