Healthy eating and a balanced lifestyle | Bay of Plenty District Health Board | Hauora a Toi | BOPDHB

Healthy eating and a balanced lifestyle

Healthy eating and a balanced lifestyle

When aiming for a more balanced lifestyle, make small changes to one or two areas first rather than completely changing everything - you're more likely to be successful that way.

By choosing a diet rich in wholefoods like coloured vegetables and fruit, plain dairy products, wholegrains, nuts and seeds, seafood and meat you get all of the needed and important fibre, vitamins and minerals from the food.

Whole foods

Wholefoods are foods that are still in their whole form wholefoods have no or little processing, a low human intervention factor from growing to consumption. They are micronutrient dense and generally don't contain additives like salt, fat, sugar and preservatives. Examples of whole foods include vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, meat, seafood, eggs. Often whole foods are found around the outside aisles in the supermarket, while the highly refined processed foods are often found in the middle aisles. Some of these foods have had some form of processing but they are still in their whole form.

If you can't get fresh fish, try canned fish in spring water or oil even though it's been processed by being tined and preserved it's still in its whole form.

Tined fish is a great source of protein for muscle building, high in calcium for strong bones, and an oily fish like salmon or tuna can be high in Omega 3 - great brain and heart food.

Frozen vegetables have been processed by being lightly cooked and frozen but they are still in their whole form.

Highly Processed Foods and Drinks

Highly processed foods have been processed in ways were the structure of the food has been changed. This may be by the removal of parts of the food and may include the adding of high amounts of sugar, salt, fat, artificial flavours and colours.      

Sugar in Food and Drinks

Fruit juice, fizzy drinks, energy drinks and flavoured milk are high in energy and do not give you the benefits you would get from eating a portion of fruit, such as the much needed vitamins, minerals and fibre.

Sugary drinks should be just for an occasional treat. This is because of their high sugar content. There is on an average eight teaspoons of sugar in a 350ml glass of orange juice or flavoured milk, similar to most fizzy drinks. A glass of orange juice often contains the equivalent of 5-7 oranges which people would struggle to eat in one sitting, but people can easily drink the same amount in juice form without feeling full.

Replace sugary drinks with ice cold water with a squeeze of fresh orange or a piece of fruit or just plain milk. By adding lots of colour from the fruit and vegetables into your diet you get all the important nutrients you require. Soda water can be a great alternative to fizzy drinks.

Sports drinks are only suitable during or after intense physical training.  So when you're not training, replace with water. Fill a water bottle and chill in the fridge, then take it with you when it's time to head out to play.

When choosing a cereal it is important to check the ingredients. Look for cereals marked as 'high fibre' or 'contains whole grains' and that are not high in sugar. These types of cereals are more slowly digested and the fibre will help you to feel fuller for longer. Oats are one of the few breakfast cereals that do not contain added sugar. You can try oats with a mix of nuts/seeds and cinnamon as a topping.

Whole grain breads contain more fibre than white breads. Whole grain breads should be our preferred bread. Remember to use the bread as a carrier for high nutrient foods such as salmon, sardines, spinach, avocado, eggs, rather than jam. If using spreads it's important to understand that jam and berry spreads contain a lot of sugar (for every cup of berries to make jam, there is a cup of sugar added). If you have a tablespoon of jam you are almost having a tablespoon of sugar.