Eating well

Sometimes the demands of caring can make it difficult to focus on eating a variety of healthy foods and having a well-balanced diet.

Food and eating are an important part of the way we live our lives. A good diet will improve your physical health and give you the strength and stamina.

A relaxed meal with others will also improve your social and emotional wellbeing.

Choose a balanced and varied diet

A well balanced diet includes all the nutrients our bodies need to function properly. It will include foods from each of the five major food groups:

• Cereals such as bread, cereals, rice, pasta and noodles, preferably wholegrain
• Vegetables and legumes*
• Fruit
• Dairy products such as milk, yoghurt and cheese
• Lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts and legumes

Legumes, also known as pulses, include foods such as baked beans, chickpeas and lentils.
It is important to eat a variety of foods from each group. Each food group is rich in different types of nutrients and different foods within each group provide more of some nutrients than others.

Try to eat plenty of plant foods (vegetables, legumes, fruit, cereal, rice and pasta), moderate amounts of animal foods (meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy products) and small amounts of foods containing sugars, salt and oils.

 

Reduce fats, salts and sugar

Adult diets should be low in fat although some types of fat are better for you than others.

  • Saturated fats are found in red meat, poultry and dairy products and most commercially baked and deep-fried fast foods. They are easily deposited as fat tissue and can contribute to high blood cholesterol levels so try to reduce your intake.
  • Polyunsaturated and mono-unsaturated fats are found in fish and seafood, plant-based oils like olive or sunflower oil, avocados and nuts. They are thought to have some health benefits when eaten in small amounts as part of a healthy diet. Use them to replace saturated fats in your diet as much as you can.

A diet high in salt may contribute to a range of health problems, including high blood pressure. Try to reduce the amount of salt you add to your food and choose reduced or no salt versions of tinned and packaged foods.

Too much sugar can lead to problems such as dental decay and is associated with excess weight gain. Try to reduce your intake of sugar by limiting foods like biscuits, cakes, lollies and desserts as well as sugary drinks such as fruit juice and soft drink.

Read the labels

Take the time to read the Nutrition Information Panel on food products so you know what the food you are buying contains.

Look for products with lower kilojoule (energy) content and the least amount of saturated fat, total fat and sodium (salt). Use the ‘per 100g’ column to compare different products so you can choose the healthier option.

Drink plenty of water

You need fresh supplies of water every day for most of your body functions. You become dehydrated when the water content of your body becomes too low. Dehydration can cause headaches, weakness and tiredness. It can also lead to mood changes and cause you to react more slowly to things.

Try to drink six to eight 150 ml glasses of fluid every day, including water, tea, juice and milk.

Coffee and alcohol can contribute to dehydration, so you should not count these drinks as part of your recommended daily intake.

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Carers NSW acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land, Elders past and present and all Aboriginal people.