Eating healthy

What you cook and how you cook is as important as healthy eating. Healthy cooking does not mean food is bland or boring. Choose cooking methods like grilling and pan-frying and season food with herbs and spices instead of salty, processed ingredients.

Guidelines for healthy eating

What you cook and how you cook is as important as healthy eating. Healthy cooking does not mean food is bland or boring. Choose cooking methods like grilling and pan-frying and season food with herbs and spices instead of salty, processed ingredients. Take care not to overcook food to retain the natural flavours.

  • Enjoy a variety of foods. Eating different types of food gives your body all the nutrients it needs. The more colourful your plate of food, the wider the variety.
  • Make high-fibre starchy foods part of most meals. These foods can help you feel fuller for longer and lower your risk of developing obesity, heart disease and cancer. Good examples are brown or wholewheat bread, coarse maize (mealie) meal, oats and brown rice.
  • Chicken, fish, meat or eggs can be eaten every day. Choose lean or lower fat options with less bad (saturated) fats. Bad fats can increase your cholesterol and block your blood vessels, which can lead to a stroke or heart attack. Try to include tinned or fresh fish as part of your diet at least twice a week. Good examples are pilchards, snoek, sardines or tuna.
  • Try to have low-fat milk, maas or yoghurt every day. Dairy products are an excellent source of calcium. This can help protect your bones and help prevent high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. Good options are low-fat or fat-free dairy products and reduced-fat cheeses.
  • Eat dried beans, split peas, lentils or soya at least twice a week. They are a good source of protein, low in fat and high in fibre. You can replace meat in some meals with these foods.
  • Try to eat 5 vegetables and fruit every day. Remember to eat vegetables and fruit from the different colour groups (red, green, yellow and orange). The vitamins, minerals and fibre in these foods help to protect you against chronic diseases.
  • Eat less salt and avoid foods high in salt. Eating too much salt can raise your blood pressure and increase your risk of stroke, heart attack and cancer. Some salt in your diet comes from salt added at the table or during cooking, but more than half of the salt that you eat comes from processed foods. Examples are stock cubes, soup powders, salty snacks like chips and processed meats like polony. Ideally, you shouldn’t have more than 1 teaspoon of salt a day from all sources. Gradually cut down on adding salt to your food and soon you won’t notice the difference.
  • Eat less fat and use the right type of fats or oils. Eating too much fat and fried food can make you gain weight and increase your cholesterol. Limit the amount of fatty red meat, butter, hard margarine, cream, lard and ghee that you use. Rather use good (unsaturated) fats like vegetable oils and soft tub margarine in small amounts. Nuts, seeds, peanut butter and avocados are also sources of good fats.
  • Eat less sugar and avoid food or drinks high in sugar. Too much sugar can make you gain weight, which increases your risk of chronic diseases. Sugar in your diet comes from sugar added to hot drinks, cereals and cooking. High amounts of sugar are also found in cakes, biscuits, doughnuts, sweets, chocolates and sweetened cold drinks.
  • Drink plenty of clean, safe water every day. You need about 6-8 glasses of water a day. Most of this should come from tap water, but can include drinks like tea, coffee or diluted fruit juice as well.
  • If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation. Women should not have more than 1 drink a day and men not more than 2 drinks a day. One drink is equal to a can of beer (340 ml) or a small glass of wine (120 ml) or a tot of spirits (25 ml). Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not drink any alcohol at all, as it is very dangerous for the baby.
  • What you cook and how you cook it is as important as healthy eating. Healthy cooking does not mean food is bland or boring. Choose cooking methods like grilling and pan-frying and season food with herbs and spices instead of salty, processed ingredients. Take care not to overcook food to retain the natural flavours.
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