What is a healthy, balanced diet?

A healthy, balanced diet is one that provides the body with the right amount of essential nutrients it needs from a variety of different food groups. It is recommended that women should consume 2000 calories a day and men 2500 calories a day.



Fruit and vegetables

Fruit and vegetables should make up around one third of what we eat each day. They are a very important part of a healthy, balanced diet, as they are a good source of fibre, as well as having lots of essential vitamins and minerals. Aim to have at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables each day. Make it colourful.


Carbohydrates

Starchy foods are an important source of nutrients in our diet. They provide the body with energy for daily tasks and is the main fuel for your brain’s high energy demands. Try to include them at every meal by basing your meals on starchy foods such as potatoes, breads, pasta, rice, noodles. Carbohydrates should make up a third of what we eat a day.


Protein

Protein is important for bones, muscles, cartilage, and blood. It helps grow, repair, and maintain muscle. It also good for maintaining skin, hair, nails, vision, and the immune system. Aim for at least two portions of fish each week, one of which should be oily fish. Remember oily fish can be fresh, frozen or canned e.g. mackerel, salmon, tuna.


Dairy

Dairy is an important part of a healthy, balanced diet, these foods are good sources of protein and some vitamins. But most importantly they are an important source of calcium, which helps keep our bones strong. Go for low fat and / or low sugar products where possible.


Fats

Believe it or not, a small amount of fats is an essential part of a healthy, balanced diet. They provide us with the essential fatty acids that the body cannot make itself. They also help to protect your organs and keep you warm. Remember all types of fats are high in energy and should be eaten in moderation.


High fat and sugar

Food’s high in fat, salt and / or sugars are not needed in the diet, so they should be eaten less and in small amounts e.g. cakes, biscuits, chocolate etc. It is important to remember that food and drinks high in fat and sugar contain large amounts of calories, especially if the portions are large, which can increase the risk of obesity.


Hydration

Water is essential for life, and it is very important to get the right amount of fluid to be healthy. Up to 60% of our body is water and is needed to keep our organs functioning. Remember to keep yourself hydrated though out the day, aim to drink 2 litres.


Alcohol

Alcohol has a lot of calories, and those calories are empty calories, meaning they have no nutritional value. You could be drinking lots of extra calories without realizing it. Alcohol changes the way our metabolism functions, lowers our inhibitions so we are more likely to eat unhealthy foods. Just think if you drink six glasses of 175ml of wine a week, you could have put an extra 3840 calories a month on average into your body that you didn’t need. Try and keep alcohol to a minimum.

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