Five building blocks to healthy eating

Thursday, 9 January 2020

It seems every week a new fad diet is launched and it can be confusing to work out what actually makes up a healthy diet. Try getting back to the basics with these five building blocks to healthy eating to make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need.

1. Eat regular meals in the right proportions for you

A healthy lifestyle includes a well-balanced diet full of fruit, vegetables, legumes, grains, dairy, lean meats, eggs, nuts and seeds.

Aim to eat three healthy meals during the day to meet your energy needs. A good guide to putting a healthy plate together includes:

  • Fill half your plate with a variety of non-starchy vegetables or salad
  • Fill a quarter of your plate with lean protein, tofu, legumes or beans
  • Fill a quarter of your plate with a low-GI carbohydrate food

If you’re looking for inspiration when it comes to meals check out our recipes. You’ll find some great ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner and even dessert.

2. Eat plenty of vegetables

Eating plenty of vegetables is important for good health. Most vegetables will not impact your blood glucose levels. They are also a great source of fibre, vitamins and minerals. To get the full benefits, eat a variety of different coloured vegetables.

3. Choose high-fibre, Low-GI carbohydrates

Carbohydrate foods are the main source of energy for your body. Your body breaks down carbohydrates into into glucose, which then enters your bloodstream and is used for energy. Include some carbohydrate food at each meal and spread them across the day to help you maintain your energy levels, without causing your BGLs to go too high or too low.

Low-GI carbohydrate foods break down into glucose slowly. They result in a smaller and slower rise in blood glucose levels after eating compared with high-GI foods. The best carbohydrate choices are high in fibre and have a low GI, such as:

  • Dense grainy/seeded breads
  • Oats
  • Grains such as barley and quinoa
  • Legumes
  • Most fruits

4. Choose healthy fats

Unsaturated fats include polysaturated fats and monosaturated fats. These are healthier fats, as they help to reduce your LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and increase your HDL (good cholesterol levels. Replacing saturated fats with these healthy fats can help reduce your risk of heart disease.

Polyunsaturated fats include:

  • Polyunsaturated margarines
  • Sunflower, safflower, soybean, corn, cottonseed, grapeseed and sesame oils.
  • Omega-3 fats (found in fatty fish such as sardines, tuna and salmon)
  • Nuts and seeds

Monosaturated fats include:

  • Canola and olive margarines
  • Olive, canola, peanut and macadamia oils
  • Avocado
  • Nuts and seeds

5. Choose foods low in added salt and avoid adding salt to your food

Reducing your salt intake can help lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease. Limit your salt intake by choosing foods that are low in sodium, or are salt-reduced, and by not adding salt to foods during cooking or before eating. Instead, use a variety of herbs, spices, lemon juice, lime juice or vinegar for extra flavouring.

If you’re looking for more information on healthy eating for diabetes, check out our factsheets for healthy meal ideas, tips on healthy cooking and ideas for healthy snacks.

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