Department of Health & Human Services
Premiers Active April

Making healthy choices easier

Being healthy is a matter of making good choices. Often it comes down to simple every day decisions that are a lot easier to achieve than you might think.

LiveLighter has some top tips to help support the trial, adoption and maintenance of healthy eating. Start with the small changes, like turning down that extra slice of pizza or taking your bike for short trips. There are plenty of simple things you can do to get started.


1. Watch your portion size

Packaged food, takeaway and restaurant meal portion sizes have been getting bigger and bigger. Of course, while we may think bigger servings are better value for money, the truth is they come at a price and end up costing our health a great deal more.

Bigger portions mean we consume more energy – an even bigger problem when we eat highly processed snack food, takeaway foods and sugary drinks.

Top tips for controlling portion size

  • use a smaller plate;
  • avoid going back for seconds and freeze your leftovers straight away;
  • still hungry? have a glass of water. If you’re still hungry after that, try a healthy snack, like a piece of fruit;
  • eat at the table, not in front of the TV;
  • aim to fill half your plate with vegetables, one quarter with meat and alternatives (e.g. chicken, fish, legumes or tofu), and the last quarter with cereals and grains (e.g. rice, pasta, or bread);
  • when eating out, try ordering an entree size or share a main meal with a friend.

2. Watch the fats you eat

While fats are an important part of a healthy diet, different types of fats have different effects on our bodies. So it’s important to watch the types of fat we eat as well as how much. For optimum health, look at limiting the saturated fats in your diet – like bacon, sausage, fried chicken, or chocolate – as they can raise cholesterol levels and increase our risk of cardiovascular disease. While we shouldn’t cut all fat from our diets, it’s most important to be choosing those higher in mono- and poly-unsaturated fats to keep our bodies healthy.

Not all fats are bad

Unsaturated fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated) lower your cholesterol and provide essential fatty acids which are important for good health.

Polyunsaturated fats are found in foods such as tuna, tahini and sunflower oils. Omega-3 fatty acids belong to this group of good fats. The best source of Omega-3 is oily fish such as tuna, mackerel and salmon.

Monounsaturated fats are found in foods such as nuts, avocado and olive oil.

3. Go for 2 fruit and 5 veg

bigstock-Healthy-Eating-20502122_1024wideEating plenty of fruit and vegetables invariably contributes to good health, and protects us against a number of diseases including heart disease, some cancers, obesity and constipation. It also helps to maintain healthy weight, reduce blood pressure, blood cholesterol levels and improve control of type 2 diabetes.

Variety is the spice of life

An easy way to get a good variety of fruit and vegetables is to think of colour instead! Eating all the colours of the rainbow will give you the greatest mix of all the vitamins, minerals, fibre and plant nutrients – called phytochemicals – that are needed for good health. So the more colours you eat, the healthier you will be!

4. Cutting back on sugar

Too much sugar is one of the major problems associated with poor physical and mental health. It is a type of carbohydrate, and while our bodies need carbohydrates for energy, too much sugar leads not only to weight gain and tooth decay, but a wealth of other problems in its wake.

Where do we find sugar?

There are of course natural sugars found in foods we should be eating regularly. These include fruit and milk products – such as yoghurt, cheese, bananas and grapes. It’s great to eat foods like this every day, however, we should be avoiding as many foods as we can where sugar has been added. Unfortunately, these include most processed foods – nearly all of which are unhealthy and overly high in energy.

If we do choose packaged foods, how do we know which is best?

The best choices are simply those that are low in refined or added sugar. When selecting packaged foods, check the ingredients list and opt for no added sugar. Naturally occurring sugars from milk and fruit are fine. Beware of the ‘no added sugar’ claim which can be misleading. Food companies can use other ingredients such as fruit concentrate or honey to sweeten foods. Hidden sugars may not be evident on the ingredients list either, as sugar can go by many names including but not limited to corn syrup, malt, honey, glucose, sucrose and golden syrup.

Check the nutrition panel

Be sure to always check the ingredients list and the nutrition panel to compare products for sugar, and remember the sugar value does not separate added sugars and natural sugars. Always check the numbers in the Avg Quantity per 100g column of the information panel, and look for foods that are 5g or less in total sugar.

LiveLighter is all about leading a healthier lifestyle by making a few simple changes to your eating, drinking and physical activity habits. Check out the range of helpful fact sheets for more detailed information on any of the nutritional information above. 

Last updated: November 28, 2016 at: 11:52 am

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