Mealtimes and eating habits are to a great extent culturally determined and individual. You should eat at regular intervals every day, for example breakfast, lunch and dinner, and one or two snacks if necessary. Regular meals keep your blood glucose levels stable, control the feeling of hunger, support weight management and protect your teeth from decay. They also help you eat in moderation at each meal and reduce the temptation to have extra snacks.
Add more vegetables, legumes, fruit and berries to your diet! You should eat at least 500 g, or from five to six portions a day, of vegetables, fruit, berries and mushrooms. One portion means one medium-sized piece of fruit, 100 ml of berries or 150 ml of salads or grated vegetables. Of this amount, about one half should consist of berries and fruit and the rest of vegetables. Some of these should be eaten uncooked, while others should be used as ingredients in cooked foods.
Vegetables, berries and fruit contain plenty of fibre, vitamins and minerals as well as other useful compounds. Legume vegetables, or beans, lentils and peas, contain relatively high quantities of protein and serve as a good protein source in the diet for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Plant-based protein is also an environmentally friendly choice.
You should eat fish two to three times a week, using a variety of different species in turn. Fish is an excellent source of protein, polyunsaturated fats and vitamin D.
Nuts and seeds are good sources of unsaturated fat. You can have some 30 g (two tablespoonfuls) a day, or 200–250 g a week, of unsalted nuts that are not covered with sugar or other coatings, almonds and seeds (e.g. sunflower, sesame and pumpkin seeds and pine nuts).
Whole grain cereal products contain less energy than foods made from white flour. Whole grain products are rich in fibre and more nutrient dense than refined grains. The recommended daily intake of cereal products is some six portions for women and nine for men. At least one half of this amount should be whole grain cereals. A portion means 100 ml of cooked whole grain pasta, barley or rice or some other whole grain side dish, or one slice of bread. A bowl of porridge, for example, equals two portions.
Your weekly intake of meat products and red meat should not exceed 500 g. This amount refers to cooked foods and corresponds to 700–750 g of raw meat. One portion of fish or meat, when cooked, weighs some 100–150 g. Poultry meat is low in fat, and poultry fat is better in quality than beef or lamb fat. Meat is high in easily absorbed iron. When eating red meat (beef, lamb and pork), you should selected cuts that are as lean as possible, and your meat products should also be as low in salt as possible.
Your need of liquids is individual. It is influenced by such factors as your level of physical activity, the ambient temperature and your age. Most people get enough liquids if they drink when thirsty. The reference intake of all beverages is 1-1.5 litres a day, in addition to liquids contained in foods. You are advised to drink water, mineral water, or milk or buttermilk that contain no more than 1% of fat with your meals. You should avoid having sugary drinks regularly, as they are associated with obesity and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. A high intake of sugary drinks also affects your dental health.