Healthy eating is important for reducing your risk of further stroke. It affects a number of risk factors, e.g. too much salt in the diet increases blood pressure.
Obesity, being overweight or having too much body fat can also contribute to high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, kidney disease and some cancers.
The number of Australians who are overweight or obese has steadily increased in recent decades, to nearly 2 in 3 adults (63%), and 1 in 4 children (27%) aged 15–17 years (aihw.gov.au).
A healthy waist measurement should be less than 80 cm in women and less than 94 cm in men. These measurements are recommended for people from Caucasian backgrounds; if you’re from a different cultural background, speak with your doctor about your risk.
Control your risk
Enjoy a balanced diet by following the Australian Dietary Guidelines. They recommend you eat:
- Plenty of vegetables. Choose different types and colours. Eat legumes (peas, lentils and beans).
- Grain or cereal foods. Choose wholegrain and high-fibre types of bread, cereal, rice, pasta, noodles, polenta, couscous, oats, quinoa and barley.
- Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts ad seeds, peas, lentils and beans.
- Milk, yoghurt, cheese and their alternatives, mostly reduced fat.
You should also:
- Drink plenty of water.
- Limit intake of foods high in saturated fats.
- Limit foods with added salt and sugar.
- Limit salt to less than 4 grams each day (equivalent to 1600 mg of sodium). The maximum daily upper limit is 6 grams of salt (2300 mg of sodium), which is about a teaspoon.
- Prevent weight gain by being physically active and eating according to your energy needs.
General diet advice may not be suitable for everyone. Dietitians are a great source of individual advice to work out what is right for you.
If you are having difficulties keeping your weight within recommended levels, ask a doctor or dietitian for help.
Plan your weekly menu in advance and eat from the five food groups every day.
- Balance your diet – Mix it up with vegetables, fruit and grain, lean meats, poultry and fish, reduced fat milk and yoghurt.
- Substitute your snacks – Swap sweets for nuts or fresh fruit.
- Go fresh – Buy from markets or shop around the outside aisles of the supermarket. Drop the salt by checking the sodium content on packaged foods.
- Steer clear of sugary drinks – Drink plenty of water.
Read our fact sheet on Diet after stroke.