Healthy eating: what is a healthy diet?

A balanced diet makes your body more resilient and enhances mental wellbeing. You won't need to worry about your weight if you enjoy sugary and fatty foods in moderation. A balanced lifestyle – a healthy diet, regular exercise and taking time to relax – also reduces the risk of chronic illnesses like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular problems and joint pain. Be inspired by our healthy eating tips.


What does a balanced diet look like?
Vegetables and fruit – 5 portions a day of different colours
  • 3 portions of vegetables (1 portion = min. 120g vegetables as an accompaniment, salad or soup) per day.
  • 2 portions of fruit (1 portion = min. 120g = 1 "handful") per day.
  • 1 portion per day can be replaced by 200ml of unsweetened fruit or vegetable juice.
Cereals, potatoes and pulses – 3 portions a day
  • When eating cereal products, try to stick to wholegrain (1 portion = 125g bread/100g pulses (dry weight)/300g potatoes/75g oats/pasta/rice)
Dairy products and protein – 3 portions a day
  • 3 portions of milk/dairy products (1 portion = 200ml milk/150–200g yoghurt or quark/40–50g cheese) per day.
  • Additionally, 1 portion of meat, poultry, fish, eggs or tofu (1 portion = 120g meat or fish/2–3 eggs) per day, but not the same every day.
Oils, fats and nuts – a moderate amount every day
  • 2–3 tablespoons (20–30g) vegetable oil per day, of which at least half in the form of rapeseed oil.
  • 1 portion (20–30g) unsalted nuts, seeds or kernels per day.
  • In addition, butter, margarine, cream, etc. may be used sparingly (about 1 tablespoon = 10g per day)
Sweet and salty foods and alcohol – enjoy in moderation
  • Sweets, snacks and sweetened drinks (e.g. soft drinks, iced tea, energy drinks) should be enjoyed in moderation.
  • Alcoholic drinks should be consumed with meals.
  • A moderate amount of salt should be used on food.
Drink plenty throughout the day
  • Drink 1–2 litres – preferably unsweetened drinks – a day (water, fruit or herbal teas).
What should you be mindful of?
  • You should eat 3–5 meals a day.
  • If you often feel hungry or even tend to get hunger pangs from time to time, five smaller meals are ideal.
  • If you have trouble stopping eating, then three larger meals would be preferable.
  • Avoid snacking between meals.
  • Listen to what your body is saying: eat when you feel hungry and stop when you feel full. Take your time and enjoy your food. Your body needs time to realise that it is full.
  • Enjoy fatty or sugary sauces, sweets or sausages in moderation. They contain a lot of energy and unnecessary calories.
  • If possible, choose products that are fresh and in season. They have a high vitamin content.
How can you maintain a heart-healthy diet?
Mediterranean food – cook with your heart for your heart

Mediterranean cuisine offers a good basis for a heart-healthy diet:

  • Fibre-rich foods in the form of fresh and seasonal vegetables, salads and fruits
  • Carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, potatoes and white beans (whole-grain products are preferable, as they contain valuable nutrients and ensure that you feel full for longer)
  • Unsaturated fatty acids such as vegetable fats in the form of olive oil or rapeseed oil, as well as a handful of nuts per day
  • White meat (in particular poultry) and 1–2 portions of fish per week
  • Fresh herbs for flavouring
  • Lots of water or unsweetened tea (one glass of red wine per day is allowed)
  • Reduced salt and animal products (processed meat and sausages)

Don't forget to add a pinch of Mediterranean ease, take time to prepare your food and enjoy in comfort. This will already go a long way to a healthy, Mediterranean lifestyle.

Make sure that you find a balance between flavour, energy intake and energy consumption.

How useful is dieting?

All too often, diets don't do what they claim to do. Often, the pounds you lost are back again after only a few weeks, and you might well end up with a few more, too. It's called the yo-yo effect.

Losing weight without the yo-yo effect.

The reason behind the "yo-yo effect" is the reduced energy requirement that your body adjusts to during a diet. So, if you resume your normal eating patterns after a short, strict diet, your body gains more weight than it did before. However, if you change your eating habits over the long term and take enough exercise, you can avoid the yo-yo effect.

Beware of false promises

We help you take a closer look at diets. If one of the points below is true of your diet or slimming aid, we advise you to be careful.

  • The daily calorie intake is less than 1,200 calories.
  • The selection of foods is unbalanced or one-sided, or certain combinations are forbidden.
  • Reference is made to negative calories and fat burners.
  • You're promised a weight reduction of more than 1 kilo a week, with little or no change in your current habits.
  • The advertising features statements like "never be fat again".
  • The diet or programme is entirely dependent on products that are for sale.
  • Participation is tied to contractual obligations that are difficult to understand.
  • Don't regard the change to your eating habits as a diet, but rather as a change in your lifestyle. A diet always has a beginning and an end.

The Swiss Nutrition Society (SGE/SSN) provides further information on the subject of weight loss and diets at.

How healthy is your diet?
Test to check your fruit and vegetable consumption

Do you eat five portions of vegetables and fruit a day? Think about how often you ate fruit and vegetables yesterday. One serving is equivalent to a handful of fruit or vegetables. For adults, this is 120g of fruit or vegetables.

Take our test

More online tests

You can find a selection of tests (in German) that you can use to review your eating habits, your calorie requirements, your BMI or your risk of developing diabetes on the Swiss Society for Nutrition website. The Swiss Health Promotion Foundation (Stiftung Gesundheitsförderung Schweiz) also provides substantiated tests for adults and children (in German).

Our commitment
Helsana's services

The costs of nutritional advice from the Swiss Association of Dieticians (SVDE) are assumed under basic health insurance in the event that an individual is very overweight (BMI over 30) with obesity-related diseases and is referred by their doctor. Helsana contributes 75% (up to CHF 200 per annum) towards the costs of ASDD and Weight Watchers course, eBalance.ch, Oviva and My Coach course (PDF, 22KB) under SANA and COMPLETA supplementary insurance.


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