What is healthy eating?

Healthy eating means having enough healthy food and drinks in your diet, but not eating too much. It also means eating a wide variety of healthy foods and avoiding unhealthy foods and drinks.


Learn more about healthy eating on our health topic page.

What helps you to eat well?

Many complex things influence the food choices we make each day, and over our lifetime, and they’re important to consider when you’re supporting a partner to eat better. These include hunger, appetite, taste, income, accessibility, education, skills, time, culture, family, peers, mood, stress, health status and knowledge. Some of these things we can control, and some we can’t, but everyone is capable of making changes to improve their nutrition. Most people understand the importance of a balanced diet for staying healthy, but not many people actually eat as well as they should.

The Australian Dietary Guidelines provide recommendations about what we should eat, and how much, to be healthy. Most Australians do not meet the guidelines. For example, for Australians aged 19-50 years:

  • 2% of males and 4% of women eat enough vegetables and legumes
  • 26% of males and 20% of females eat enough fruit
  • 35% of males and 8% of females eat enough grains and cereals
  • 17% of males and 5% of females eat enough healthy protein
  • 14% of men and 6% of women eat enough dairy (or alternatives)
  • Around 1/3 of the energy in the diets of males and females comes from unnecessary foods that are high in sugar, fat, salt or energy

What your partner could be feeling

If your partner isn’t eating well, they might feel the health effects of poor nutrition but not even know it.  A poor diet contributes to things like coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, some forms of cancer, type 2 diabetes and dental problems. The food you eat can affect your mood, mental health, sleep, energy, immunity and more.  

One of the most valuable things that Australian males can do for their health is to improve their diet. Whether your partner knows they need to eat a bit better or they’ve got their head in the sand — making healthy food changes isn’t always an easy task when less-than-ideal options are readily available, affordable and easily over-consumed. Fad diets, food trends, and misinformation can make things more confusing. But it can be done. 

What you could be feeling

It’s natural to be concerned about your partner’s health and how their food choices might be affecting it. Not only because you care about them but because their diet can affect your own. 

What to do about healthy eating

Partners, family members and/or peer group members can influence the food choices of boys, adolescent males and men. This means that there’s an opportunity for people who live with, care for, or support boys and men, to have a positive impact on their diets. Making healthy behaviour changes can be more successful for couples than individuals, but even programs focused on women can have beneficial effects for their husbands.

But drop the guilt trips and scare tactics — leading by example is your best bet. Some other tips include:

  • Get familiar with the Australian Dietary Guidelines
  • Speak with your partner about how you both might eat, together, in a more healthy way
  • If you’re responsible for the regular food shop, limit the purchase of unnecessary foods
  • Discuss with your partner how you might both replace unnecessary foods with healthy foods (e.g. swap out potato chips for nuts, replace red meet with fish)
  • Cook together and get creative in the kitchen
  • Add more nutritious foods to your plate, crowding out others, rather than restricting them
  • Overall, make small changes, slowly

If you’re a parent, you and your partner are the most influential people when it comes to your children’s diets, with your own diet quality related to that of your kids. So you can have a positive influence simply by looking after yourself.


Learn more about healthy eating on our health topic page.

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