What to eat?

The best diet is the one you stick with, because it fits your broad food preferences and culture.

The Five for Life approach can be applied to any diet provided it emphasises vegetables (especially greens), includes sufficient protein and ‘good’ fat, and limits sugar and other refined carbs.

To reduce weight safely and permanently, focus on these four principles:

Eat a lot more greens and other non-starchy vegetables. Whatever you like! Salad leaves, broccoli, zucchini, cauliflower, capsicum, tomatoes, green beans and the rest. These foods are high in fibre, vitamins, minerals and trace elements. Add fermented vegetables like sauerkraut and kimchi, too.

Eat plenty of protein and fat (unprocessed). It’s essential for good health to get enough protein every day. Meat, poultry, fish and eggs are concentrated sources of protein, as are pulses such as chickpeas, dried beans, lentils and soy. It’s also important to have enough fat from healthy, unprocessed sources. Get most of your fat from vegetables (e.g. raw nuts and seeds, avocado, olives), cold-pressed olive oil and other cold-pressed oils, and fish. It’s fine to have some fats from animal sources too, such as eggs, meat, butter and cheese.

Reduce carbs. Unprocessed carbs like starchy vegetables (e.g. potatoes, sweet potato, sweet corn and pumpkin), fruit and whole grains (e.g. rolled oats, quinoa and wild rice) are good for us in smaller amounts, but they offer little that we don’t get from non-starchy vegetables, or from fat and protein sources. What they do add are extra calories in the form of sugars and starch. We need carbs in our diet, but not much.

Cut right down, or cut out, processed carbs, sugar, fillers and fake food. This includes ‘danger zone’ food, designed to keep us wanting more even if we aren’t hungry. I’m not just talking about highly processed foods and added sugar, but also carbs made from refined flours – cakes, biscuits, pastries, and most breads, pasta and breakfast cereal.

To make this even simpler, 5 for Life uses a traffic light system. You can download it from the button below.

Just work on gradually moving most of your eating into the green zone or amber zones, and much less in the red zone or danger zone. Small steps – there’s no rush!


Eating more vegetables, especially greens, is essential to reaching and staying at your ideal weight. Learn more here.


Protein is an essential tool for reducing weight while staying healthy and not feeling hungry or deprived. Getting enough protein every day is a key part of the Five for Life approach to the ‘what’ of eating habits. Learn more here.


We need to eat fat for a whole range of reasons but The most important thing about fats is to have them natural, not processed. Learn more here.

What about carbs

All starches, all sugars (including natural sugar in fruit, milk, and some vegetables) and all fibre are carbs. Carbs in sugars and starches are a quick energy source, as they’re rapidly converted into glucose that we can use immediately for energy. Learn more here.