Tips for eating well

The recommendations in the Australian Dietary Guidelines and Australian Guide to Healthy Eating help us choose foods for good health and to reduce our risk of chronic health problems.

If we are carrying extra weight, the Australian Dietary Guidelines can also help us lose weight. They steer us towards foods that are high in nutrients but lower in kilojoules. These choices are nutrient dense but less energy dense and helpful for both achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.

People wanting to lose weight will also find this information useful for planning meals and snacks. Following the recommended number of serves from the Five Food Groups and avoiding the discretionary foods will result in a gradual but healthy weight loss for most people. However, some people, particularly younger men and people who are taller than average or more active, may need additional serves of the five food groups.

You can also check by taking the ‘Are you eating for health?’ quiz in the Dietary Guidelines Summary Booklet.

Eating Regularly

It’s essential for weight control and especially weight loss, to recognise and act on the feedback your body gives you about when and how much you need to eat. However it’s also important to aim for a regular eating pattern of meals, or meals and mid meals.

A planned pattern of eating is more likely to include the recommended number of serves from the five food groups. A spontaneous, unstructured eating pattern is more likely to include too many discretionary foods which means too much saturated fat, added sugars, added salt and kilojoules at the expense of fibre and important nutrients.

Don't skip breakfast?

Breakfast skippers are more likely to be tempted by unplanned discretionary choices during the morning and large serves at the next meal or snack. Just think of how yummy those large baked muffins look at morning tea if you’ve missed breakfast!

People who regularly eat a breakfast based on wholegrain cereal or bread, low fat milk or yogurt and maybe some fruit or vegetables are much more likely to be eating well and lose weight than those who skip breakfast.

Eat with other people not TV

We also know that people who eat with others and eat at the dining table, are more likely to eat regularly and eat well than those who eat alone or in front of the TV. Meals with others tend to include more foods from the five food groups. For example, people often report that they can’t be bothered cooking vegetables just for themselves.

Television watching is associated with eating more discretionary choices like take-away or convenience foods and fewer foods from the five foods. It also makes it much more difficult to recognise and respond to our body’s signals about hunger and satiety.

Good meal planning and making healthy choices can sometimes be tricky but a few useful tips can make it easier.

Image of a family eating to illustrate eating with other people not in front of the TV.

More information on this topic:

Eating away from home

Choosing nutritious foods

Healthy eating on a budget

Food shopping tips

How to add variety to your diet

Quick and easy meals

Meal Planning

Tips for losing weight healthily

Low fat cooking techniques

Healthy meal and snack ideas