Healthy Tips on Eating – Strategies for Healthy Eating

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Not sure where to start when it comes to healthy eating?

Our dietitians have the inside scoop on strategies for healthy eating. Making healthy choices when it comes to food isn’t always easy, but it doesn’t have to be a struggle. Chatting with a dietitian from our team about making these changes to your eating habits can give you great starting points and provide professional guidance when it comes to navigating nutrition.

A bit of background on healthy eating

We have all heard that a healthy diet is an important part of our overall health, but why is it so important? Our bodies need a certain amount of vitamins, minerals and nutrients to be able to run well and how we fuel our bodies to get these things is through food. Too much or too little of one thing can have a big impact on how we feel mentally and physically. Healthy eating is the practice of making choices about food that involve improving our health.

The goal of the dietitian team at Active Ability is to help you to understand what foods work for you and help your body do its best so you can achieve your goals and feel your best. Learning about food groups, and exploring new recipes can make eating enjoyable and empower you to take control of your healthy habits.

What are the benefits of a healthy diet?

We have touched on the fact that food is fuel for our bodies, it gives us energy and provides us with nutrients, but what are the short and long-term benefits of a healthy diet?

Short term benefits
  • You’ll find yourself having more energy
  • Improved mood and concentration

Long term benefits

  • A healthy diet reduces the risk of chronic illnesses such as obesity, heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes
  • Can reduce the risk of high blood pressure
  • Improved immune system
  • Better sleep


So, what does a healthy diet look like?

Traditionally it is a diet that has many different food groups, the majority of which provide essential nutrients. This is a diet with low saturated fat, less processed foods, more balance in the type of foods you eat such as including lean meats, salt-reduced foods, enough carbohydrates, increasing vegetables and fruit wherever possible, the right amount of fibre, and the right amount of calcium – it’s already getting a bit complicated just looking at the basics!

The journey can be a bit overwhelming, so getting professional advice can be a great starting point. Get in touch with our dietitian team today to learn about these essential nutrients and what foods you can find them in.

A range of healthy fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts and seeds arrayed on a table

What’s the difference between healthy fats and saturated fat?

These terms are seen a lot when talking about healthy foods.

When it comes to fats, there are two important types to differentiate between healthy fat and saturated fat.

Healthy fats sometimes referred to as unsaturated fat, come from plants and fish. Some examples of unsaturated fats are avocados, nuts, seeds and some oils. These types of fats provide fatty acids that the body needs to create energy, and hormones and to help the body absorb nutrients.

It’s important to know that all types of fats play an important role in our overall health and the amount of fats to include in our diets will differ from person to person.

Saturated fat is found mostly in animal sources such as red meat or dairy products like cheese or butter. While it is important to consume these foods for overall balance, too much saturated fats in our diets can raise our blood cholesterol levels and increase risk factors for heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Want to know more? Check in with our dietitians.

Are carbs bad for you?

Carbohydrates have been given a bit of a bad name when it comes to a healthy diet, however, they are an important part of a balanced diet. Carbohydrates provide us with energy. Adding carbohydrates (especially high fibre or low GI types of carbohydrates, e.g., brown or basmati rice, wholegrain bread, wholegrain pasta) to meals helps us stay fuller for longer. Many carbohydrates also provide us with important vitamins such as B vitamins, magnesium, potassium and fibre.

Simple carbohydrates are things like white bread, chips and cake while complex carbohydrates are things like whole grains, beans and legumes. As with all foods, moderation is key, and understanding the difference between simple carbs and complex carbs can help you to pick the best type for your diet.

Our Top 5 Tips for Healthy Eating

1. Find what works for you and set yourself up for success

There is no “one size fits all” approach to eating healthy – we are all individuals with unique food preferences, lifestyles and goals. What works for your neighbour, best friend or colleague might not work for you. The key is to find an approach to a healthy diet that suits your individual needs. This might involve some trial and error, but it will be worth it when you find an approach that you can stick to long-term.

When it comes to creating and implementing a healthy diet it is important that you find what works best for you. Totally abstaining from one certain food doesn’t always work and it is important to reward yourself with foods you love.

Making lots of changes at once can be overwhelming and is often unsustainable. It is important to still enjoy all kinds of food including chocolate and cake, but make sure that the nutrient-rich foods are eaten more regularly.

If you eat processed food often, like fast food, try swapping out the chips for a salad, or a sugary soft drink for a sugar free soft drink or even better, water! Over time, these little changes will have a big impact on your health.

When it comes to changing any behaviour, setting yourself up for success is crucial. If you want to eat more vegetables, have a variety available and make it easy and convenient to access/use! For example, have plenty of pre-washed, ready-to-eat vegetables on hand to easily and quickly add it to a meal or have as a snack. If you want to eat less processed foods, don’t keep temptations around the house. And if you want to cook more meals from scratch, menu plan and do some batch cooking on the weekends.

Trying to make too many changes at once is often overwhelming and unsustainable. Rather than going from eating fast food every day to eating only salads, start by making small swaps like swapping fries for a side salad or having an open sandwich instead of a burger. Over time, these small changes will add up to big results.

Contact us for dietitian-approved ideas for moderation, so that you can still enjoy your ice cream, chocolate or whatever treat food you love the most as part of a balanced diet.

2. Good, better and best

Swapping out food you already eat for healthier options can be an easy way to improve your nutrient intake. This will also allow for more variety in your diet and help to discover creative and delicious ways to incorporate the foods that will make you feel good from the inside out.

A good swap that will help in so many ways is swapping out sugary drinks and energy drinks for water where you can. Water is one of the most essential nutrients but is so often overlooked, especially with all of the drink options.

However, skipping water can affect our physical and mental well-being. Water helps our bodies function properly, by helping us digest food, regulating our body temperature, helping to remove waste and lubricating our joints for better movement.

We should consume 2 litres of water every day, depending on factors including our weight and what activities we get up to. An easy way to get more water in is to make sure you take a water bottle everywhere you go. Set yourself goals to drink a certain amount each hour. If you struggle with plain water, add some cut-up fruit or diet cordial to give it a bit more flavour.

Another example is when we have fruit, an apple a day is good, better is leaving the skin on and best is getting in 2 serves of fruit every day. If you find yourself getting too full trying to get in your fruits and vegetables, you can combine your fruit and vegetable intake into a smoothie.

You can see that it takes a lot of different things to fuel our bodies, and the key to being able to tick off all those essential nutrients is variety! Some foods are more nutrient-rich than others, and incorporating the best foods is where we can help ourselves to achieve our healthy food goals.

Little things like adding canned beans to meals can improve your protein intake, adding nuts to your yoghurt can increase your good fat intake, and swapping your full cream milk for a lighter choice can reduce your saturated fat intake. Little changes daily can make all the difference when it comes to feeding your body the best fuel.

3. Learn how to cook

Knowing what is in your food can help you to ensure you are creating nutrient-rich meals. The first part of this is being knowledgeable in what types of food fuel our bodies well, and how to incorporate those foods into our meals daily.

Following on from knowing what food is good for us, is knowing what to do with it. Learning how to cook is a great skill! Knowing how to cook not only allows us to make healthy meals for ourselves and our loved ones but also teaches us about nutrition and portion control.

Cooking a meal from start to finish is a huge accomplishment and helps us to become more aware of the impact of food on our physical and mental health. Planning and making a meal involves researching recipes, going shopping and using skills like chopping, measuring and multi-tasking with different parts of meals. Cooking involves many essential skills that contribute as a whole to independent living.

Knowing the basics of cooking will help you to be confident to explore different cuisines, create your own dishes and plan your meals. Being able to meal prep for easy access will also help you to stop reaching for the ease of packaged and processed foods that don’t always have the fuel that your body needs.

4. Be in the know

Having an understanding of what a balanced diet looks like and which foods provide the most energy and nutrients can be invaluable for making healthier choices throughout the day.

Being educated on what healthy food choices look like is a huge advantage. There is a lot of misinformation out there on social media with a lot of diets and food trends promising miracle transformations and cures for weight loss. One of the most frustrating things for people is the number of conflicting messages and contradictory pieces of advice out there when it comes to being healthy.

Learning what to look for on the back of the packaging and knowing what the serving size of any food looks like is a great starting point.

To start with, the terms can limit our ideas about what good food is. Rather than deciding if a food is “healthy” or “unhealthy”, it might be better to judge foods on how nutritionally beneficial they are and how they make you feel afterwards.

Usually when we look online at “healthy diets” the goal is to lose weight and eat fewer calories, but it is more important to make these changes a lifelong goal and to aim for overall improved health, so you shine from the inside out.

Chatting with a professional about making these changes to your eating habits can give you great starting points and provide guidance when it comes to navigating nutrition.

5. Seek Support

It is important to seek support on a healthy food journey because it can help to provide motivation and accountability. Having someone to talk to and support you can be invaluable in achieving your goals. Seeking out the opinions of registered dietitians who specialize in healthy eating habits can be incredibly helpful when trying to make positive changes.

Your dietitian will be able to answer questions about nutrition and offer individualized plans that are tailored to your needs. They may also recommend certain types of foods that could be beneficial for your health journey.

Surrounding yourself with friends or family who are also committed to making healthier lifestyle changes can help provide encouragement during those times when it becomes difficult. We all need support at some point when we embark on such a journey, so don’t hesitate to reach out and ask for help if needed!

Changing your eating habits can be tough, so don’t go it alone. Talk to your friends and family about your goals so that they can support you on your journey.

The healthy eating process never ends as we continue to educate ourselves and learn what best fuels our bodies. Remember that new habits take some time to form and that you may not see changes in your body straight away, but the benefits of healthy eating will support you throughout your life.

At Active Ability, we have NDIS registered and approved dietitians who can help support you on your healthy eating journey. Find out more about how we can help by contacting us today.

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