Eating a wide variety of healthy foods helps to keep you in good health and protects you against chronic disease.
Eating a well-balanced diet means eating a variety of foods from each of the 5 food groups daily, in the recommended amounts.
It is also important to choose a variety of foods from within each food group.
Takeaway foods, cakes, biscuits and soft drinks are examples of foods usually high in saturated fat, added salt or added sugars. They should be considered as extras to your usual diet and only eaten occasionally and in small amounts.
The recommended number of serves for each food group is different for children, teenagers, women and men.
Eat a variety of foods
Healthy eating means eating a wide variety of foods from each of the 5 major food groups, in the amounts recommended.
Eating a variety of foods from the 5 major food groups provides a range of nutrients to the body, promotes good health and can help reduce the risk of disease – as well as keeping your diet interesting with different flavours and textures.
Many of the foods that often feature regularly in modern diets do not form part of the 5 food groups. These foods, sometimes referred to as ‘junk’ foods, ‘discretionary choices’ or ‘occasional foods’ can be enjoyed sometimes, but should not feature regularly in a healthy diet. Fats and oils are high in kilojoules (energy) but necessary for a healthy diet in small amounts.
No matter where you’re starting, it’s easy to make little changes to bring your eating closer in line with the Australian Dietary Guidelines. Just focus on eating foods from the 5 major food groups and reducing your intake of occasional foods.
Foods are grouped together because they provide similar amounts of key nutrients. For example, key nutrients of the milk, yoghurt, cheese and alternatives group include calcium and protein, while the fruit group is a good source of vitamins, especially vitamin C.
Eating a varied, well-balanced diet means eating a variety of foods from each of the 5 food groups daily, in the recommended amounts. Because different foods provide different types and amounts of key nutrients, it is important to choose a variety of foods from within each food group. As a bonus, choosing a variety of foods will help to make your meals interesting, so that you don’t get bored with your diet.
Some foods do not fit into the 5 food groups because they are not necessary for a healthy diet. These foods are called ‘discretionary choices’ (sometimes referred to as ‘junk foods’) and they should only be eaten occasionally.
They tend to be too high in saturated fat, added sugars, added salt or alcohol, and have low levels of important nutrients like fibre.
These foods and drinks can also be too high in kilojoules (energy). Regularly eating more kilojoules than your body needs will lead to weight gain.