Poor nutrition in Australia is often linked with high energy foods, and/or foods that are high in sugar, salt and saturated fat.

Good nutrition plays a key role in the health and wellbeing of individuals. A healthy diet reduces the risk of premature death and chronic ill-health, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. Despite this, 96% of adults do not eat the recommended daily serve of vegetables, and just 49.8% of Australians eat the recommended daily serves of fruit. Is this you?

 Think you already eat healthy?

If you think that you already eat healthy and eat the recommended daily servings of fruit and vegetables, then take the Healthy Eating Quiz and find out for sure. It will help to identify whether you are eating a wide variety of nutritious foods, as well as highlight areas where you could improve, including some suggestions to help improve your diet. Take the quiz at http://www.healthyeatingquiz.com.au/.

Want to make a change? Become involved in Australia’s Smart Eating Week

Smart Eating Week is highlighted in the second week of February and focuses on good nutrition. It’s an initiative of the Dietitians Association of Australia to raise awareness of the importance of eating healthily to keep our body healthy and strong, as well as to prevent illness.

The initiative in particular, is encouraging all Aussies to eat smarter to help keep their weight in check, as well to help them lead a healthier lifestyle.

Want some Smart Eating facts?

* Eat at least two servings of fruit and five servings of vegetables every day

Filled with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals,and fibre, eating the recommended servings of fruit and vegetables will help keep you healthy and will reduce your risk of developing illnesses, such as some cancers, diabetes and heart disease. Try and incorporate vegetables in all your meals to help you reach the recommended serving.

* Eat a healthy breakfast every day

Breakfast kicks start the metabolism. You’re also less likely to indulge in unhealthy options later in the day, as well as less likely to regain lost weight.

* Choose wholegrain breads and cereals regularly

These foods keep you fuller for longer and help to reduce your risk of developing certain diseases, including diabetes and colon cancer.

* Choose ‘reduced’ fat dairy foods

Calcium is essential for strong bones and teeth. It also reduces your risk of osteoporosis and other diseases.

* Choose lean meat and/or alternatives

Every healthy diet needs to include a good source of protein which provides many nutritional benefits, and less calories too!

* Limit high kilojoule and high fat food and drink, to once a week or less

These options provide very low to no nutritional value and do not fuel your body in a healthy way. Limiting these foods also reduces your risk of weight gain and risk of heart disease and stroke.

* Choose the right portion sizes for you

Over indulgence leads to weight gain. Become familiar with recommended portion sizes and keep a food diary to help keep your serving sizes in check. Monitoring your intake will help you manage that amount you are eating.

* Reduce your salt intake

A diet high in sodium increases your risk of high blood pressure which is a major risk factor for heart disease.

* Drink plenty of water

Water not only keeps you hydrated and energised, but it also aids in digestion, and ensures the maintenance of all bodily functions. Drinking plenty of water also helps with weight loss.

* Limit takeaway

The more you cook at home, the more likely you are to eat less and consume less fat, salt and sugar.

* Reduce your alcohol intake

Drinking in moderation reduces your risk of alcohol dependency and liver disease, as well as reduces your risk of developing other diseases, including cancer.

* Limit your sugary drink intake

Sugary drinks provide no nutritional value and increase your risk of weight gain and tooth decay.

* Keep treats out of the house to avoid temptation

When shopping, purchase healthy snacks and reserve the treats for special occasions. Treats that are readily available in the home are more likely to be eaten…

Still struggling?

See an accredited dietitian. Dietitians are university trained and can offer you dietary advice that is practical and tailored for you.

A healthier you is achievable

Like with any behaviour change you make, it takes time and effort. Even aiming to drop a few centimetres from your waistline, or losing just 5 – 10% of your starting weight, is a great start and will help you feel healthy in the long term. Don’t forget to also move as often as you can – at least 30 to 60 minutes every day.

Focus on making lifestyle changes that will improve your health and wellbeing. Set a small goal and take regular and small action steps every day towards that goal, and in good time you will achieve what you desire – a healthier you!

If you’re feeling stuck, there are a number of professional services that can help – speak to your doctor for further information and support.

Until next time, wishing you all great health and wellbeing, including a healthy and happy lifestyle!

Like this article? Then share it on social media.

Want to be kept up to date? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter and as a thank you gift, receive our health & wellbeing e-Book for free.

For further information on Australia’s Smart Eating Week, visit https://daa.asn.au/smart-eating-for-you/smart-eating-week/.

REFERENCES:
Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2015). National Health Survey: First Results, 2014-15.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2018). Australia’s health. AIHW’s 16th biennial report. AIHW Bulletin. Cat. no. Aus 221. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

National Health and Medical Research Council (2013) Clinical practice guidelines for the management of overweight and obesity in adults, adolescents and children in Australia. Melbourne: National Health and Medical Research Council.