Why eating well is important
Eating well has many benefits for your health and wellbeing. It helps you have more energy and strength, helps you achieve or maintain a healthy weight, improves mood and helps prevent or reduce the risk of some conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and even some cancers.
What should I eat?
The Australian Dietary Guidelines provide general information about what you need to eat and how much. They were developed by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). The guidelines include five key principles:
- Achieve and maintain a healthy weight by being physically active and choosing amounts of nutritious foods and drinks to meet your energy needs.
- Enjoy a wide variety of nutritious food from the five food groups every day: plenty of vegetables of different types and colours, and legumes/beans; fruit; grains, mostly wholegrains, such as breads, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles, polenta, couscous, oats, quinoa and barley; lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, and legumes/beans; and milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives, mostly reduced fat.
- Limit your intake of alcohol and food containing saturated fat, added salt and added sugars.
- Encourage and promote breastfeeding.
- Care for your food; prepare and store it safely.
For more information about the guidelines, see eatforhealth.gov.au.
Being physically active is important for health and wellbeing. Any activity that gets your body moving and speeds up your breathing and heartbeat can help you achieve or maintain a healthy body weight, improve your mood, and help prevent some conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and even some cancers.
Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines for Adults encourage everyone to move more and sit less. Adults should aim to be active for most, preferably all, days of the week.
Drink less alcohol
Many people drink alcohol to relax and socialise. However, drinking too much may lead to weight gain and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, some cancers and diabetes. For healthy men and women who choose to drink alcohol, Cancer Council recommends you follow the NHMRC guidelines and limit your intake to two standards drinks a day. For details of standard drink sizes, see alcohol.gov.au.
Fluids are an essential part of any diet. They allow you to stay hydrated and help your kidneys function. As a general guide, you should aim for at least 8–10 glasses of fluid per day. As well as drinking water, you can get fluid from soups, milkshakes or smoothies, fruit juices, fruit, or ice cubes.
Expert content reviewers:
Amber Kelaart, Senior Dietitian, Nutrition & Speech Pathology Department, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Monica Conway, Assistant Nurse Manager, Cancer Information and Support Service, Cancer Council Victoria, VIC; Anne Finch, LiveLighter Project Officer, Cancer Council Western Australia, WA; Clare Hughes, Nutrition Program Manager, Cancer Council NSW, NSW; Tanya King, Senior Oncology Dietitian, Coastal Cancer Care, Sunshine Coast University Private Hospital, QLD; Tony Southwell, Consumer; Klara Suessenbach, Health Promotion Officer, Cancer Council Tasmania, TAS.