Avoid junk foods and sugary drinks

Junk food contains lots of energy (kilojoules), salt, sugar, and saturated and trans fats while being low in fruit, vegetables and wholegrains. Eating too much junk food can lead to overweight and obesity, which is a risk factor for a number of cancers. As well as contributing lots of energy, sugar, fat and salt to your diet, junk food takes the place of healthier foods that help reduce your risk of cancer.

Examples of junk foods:

  • Hot chips, burgers and pizzas from fast food outlets
  • Cakes, donuts, ice-cream, biscuits and muffins
  • Chocolate and other confectionary
  • Pastries, pies, fried spring rolls and sausage rolls
  • Processed meats such as bacon, salami, ham and pastrami
  • Crisps and similar snack foods
  • Soft drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks, cordial and fruit drinks
  • Alcoholic beverages

Sugary drinks

Soft drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks, cordials and fruit drinks are high in sugar and contain very few vitamins and minerals. A 600mL bottle of regular soft drink contains an alarming 16 teaspoons of sugar, nearly three times the daily limit recommended by the World Health Organization.

Sugary drinks contribute a lot of energy (kilojoules) whilst providing hardly any nutrients. They are not a good choice. There is convincing evidence that sugary drinks are associated with weight gain, which is a risk factor for a number of cancers. Emerging evidence also suggests that sugary drinks may be directly linked to an increased risk of several cancers, however further research is needed to determine if these drinks are a true cause of cancer.

The best drink choices are plain or sparkling water, tea or coffee without added sugar and reduced fat milk.

Preparing healthy food at home

Many of your favourite meals can be cooked at home using healthier ingredients and cooking methods.

  • Adapt your recipes to include more vegetables and legumes.
  • Choose wholemeal and wholegrain varieties of pasta, bread, rice and flour.
  • Use low fat cooking methods, such as grilling, baking or steaming.
  • Use non-stick cookware and try an oil spray to reduce the amount of oil you use.
  • Use reduced-fat dairy products.
  • Choose lean cuts of meat and trim all visible fat from meat before cooking.
  • Remove skin from poultry.
  • Swap store-bought sausages for home-made patties.
  • Look for ‘low-salt', ‘no added salt' or ‘saltreduced' products, for example, salt-reduced gravies, sauces, stocks and condiments.
  • Only use small amounts of very salty ingredients (such as soy sauce, olives, parmesan cheese or anchovies) in cooking.
  • Try to select products with less than 400mg of sodium per 100 grams of product.
  • Limit salt used in cooking and at the table. Flavour foods with herbs, spices, lemon juice or vinegar instead.