Every day we are bombarded with nutrition and health messages and a seemingly endless array of concerns about lifestyle and diet. Healthy eating and a healthful way of life are important to how we look, feel and how much we enjoy life. The right lifestyle decisions, with a routine of good food and regular exercise, can help us make the most of what life has to offer. Making smart food choices early in life and through adulthood can also help reduce the risk of certain conditions such as obesity, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, certain cancers and osteoporosis.

1. Introduction

Every day we are bombarded with nutrition and health messages and a seemingly endless array of concerns about lifestyle and diet. Healthy eating and a healthful way of life are important to how we look, feel and how much we enjoy life. The right lifestyle decisions, with a routine of good food and regular exercise, can help us make the most of what life has to offer. Making smart food choices early in life and through adulthood can also help reduce the risk of certain conditions such as obesity, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, certain cancers and osteoporosis.

2. Key factors of a healthy diet
2.1. Enjoy the wide variety of foods

This concept is the most consistent health message in dietary recommendations around the world. We need more than 40 different nutrients for good health and no single food can supply them all. That’s why consumption of a wide variety of foods (including fruits, vegetables, cereals and grains, meats, fish and poultry, dairy products and fats and oils), is necessary for good health and any food can be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet. Some studies have linked dietary variety with longevity. In any event, choosing a variety of foods adds to the enjoyment of meals and snacks.

2.2. Eat regularly

Eating is one of the life’s great pleasures and its important to take time to stop, relax and enjoy mealtimes and snacks. Scheduling eating times also ensures that meals are not missed, resulting in missed nutrients that are often not compensated for by subsequent meals. This is especially important for school children, adolescents and the elderly.

Breakfast is particularly important as it helps kick-start the body by supplying energy after the all-night fast. Breakfast also appears to help control weight. All mealtimes offer the opportunity for social and family interaction. So whether it is three square meals or six mini-meals or snacks, the aim is to make healthy choices you can enjoy.

2.3. Balance and moderation

Balancing your food intake means getting enough, but not too much, of each type of nutrient. If portion sizes are kept reasonable, there is no need to eliminate favourite foods. There are no “good” or “bad” foods, only good or bad diets. Any food can fit into a healthy lifestyle by remembering moderation and balance.

Moderate amounts of all foods can help ensure that energy (calories) intake is controlled and that excessive amounts of any one food or food component are not eaten. If you choose a high fat snack, choose a lower fat option at the next meal. Examples of reasonable serving sizes are 75 -100 grams (the size of a palm) of meat, one medium piece of fruit.