The time to start is now – eating from a wide variety of foods, in sensible portions, ensures you get all the nutrients you need without endangering your health.
Eating well will help you maintain a healthy body weight. Plan your meals and snacks (if you need these) ahead of time to make sure you don’t get caught out having to buy food when you’re out that might not be a healthy option.
Each food group plays a role in keeping you healthy
Include a variety of nutritious foods from each of the four major food groups:
- vegetables and fruit
- grain foods
- milk and milk products
- legumes, nuts, seeds, fish and other seafood, eggs, poultry and / or red meat with the fat removed.
Make plain water your first choice over other drinks. If you drink alcohol, keep your intake low and avoid if pregnant.
Once you’ve planned meals for one week you can make slight changes for the following weeks to make sure you have variety.
Making healthy choices
Choose and/or prepare foods and drinks:
- with unsaturated fat instead of saturated fat
- that are low in salt (sodium)
- with little or no added sugar
- that are mostly ‘whole’ and less processed.
Prepare, cook and store food in a way that ensures it is safe to eat.
Recommended daily servings of major food types
|If you choose a wide variety of foods in the amounts shown above, you will find you won't have so much room for 'rubbish' foods.|
Number of servings
|Vegetables||At least 3|
|Fruit||At least 2|
|Grain foods, mostly whole grains and those naturally high in fibre||At least 6|
|Milk products and alternatives||At least 2|
|Legumes, nuts, and seeds or at least 1 serving of fish and other seafood, eggs, poultry or lean red meat||At least 2|
While that’s good for being able to choose a variety of foods, it’s also important to remember to keep food portions small.
A good rule of thumb is food that will cover your palm is one serving. For a healthy evening meal, picture your plate divided into four with:
- one-quarter protein foods (legumes, nuts, seeds, eggs, fish, poultry or meat)
- one-quarter grains or starchy carbohydrates such as rice, pasta or potatoes
- two-quarters non-starchy vegetables such as beans, broccoli or carrots.
Use the guide below to gauge how much one food serving really is:
3 a day
2 a day
2 a day
6 a day
2 a day
Eating and Activity Guidelines Ministry of Health NZ, 2015