Good health is valuable. To achieve a healthy diet, follow the Food-Based Dietary Guidelines for South Africans.
Enjoy a variety of food
If you eat a variety of food, you will take in a variety of vitamins and minerals that help prevent infections and illness and promote health.
Make starchy food part of most meals
Starchy foods (carbohydrates) provide us with energy during the day, so include them in most meals.
Try to eat starch food that has more roughage, to keep your digestive system healthy, such as:
• Brown rice
• Wholewheat or seed bread/rolls
• Wholewheat pasta
• Potatoes with skin on
• Sweet potatoes
• Mealies and samp
• Porridge such as oats and maltabella
• Cereals such as bran flakes and muesli
Fish, chicken, lean meat or eggs could be eaten daily
These foods are high in protein. They can be high in fat, so choose low fat options and cook them without adding too much fat.
• Remove the fat from meat and skin from chicken before cooking. Grill chicken, fish and meat instead of frying
• Boil or poach eggs rather than frying
• Sardines, tuna and salmon provide protein and essential fats.
Eat plenty of vegetables and fruit every day
Vegetables and fruit are important to eat as they provide many different vitamins and minerals, as well as roughage.
Try to eat at least five different vegetables and fruits every day. Follow these ideas:
• Eat fruit with breakfast, e.g. a banana with cereal or a glass of fruit juice with your toast
• Snack on fruit between meals, e.g. apples, pears, grapes, naartjies and bananas are easy to eat at work. Try to include other different fruits occasionally, such as berries, plums, nectarines, pineapple, kiwi fruit etc.
• Keep dried fruit e.g. raisins and dried peaches, on hand for a tasty snack
• Include salad with lunch or on a roll e.g. slices of tomato and lettuce, carrot sticks, celery sticks
• Try to include two vegetables of different colours with dinner e.g. green beans and carrots, spinach and butternut, peas and corn, broccoli and cauliflower. Stir-fry assorted vegetables such as cabbage, red & yellow peppers, baby marrow and mushrooms.
Eat dry beans, split-peas, lentils and soya regularly
These are high in roughage and contain protein, which keeps muscles strong.
Try to include these in meals instead of always eating animal proteins.
Tips on including these foods are:
• Add lentils or kidney beans to lean mince or stew
• Have baked beans on toast for an easy breakfast or lunch
• Try a 3-bean salad with your meal
• Try lentils or beans with vegetables as a stew
• Have soya mince with spaghetti or brown rice, or soy burgers
• You can also buy soya yoghurt and milk
Have milk, maas or yoghurt every day
Choose lower fat milk, maas, yoghurt and cheeses.
Use salt and food high in salt sparingly
Avoid cooking with salt. Avoid foods that contain a lot of salt, such as processed meat, packet crisps, packet soups and sauces. Limit the use of gravy powders and stock cubes, and flavour foods naturally with herbs, garlic, chillies, ginger, black pepper and lemon juice.
Use fat sparingly; choose vegetable oils rather than hard fats
Some fats are beneficial fats, like avocados (use them in salads, sandwiches or rolls), olive oil (on salads) and sunflower or canola oil for cooking. Other fats are not as healthy so use them only in small amounts, e.g. margarine, butter, cream, mayonnaise, salad cream and salad dressings.
Use sugar and food and drinks high in sugar sparingly
Add only a small amount to food and drinks, and try to reduce this over time, as you will get used to the taste. Limit the intake of cold drinks high in sugar.
Drink lots of clean, safe water
Water helps to move food through our bodies and removes waste products from the body. If you are unsure if your water source is safe, boil it before you drink it. Try to include 6 – 8 glasses of fluid per day - try to drink mostly water, but you can also include tea (especially rooibos & herbal teas), fruit juice and low fat or skim milk.
Being active keeps our bodies strong, helps control our weight and makes us feel great! Being overweight can increase our chances of developing some diseases like cancer, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.
You don’t always have to go to a gym – walking, taking the stairs everyday, swimming, cycling and any fun sports will help you to stay active.
And the last word on alcohol…..if you drink alcohol, drink sensibly
Drinking too much alcohol can damage your liver and lead to some cancers, high blood pressure and high blood fat levels. Women should not have more than one drink per day, and men should not have more than two drinks per day.
Give your body the best and follow these healthy guidelines!