Eating and Activity Guidelines

What and how much you eat and drink, and being physically active are important for good health.

Guideline statements for New Zealand adults

Eating statements

  1. Enjoy a variety of nutritious foods every day including:
    • plenty of vegetables and fruit
    • grain foods, mostly whole grain and those naturally high in fibre
    • some milk and milk products, mostly low and reduced fat
    • some legumes, nuts, seeds, fish and other seafood, eggs, poultry (eg, chicken) and/or red meat* with the fat removed.
    • * If choosing red meat, eat less than 500 g of cooked red meat a week.
  2. Choose and/or prepare foods and drinks:
    • with unsaturated fats instead of saturated fats
    • that are low in salt (sodium); if using salt, choose iodised salt
    • with little or no added sugar
    • that are mostly ‘whole’ and less processed.
  3. Make plain water your first choice over other drinks.
  4. If you drink alcohol, keep your intake low. Stop drinking alcohol if you could be pregnant, are pregnant or are trying to get pregnant. When breastfeeding, it is best to be alcohol-free.
  5. Buy or gather, prepare, cook and store food in ways that keep it safe to eat. Take extra care to protect yourself from foodborne illness if you are pregnant.
  6. Encourage, support and promote breastfeeding.

Activity statements

  1. Sit less, move more! Break up long periods of sitting.
  2. Do at least 2 ½ hours of moderate or 1 ¼ hours of vigorous physical activity spread throughout the week. Pregnant women should aim to do 2½ hours of moderate-intensity physical activity spread over at least 3 days per week (preferably some activity every day).
  3. For extra health benefits, aim for 5 hours of moderate or 2 ½ hours of vigorous physical activity spread throughout the week. Pregnant women should seek advice from a health care professional if competing in events or if exercising significantly more than Activity Statement 2.
  4. Do muscle strengthening activities on at least 2 days each week. Pregnant women may also benefit from doing stretching and pelvic floor muscle training daily.
  5. Doing some physical activity is better than doing none. All pregnant women without serious health conditions should be regularly physically active through a variety of aerobic and resistance activities.

Body weight statement

Making good choices about what you eat and drink and being physically active are also important to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. Being a healthy weight:

  • helps you to stay active and well
  • reduces your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.

If you are struggling to maintain a healthy weight, see your doctor and/or your community health care provider.

When you are pregnant, talk to your midwife or doctor about the right amount of weight to gain during pregnancy. This amount is different for each person.

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