Is your diet in need of a makeover?

As the saying goes, you are what you eat. The food and drink you put into your body have a big effect on your overall health and wellbeing, so it's never too late to start paying more attention to what's fuelling your body.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), more than nine in 10 people aged 16 years and older don't have the minimum amount of vegetables in their diet. In addition to this, one in four children have an unhealthy body weight and six in 10 adults are either overweight or obese.

With the plethora of healthy recipes available today and the information we have about what constitutes a healthy diet, there's no reason why you can't create a diet plan that will benefit your body.

What goes into a healthy diet?

The National Health and Medical Research Council, together with the Department of Health and Ageing, have developed a guide to healthy eating that everyone can follow.

According to this guide, there are five different food groups that make up a healthy diet. The two groups you should be getting most of your nutrients from include vegetables, legumes and beans and grain foods such as wholegrain and high fibre products. Think leafy green vegetables like spinach, broccoli, silver beet and lettuce and wholegrain varieties of bread, muesli and other cereal foods.

The other three food groups should make up smaller portions of your diet, but they're still important for getting nutrients into your body. These include lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs and tofu; fruit; and milk, yoghurt and cheese products. Not surprisingly, the guide recommends other items such as processed food, sugary lollies and alcohol be consumed only in small amounts and infrequently.

Taking care of yourself

Putting the right kind of fuel into your body can have a positive impact on your health and wellbeing.

Further research from the AIHW shows that chronic diseases related to dietary issues such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some types of cancers are still one of the leading causes of death and disability in Australia. With a varied, nutritious and healthy diet you can boost your energy levels naturally, and lower your cholesterol and blood pressure levels by limiting your intake of foods high in salt or saturated fat content. However, if you do require medical care a health insurance policy can be essential in helping to cover the cost of certain treatments.

Different policies will offer different levels of hospital and extras cover. It's important to compare different health insurance providers to determine what you can get as different policies may not cover or they may offer different levels of benefit for certain treatments and procedures.

Establishing healthy eating habits

Changing your diet for the better can start with small steps, such as swapping out your go-to junk food for healthy snacks such as fruit and nuts to give you a natural burst of energy. A quick browse of cookbooks, magazines and online sites will find plenty of healthy dinner recipes that are relatively easy and will ensure you get your helping of vegetables, protein and vitamins.

The key to healthier eating lies in being more conscious of what you consume. By looking at your eating habits now, seeing where small changes can be made and sticking to these healthier alternatives, you can slowly change your diet for the better.

These articles are provided as reference material to allow more informed decision making, but are not intended as being a complete source of information on any topic. All readers should make their own independent analysis on the topic to make sure they have considered the aspects that are important to them.