What you can do yourself

Healthy eating boils down to making the right choice from the wide selection of available foods. We have provided some tips to help you out.

1. Do eat what you like

Do not eat healthy foods you dislike. You won't be able to keep it up and it's also really not necessary. It is always possible to have a tasty meal that is also healthy. What's more, don't think you can never have that deliciously unhealthy burger: a snack every now and then won't harm you if you do generally have a healthy diet.

2. Eat varied meals

You need a healthy diet to obtain all the nutrients the body needs: carbons, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, fibres and fluids. No one single product contains all these nutrients in a sufficient amount. By eating varied meals you ensure that you obtain all the required nutrients.

So make sure you eat one product from all of the below four food groups each day:

  • bread, potatoes, rice, pasta, legumes;
  • vegetables and fruits;
  • milk, dairy products, cheese, meat, fish, chicken, tofu;
  • margarine, low-fat margarine, oil.

Required daily intake for adults:

  • 5-7 slices of bread
  • 5 grams of low-fat margarine per slice of bread
  • 1-2 slices of cheese
  • 1-2 cold cuts
  • 2-3 glasses of milk
  • 3-5 potatoes
  • 200 grams of vegetables
  • 100 grams of meat (or egg, fish, chicken, tofu or meat replacement)
  • 15 grams of margarine or oil to cook the hot meal
  • 2 pieces of fruit
  • at least 1.5 litres of fluid consumed as drinks

3. Mind the fat

Minding the fat in particular means going easy on the saturated fat. Saturated fat raises your blood cholesterol levels, which may result in cardiovascular conditions. So use low-fat margarine on your bread, opt for low-fat dairy products and meat, and go easy on the sweet and savoury snacks. When cooking, use sunflower or olive oil instead of butter. Or make use of a pan with a non-stick coating, a wok, a grill or the microwave: in all cases, you don't need much in the way of oil or margarine.

Eat fish instead of meat more often. Many types of fish are low in fat (e.g. cod and whiting), while the fat of fatty fish (mackerel, salmon, etc.) is unsaturated.

4. Eat plenty of vegetables, fruit and fibres

Vegetables and fruit are the main sources of vitamins, minerals and fibres. In addition, eating more vegetables and fruit helps reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancer. No more than 200 grams of vegetables and 2 pieces of fruit are required. Other foods containing a lot of fibres include whole-grain bread, potatoes, legumes, (whole-grain) pasta and (hulled) rice.

5. Go easy on the salt

Salt raises blood pressure. It's better to season your meal with herbs and spices.

6. Drink plenty of fluids, but go easy on the alcohol

Drink at least a litre and a half of fluids each day. Water, milk, (herbal) tea, yoghurt, soup, juices are all fine. However, do not drink more than 2-3 units of alcohol per day, as an excess of alcohol may increase the blood pressure.

7. Keep track of your weight

As being overweight may lead to all sorts of health complaints, it's important to keep track of your weight. The best way to do this is to eat a varied diet that's low on fat, sugar and alcohol, while getting plenty of exercise.

8. Read the labels

If you want to mind what you eat, read the labels. They list, for instance, the amount of saturated and unsaturated fat in the product.

More information

The following sites provide you with more information on healthy eating: