We have access to a wide range of foods in Australia, but for us to choose more wisely we need to be better informed to protect our health.
Maintaining a healthy diet also means you're more likely to be a healthy weight. If you're a healthy weight, you are more likely to live longer, and less likely to die prematurely from lifestyle-related diseases.
What should we eat?
The Australian Dietary Guidelines provide advice about the amount and kinds of foods we should be eating to stay healthy. The recommendations are based on scientific evidence.
They recommend eating a variety of nutritious food from these five groups every day:
- plenty of vegetables, including different types and colours
- grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain or high cereal fibre varieties, such as breads, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles, polenta, couscous, oats, quinoa and barley
- lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds
- milk, yoghurt, cheese or their alternatives, mostly reduced fat (reduced fat milks are not suitable for children under the age of 2 years).
Handy links relating to childhood nutrition and healthy snacks
- Low Salt Lunchbox Swaps
- Healthy Eating Advisory Service – Fruity Fun Snacks for Children
- Royal Children’s Hospital Nutrition Resources
- Printable templates for meal planning and lunchboxes
Are you overweight?
One way of knowing if you're a healthy weight is by using a Body Mass Index (BMI) Calculator. You need to know your weight in kilograms and your height in centimeters to use the calculator. You can also work out if you are overweight by measuring your waist circumference.
Regular physical activity has important benefits for physical and mental health. It reduces the risk of many health problems including:
- cardiovascular disease
- type 2 diabetes
- some cancers.
How much should we be exercising?
Australia's Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines outline that each week adults (18-64 years) should be doing:
- 2.5 - 5 hours of moderate intensity physical activity
- 1.25 - 2.5 hours of vigorous intensity physical activity, or
- an equivalent combination of both moderate and vigorous activities
- muscle-strengthening activities on at least 2 days each week.