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Good health means we can live to the full and reduce our risk of diseases such as diabetes and heart disease as we grow older. What we eat throughout life is important in achieving good health – here are some simple guidelines to help you.
Eat a variety of foods every day
Eating a variety of foods in suitable amounts from all four food groups, will go a long way towards meeting your daily nutritional needs. Which foods and how much is explained below:
- Fruit and vegetables provide carbohydrates, fibre, vitamins and minerals, making them the perfect snack food. Adults need at least 2 servings of fruit and 3 of vegetables every day, with a serve being the amount that fits into the palm of your hand. Aim to have half of your dinner plate made up of vegetables or salad, and make these as colourful as you can: eg. red tomatoes, purple cabbage, orange carrots, green broccoli and yellow capsicums.
- Grain Foods are high in carbohydrates and if wholegrain or wholemeal can also be a great source of fibre, vitamins and minerals. Adults need at least 6 serves each day. A ‘serve’ is approximately 1 roll, 1 medium slice of bread, ½ cup cooked porridge, ½ cup muesli, 1 cup cooked pasta or rice.
- Milk and milk products are good sources of protein and calcium. Adults need 2-3 serves every day. A ‘serve’ is 1 cup of milk, 1 pottle of yoghurt, 2 slices of cheese or 2 scoops of ice cream. Reduced or low fat options are lower in fat and saturated fat, but have higher calcium and protein, so make good choices all round.
- Lean Meat and alternatives including lean meat, skinless poultry, seafood, eggs, dried peas, beans and lentils are great sources of protein and provide important vitamins and minerals such as iron and zinc. Adults need 1 or more servings each day; one ‘serve’ being 2 slices cooked meat, ¾ cup cooked mince, 1 medium fillet of cooked fish, 1 chicken drumstick, ¾ cup cooked beans (eg. kidney beans or lentils).
Kiwi adults should choose foods, drinks and snacks lower in fat, salt and added sugar. Use cooking methods such as grilling, baking or microwaving instead of frying.
Adults need to drink enough fluid each day to ensure regular trips to the toilet, around 6-8 glasses. Fluids such as water, milk, tea, coffee and sugar-free soft drinks are good choices. Fruit juice, energy, soft and sports drinks have a high sugar content, so should only be used drunk occasionally in small amounts. Don't forget you also get fluid from food, such as fruits and vegetables.
Alcohol in moderation can be an enjoyable part of a balanced diet, but may have a strong dehydrating effect, so should not be considered part of your daily fluid intake. The Alcohol Advisory Council of New Zealand (ALAC) recommends no more than 15 standard drinks of alcohol per week for men or 10 standard drinks for women*. This means a daily limit of 3 standard drinks for men, and 2 standard drinks for women, with a ‘standard drink’ being 100ml glass of wine, 330ml can of beer and 30ml measure of spirits. If you are choosing to drink alcohol, check out our alcohol page for more information. (* All these recommendations are intended for those 18 years old and over).
Regular physical activity
Being active is important in maintaining a healthy body. It is recommended adults have at least 30 minutes ‘moderate intensity’ physical activity on most, if not all, days of the week, and if possible add some vigorous exercise for extra health and fitness. Our physical activity page gives examples of ‘moderate’ and ‘vigorous’ activities and has ideas on how to be more active in everyday life.