How to eat healthier
Every little change makes a difference.
The easiest way to eat more of the 5 Food Groups is to start small and try one new healthy ‘habit’ each week. See some practical tips to eat more of each of the 5 Food Groups below.
Vegetables and legumes/beans
- Spreading vegetables across breakfast, lunch and dinner (plus snacks if you need them) makes it easier to get our five or more serves of vegetables each day.
- Buying vegetables that are in season is cheaper and they are generally fresher and tastier.
- Use frozen vegetables – they are just as nutritious as fresh vegetables. Try steaming some frozen vegetables in the microwave as a side or adding to stir-fry.
- Use canned vegetables, legumes and beans (with no added salt or reduced salt). Bulk up pasta sauces, soups, stews or Mexican mixes with lentils and beans.
- Half the amount of mince you use in wet dishes and replace it with tinned legumes or beans and finely chopped or grated carrot, celery and zucchini.
- Include salads on the side of your meals.
- Chop vegetables ahead of time and store them in containers in the fridge. Munch on them with hummus or another vegetable based dip as a snack.
- Keep vegetables interesting – try different cooking methods such as steaming, grilling, baking or stir-frying with just a small amount of oil.
- Slice and freeze fruit ahead of time. Frozen banana slices, orange slices and grapes make fun and delicious snacks.
- Buying fruits that are in season is cheaper and they are generally fresher and tastier.
- Take a piece of fruit when you go out so you have a cheap and convenient snack ready to go before you get hungry.
- If you choose to have dessert, try a fruit and dairy based dessert such as berries or pears with yoghurt.
- Blend frozen bananas in a high-powered blender as a fruity, high fibre, ice-cream alternative.
Grain (cereal) foods
Most of us need to eat more wholegrain and high fibre cereal foods and less white or refined cereal products. Some practical ideas include:
- Look for words like ‘wholegrain’ or ‘wholemeal’ on packets when buying grain (cereal) foods such as bread and breakfast cereal.
- Check the nutrition information panel on the back of grain (cereal) products; choose products that have 3g or more fibre per serve. Eat for Health have more information on how to read a nutrition information panel
- Try wholemeal, high fibre or legume based pasta instead of white pasta.
- Swap white rice for brown rice or quinoa.
- Choose a wholegrain breakfast cereal that has no/minimal added sugar. If ‘sugars’ content per 100g is more than 15g, check that sugar (or alternative names for added sugar) is not listed high on the ingredient list.
- Other names for added sugar include dextrose, fructose, glucose, golden syrup, honey, maple syrup, sucrose, malt, maltose, lactose, brown sugar, caster sugar, maple syrup, raw sugar, sucrose
- Replace white flour in baking with wholemeal flours.
- Swap deep-fried meat, chicken or fish for grilled or oven-baked.
- Swap fatty, processed sandwich meats such as fritz, salami and mettwurst for lean turkey, chicken, beef, tuna, salmon or sardines.
- Introduce a weekly meat free day (such as ‘Meat Free Monday’) and improve your vegetarian cooking skills. Incorporate vegetarian protein sources such as eggs, beans, legumes and tofu. For meat free recipe inspiration, check out our budget-friendly recipes
- Swap sausages for home-made lean rissoles with added grated vegetables.
- If you choose to eat red meat, choose lean, unprocessed red meat and limit it to 1-3 times a week.
Broccoli pasta with basil pesto recipe
Dairy and alternatives
Milk, yoghurt, cheese and alternatives:
- Instead of a yoghurt sweetened with sugar, try sweetening plain reduced fat natural or Greek yoghurt with fresh, frozen or canned fruit.
- Try these tips to replace foods rich in saturated fats such as cream and sour cream with protein-rich dairy foods:
- Swap cream* on desserts for low-fat ricotta mixed with a little apple juice, or a dollop of reduced fat yoghurt.
- Swap cream* in cooking for reduced fat (or light) evaporated milk.
- Replace sour cream* with reduced fat natural or Greek yoghurt.
*these are classified as sometimes foods because they are low in calcium and high in saturated fat.