Everything you eat and drink matters. The right combination of foods can help you be healthier now and in the future. Eating a healthy diet can prevent chronic diseases like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and even some cancers. If you already have any of these conditions, a healthy diet can lead to significant improvement.
- Focus on variety, amount, and good nutritional content – complex carbohydrates instead of simple refined carbohydrates for example.
- Choose foods and beverages with less saturated fat, less salt, and added sugars.
- Start with small changes to build healthier eating styles.
What should you eat?
Your meals should include:
- Fruits and Vegetables
- Whole-grain, high-fiber foods
- Fat-free and low-fat semi-skim dairy products if you can tolerate them
- Beans, skinless poultry and lean meats
- Fish such as salmon, trout and herring contain omega 3 fatty acids (eat at least twice a week)
Keeping a food journal is a good way to become aware of your eating habits.
It may help to first understand your current eating habits – what you eat and why you eat. Keep a food journal for 1 week by writing down what you eat, how much, and what time of day you ate it. Write down what else you were doing and how you were feeling when you ate, such as being hungry, stressed, tired, or bored. For example, maybe you were at work and were bored. Review your journal at the end of the week and look at your eating habits.
- Reflect – think about what triggers, or prompts, may be causing some of your eating habits.
- Eat slowly; eat only when you are hungry; plan your meals; control your portion sizes.
- Get rid of unhealthy foods
How much should you eat?
Eat the right amount of calories for you based on your age, gender and physical activity level.
Daily calorie estimates determined by the Institute of Medicine
This is what your plate should look like – balanced! It is best for adults to replace the cup of dairy with water. In hot climates, 2 – 3 litres of water per day is needed to stay well hydrated.
Calorie content of some traditional Nigerian foods