Healthy Eating Guide

Healthy Eating Guide

March 14, 2024

By Thandi Hallinan (RD)SA

This guide aims to provide simple quick guidelines to inspire wholesome eating and make it easy, emphasizing variety, moderation and enjoyment.


Eat less sugar, you are sweet enough!

Limiting the amount of added sugar in your diet can help you to lose weight and may help to prevent type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Eating less sugar will help with less cravings, healthier skin, better sleep and improved mental health.


Sugar in fruit

Whole fruit contains fibre, vitamins, minerals and some natural sugar. They are healthy alternatives to foods high in free sugars and fat. Pure fruit juices are often unsweetened, as the sugar comes naturally from the fruit.

However, free sugars are released during the juicing process, so intake should be limited to a small 150ml glass, once a day. This glass does count towards one of your 5-a-day of fruit and vegetables.


Strong heart beating comes with healthy eating

Less than 30 percent of your total energy intake – everything you eat – should be from fats. Certain fats are better for you while other fats should be.

Unsaturated fats (found in fish, avocado and nuts, and in sunflower, soybean, canola and olive oils) are preferable to saturated fats (found in fatty meat, butter, palm and coconut oil, cream and cheese). Saturated fat should make up less than 10 percent of daily total energy intake – everything you eat.

Decreasing the amount of fats we eat will help to prevent weight gain and decrease our risk for diseases of the lifestyle.

Healthy food, avo with nuts and celeray and sus

The first line of treatment for abnormal cholesterol levels is always a change in lifestyle including decreasing your intake of saturated fat and trans-fat. Your intake can be decreased by:

  • Steaming or boiling your food instead of frying it when cooking
  • Replacing butter and coconut oil with oils rich in polyunsaturated fats, for example, soybean, canola and sunflower oils
  • Choosing to eat low-fat dairy foods and lean meats as well as removing visible fat from meat
  • Limiting intake of baked and fried foods, including pre-packaged snacks and food such as doughnuts, cakes, pies, cookies and biscuits that contain industrially produced trans-fats


Be less salty

Salt is made up of sodium and chloride. Sodium intake should be less than 2300 mg per day.

This is equivalent to less than 5g of salt per day, roughly one teaspoon.

Most of the population consumes too much sodium
through salt. On average, the population consumes
between an average of 9 – 12g of salt per day and
not enough potassium (less than 3.5g). High sodium
intake and insufficient potassium intake contribute
to high blood pressure, which increases the risk of
heart disease and stroke.

How can you decrease your salt intake?

  • Read product labels and choose items that have a lower sodium content
  • Limit your consumption of salty snacks
  • Don’t add additional salt to food and avoid high-sodium sauces
  • Limit the amount of salt and high sodium condiments used when cooking and preparing food, for example, soy sauce and salt-containing spices including stock.
Healthy Eating Guide

An apple a day keeps the doctor away

Vegetable and fruit intake should be between five and seven portions a day.

This equates to roughly 500g per day of prepared vegetables and fruit. This amount should exclude potatoes and sweet potatoes. Eating plenty of fruit and vegetables may reduce your risk for vegetables are very good sources of dietary fibre. Adults should be eating an average of 28g of items should be shown on the ingredient label. Fruit and vegetables are also good sources of vitamins and


Ways to improve your fruit and vegetable intake:

  • Always include vegetables in your meals
  • Choose to eat fresh fruit, dried fruit (limit) and raw vegetables as snacks
  • Choose fruit and vegetables that are in season as they should be less expensive and tastier
  • Eat a variety of fruit and vegetables
  • Frozen and canned vegetables act as a good limited
  • Fruit juice or a fruit-containing smoothie can for the day – limit to 150ml in total per day


Rethink your drink

Remember that you take in energy (KJ) through both what you eat as well as what you drink! Sugary drinks pack in as many kilojoules as food, you up or provide the nutrients that your body needs. water per day. Remember to increase the amount water, when working in the sun or doing physical work, when you do strenuous exercise or when you are not well (fever, diarrhoea, vomiting).

eating healthy guide

Calories – Intake vs output

Calories in refers to the amount of calories you get from the foods and drinks you eat, while calories out refers to the number of calories you use. If we eat more calories than we burn, our bodies store these calories and this results in weight gain.

The amount of calories you should be eating depends on a number of factors including your current weight, your height, the amount of exercise and the type of work you do, your gender etc.


Get the power of whole grains

Eat wholewheat pasta, brown bread and brown rice as these are high in fibre and will keep you fuller for longer. Avoid white pasta, white bread, and white rice.


Lean green plant eating machine

Plant-Based Eating is a way of eating that emphasises vegetables, fruits, grains, beans and legumes over animal-based products. Plant-based sources of protein include lentils, beans etc), peas, quinoa, soy milk, spinach, oatmeal, chickpeas and even brown rice, whole wheat bread and peanut butter to name a few. Incorporate these items daily into your balanced plant-based meals and you should have no


Eat right and feel great – Make portion control a lifestyle

Make sure you eat a balanced meal which includes vegetables, wholewheat starch (brown pasta, brown rice, potatoes with skin on or sweet potato etc) and protein (skinless chicken, fish, lean red meat etc) as well as fruit and low fat


Eat healthy, be nutrient wealthy – Variety is the spice of life

Eating a variety of food is important as it helps to ensure that all the nutrients needed by the body to be healthy, and function correctly are supplied. Following a healthy lifestyle with a good eating plan, regular physical activity, management of promoting health, preventing, and managing chronic diseases and increasing energy and productivity.

Healthier food and drink options:

  • Water should be your first choice – drink about 8 glasses of water a day
  • Low fat milk and yoghurt
  • Grilled food rather than fried food
  • Plenty of fruit and vegetables
  • 100% Fruit juice
  • Low-energy (Light/Zero/Diet) fizzy drinks
  • Choose brown bread rather than white bread
  • Limit the amount of sugar you eat/drink and add to food and drinks


‘Junk’ food comparison

There are 42 Calories or 176.4 KJ and 10.6g of sugar per 100 ml of Coca-Cola Original Taste versus water which contains 0 calories and 0g of sugar.

Did you know?

10.6 grams of sugar amounts to 2 teaspoons of sugar per 100ml of Coke. In an average 355ml can of Coke, there is 37.63 grams of sugar, which amounts to approximately 8 teaspoons of sugar.

An example of a Homemade Burger, which contains two lean beef patties, topped with cheese and on a bun, contains 351.9 Calories, 23.8 g Total Fat and 0.6g Sugar versus a Big Mac from McDonald’s contains 550 Calories, 30 grams Fat and 9 grams of Sugar.

Healthy Eating Guide

Read to succeed – Get a taste for nutrition – Read the ingredient labels

When reading food labels, it is essential to know what the important items are to look for, mainly sugar, fats and salt.

It is important to control your intake of foods and beverages that are higher in added sugars, saturated fat and sodium (salt).

A moderate amount of sugar, fat or salt adds flavour to your food and may help to meet daily calorie recommendations but in general, should be limited.

Food labels are controlled by regulations stating which ingredients must be mentioned including allergens and sugar, fat and salt content.bReading food labels helps us to make healthier choices.

The nutrition panel on the back or side of a label will provide information per 100g and/or per portion, which means you can compare like-for-like products.


Exercise is the key to a healthy lifestyle

Begin slowly with some gentle exercise, like walking. Increase this gradually at a rate you are comfortable with. Your goal is 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day, five days a week. You do not need to complete the 30 minutes in one go! You can split the 30 minutes of exercise into 3 x 10 minutes of exercise, depending on your available time.

Healthy Eating Guide

Ways to increase your activity levels at work:

Employees should try to be as physically active as possible. The goal is to get up and move at regular intervals to prevent sitting without getting up for long periods of time.

Examples of what employees can do to be active
in the workplace:

  • Use the stairs rather than the lift
  • Stand up to stretch regularly
  • Walk to colleagues instead of calling or emailing them where possible
  • When possible, go for a walk during your break

Remember that nourishing our body lies not in stringent restrictions, but in embracing a balanced, colourful and mindful approach to food.

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