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. This info is based on the Ministry of Health’s recommendations for further information click on the link and refer to appendix three. Which foods and how much is explained below:

  • Fruit and vegetables provide fibrevitamins and minerals. Starchy vegetables and fruit also provide energy in the form of carbohydrates. Adults need at least 5 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit every day. Serving size examples:
    • the amount that fits into the palm of your hand
    • ½ cup of cooked vegetables or 1 cup of salad
    • ½ medium potato, or similar size piece of kumara, yam, or taro
    • 1 medium apple, pear, banana or orange
    • Note: Aim to have half of your lunch dinner plate made up of vegetables or salad, and make these as colourful as you can, e.g., red tomatoes, purple cabbage, orange carrots, green broccoli and yellow capsicums.
  • Grain Foods are high in carbohydrates and wholegrain or wholemeal can also be a great source of fibrevitamins and minerals. Adults need at least 6 serves each day, choosing mainly wholegrain options. Serving size examples:
    • 1 roll, 1 medium slice of bread
    • ½ cup cooked porridge
    • ½ cup muesli
    • ½ cup cooked pasta or brown rice.
  • Milk and milk products are good sources of protein and calcium. Adults need 2-3 serves every day. Reduced or low-fat options are lower in fat and saturated fat, but have higher calcium and protein, so make good choices all round. Serving size examples:
    • 1 cup of milk
    • 1 pottle of yoghurt
    • 2 slices of cheese (40g)

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 high sugar content, so should only be consumed 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. A ‘standard drink’ is a 100 ml glass of wine, 330 ml can of beer and 30 ml measure of spirits. If you are choosing to drink alcohol, check out our alcohol page for more information.

(* All of 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 of ‘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.


Ministry of Health. 2020. Eating and Activity Guidelines for New Zealand Adults: Updated 2020. Wellington: Ministry of Health.

Last Reviewed 20/06/22

Last modified: June 20, 2022