Nutrition

Nutrition plays an important role in your daily life. A well balanced diet is essential to achieving peak physical and mental performance, whilst maintaining a healthy weight and preventing chronic disease.

Nutrition

This is achieved through its effects on energy stores, hydration status, nutrient sufficiency, body composition, injury prevention, recovery, immune system function, well-being and sustaining morale. There is growing evidence to suggest good nutrition is essential for mental health and that a number of mental health conditions are influenced by dietary factors.

General Healthy Eating

Eating a variety of food is recommended for good health and peak physical and mental performance.  Focus on whole-foods that are minimally processed and don’t have lengthy ingredient lists.  In other words the closer a food is to its natural state – the better. 

What?

Why?

How?

Vegetables and Fruit

Provide carbohydrate, fibre, vitamins and minerals.

Dried fruit, fruit juice and canned fruit in syrup are not recommended because they are high in sugar.

Dietary fibre is essential for optimal function of the gut and is associated with risk reduction for a number of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, some cancers and type 2 diabetes.

Make half your lunch and dinner non-starchy vegetables.

Fruit and vegetable sticks are good snack foods.

Choose well-washed, fresh and frozen vegetables and fruit that are raw or lightly cooked.

Eat a range of different coloured vegetables and fruit.

Meat, Chicken, Fish, Seafood, Eggs and Legumes

Provide protein, vitamins and minerals.

Meat, chicken and fish are good sources of iron.

Legumes are high in fibre.

Fish and seafood are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which have cardiovascular benefits and may improve mood and resistance to stress.

Aim for at least two serves of fish and/or seafood per week.

Oily fish provide more omega-3 fatty acids, such as tuna, kahawai, salmon, sardines, eel and mussels.

Legumes include cooked dried beans and peas, e.g. kidney beans, chickpeas and lentils.

Legumes can be eaten instead of meat or mixed into a dish so less meat is used.

Limit processed meats such as ham, salami, bacon and sausages.

Boiled eggs make a great portable snack option.

Wholegrain Bread, Cereals, Grains and Starchy Vegetables

Provide carbohydrate, fibre, vitamins and minerals.

If you choose to eat bread, cereals and grains, choose wholegrain and high fibre options.

Balance your intake from this group with your activity levels each day.

Minimise intake of refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, rice and pasta; baked products, such as biscuits, cakes, scones and muffins; processed breakfast cereals, crackers and muesli bars.  These are typically high in calories with limited nutritional value.

High fibre grains include quinoa, barley, oats and rye.

Starchy vegetables include potato, kumara, corn, taro, yams and green banana.

Milk and Milk Products

Provide protein, vitamins and minerals, including calcium.

If you can not drink cow’s milk, choose a milk alternative with added calcium.

Choose plain, unflavoured milk and yoghurt.

Nuts, Seeds and Healthy Oils

Fats are important to meet energy needs, supply essential fatty acids and absorb fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K). 

Different types of nuts and seeds have slightly different nutrition profiles.

Choose mostly unsaturated fats such as olive oil, avocado, nuts, seeds and their oils and/or butters, e.g. peanut butter.

Plain, unsalted nuts and seeds are great snack foods or ideal sprinkled on the top of salads and vegetables.

See the Ministry of Health ‘Eating and Activity Guidelines for New Zealand Adults’(external link)for more information.

Hydration

Maintaining hydration is important for peak performance and good health.  Fluid requirements are individualised and influenced by a number of environmental factors and physical demands. 

Make plain water your first choice.  Plain milk is also good and provides protein and calcium.

Sugar sweetened beverages include fizzy drinks, energy drinks, flavoured waters, fruit juices, cordials, sports drinks, flavoured milks and breakfast drinks.  They are very high in calories, have limited nutritional value and in particular, they contain large amounts of sugar.  They increase risk of tooth decay and are linked to obesity and type 2 diabetes. 

Further information

If you want to find out more about healthy eating, nutrition and also sports nutrition, the websites in the sidebar may be helpful.