1. Eat a variety of foods
For good health, we need more than 40 different nutrients, and no single food can supply them all. It is not about a single meal, it is about a balanced food choice over time that will make a difference!
2. Base your diet on plenty of foods rich in carbohydrates
About half the calories in our diet should come from foods rich in carbohydrates, such as cereals, rice, pasta, potatoes, and bread. It is a good idea to include at least one of these at every meal. Wholegrain foods, like wholegrain bread, pasta, and cereals, will increase our fibre intake.
3. Replace saturated with unsaturated fat
Fats are important for good health and proper functioning of the body. However, too much of it can negatively affect our weight and cardiovascular health. Limit the consumption of total and saturated fats (often coming from foods of animal origin), and completely avoid trans fats. Eating fish 2-3 times a week, with at least one serving of oily fish, will contribute to our right intake of unsaturated fats. When cooking, we should boil, steam or bake, rather than frying, remove the fatty part of meat, use vegetable oils.
4. Enjoy plenty of fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are among the most important foods for giving us enough vitamins, minerals and fibre. We should try to eat at least 5 servings a day. For example, a glass of fresh fruit juice at breakfast, perhaps an apple and a piece of watermelon as snacks, and a good portion of different vegetables at each meal.
5. Reduce salt and sugar intake
A high salt intake can result in high blood pressure, and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Sugary foods and drinks are rich in energy, and are best enjoyed in moderation, as an occasional treat. We could use fruits instead, even to sweeten our foods and drinks.
6. Eat regularly, control the portion size
Eating a variety of foods, regularly, and in the right amounts is the best formula for a healthy diet.
Skipping meals, especially breakfast, can lead to out-of-control hunger, often resulting in helpless overeating. Snacking between meals can help control hunger, but snacking should not replace proper meals.
7. Drink plenty of fluids
Adults need to drink at least 1.5 litres of fluid a day! Or more if it’s very hot or they are physically active. Water is the best source, but fruit juices, tea, soft drinks, milk and other drinks, can all be okay – from time to time.
8. Maintain a healthy body weight
Being obese and overweight increases the risks of a wide range of diseases, including diabetes, heart diseases, and cancer. Physical activity helps us spend the energy, and makes us feel good. The message is reasonably simple: if we are gaining weight, we need to eat less and be more active!
9. Get on the move, make it a habit!
Physical activity is important for people of all weight ranges and health conditions. It helps us burn off the extra calories, it is good for the heart and circulatory system, it maintains or increases our muscle mass, it helps us focus, and improves overall health well-being. We don’t have to be top athletes to get on the move! 150 minutes per week of moderate physical activity is advised, and it can easily become part of our daily routine. We all could use the stairs instead of the elevator; go for a walk during lunch breaks (and stretch in our offices in between) and make time for a family weekend activity.
10. Start now! And keep changing gradually.
Gradual changes in our lifestyle are easier to maintain than major changes introduced all at once.
• Adapted from www.eufic.org/en/healthy-living/article