Eating a healthy and balanced diet is vital to help maintain a healthy weight and to help prevent a range of diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.
New National Healthy Eating Guidelines and a revised Food Pyramid which apply for everyone from 5 years of age upwards were published in 2016. These ‘Healthy Food for Life’ resources, which include meal planners for people of different ages as well as guidelines on portion sizes, can help you and your family make some simple changes to eat healthier.
Following the Guidelines and Food Pyramid doesn’t mean that you need to achieve balance with every meal, but aim to get the balance right over the day and over the week. Small changes can make a big difference.
Some key changes you can make include:
- Eat more vegetables, salad and fruit – aim to get to 5-7 servings a day, more is better!
- Limit your intake of food and drinks that are high fat, sugar, or salt
- Portion size matters: use the food pyramid as a guide for serving sizes
- Cook with as little fat or oil as possible – grilling, oven-baking, steaming, boiling or stir-frying are better
- Drink more water
- Remember children aged 9-18 need extra calcium and dairy for their growing bones
Support for Parents
Parenting is tough and trying to make healthy changes for your family can feel like a daily struggle, especially when it comes to healthy eating. But there are small daily wins that you can do that can make a big difference to your children’s health, now and for the rest of their lives.
Children are more successful at making changes when the whole family do it together and the children are involved in making the healthy changes.
START is a new campaign, developed with parents, to support parents and carers of children to make small changes in their daily lives help their children to a healthier life, including keeping them to a healthy weight.
There is lots of advice, tips and support available at makeastart.ie
Healthy Eating Resources
Lots of further information on using the Food Pyramid, meal planners and tips for healthier eating available from the HSE.
Safefood is an all-island body which supports the work of Healthy Ireland and provides a range of information on healthy eating, food safety, meal planning, healthy recipes and more.
RTE’s Operation Transformation series supports and encourages people all over the country to achieve a healthier weight, get moving and eat well. You will find food and fitness plans, as well as lots of motivation and encouragement and ideas how to get yourself, your community or your work-place involved.
If you’re expecting a baby, and considering breastfeeding to give them the very best start in life, there is lots of support and information available from the HSE breastfeeding experts
Alcohol has calories too, so if you want to have a healthier diet or are trying to keep to a healthy weight, it’s good to know the facts about counting alcohol calories and making healthier choices.
‘A Healthy Weight for Ireland’, the National Obesity Policy and Action Plan aims to reverse obesity trends, to prevent health complications and reduce the overall burden for individuals, families, the health system and the wider society and economy.