Eating a healthy, balanced diet is an important to maintain good health, and can help you feel your best. It can reduce your risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis and some types of cancer.
Below are some tips to help you move towards a healthy diet:
- Eat a variety of foods
- Cut down on sugar and fat
- Watch your portion sizes
- Cut down on salt - not just what you add but check the food labels as three-quarters of the salt we eat is already in the food we buy
- Drink plenty of fluids - we need to drink about 1.6 to 2 litres of fluid every day. All non-alcoholic drinks count, but water and lower-fat milk are healthier choices
- Eat breakfast - this gets our metabolism going and kick-starts our body for the day
Changing your eating habits is not easy, but it is achievable. Before you make any changes it is best to know what your current eating habits are. You can do this by keeping a food diary of everything you eat over a few days so that you know what changes need to be made.
Getting a balanced diet
There is a huge range of different foods available to us and it is important to have food from all of the main food groups. For information on a balanced diet use the NHS Eatwell guide.
Five a day fruit and vegetables
The NHS provides guidance on the recommended portion size for five fruits and vegetables a day. You can also see information on eating five a day on a budget.
Check the serving size on prepared foods as each packet can be for one or more servings. Some foods are labelled with nutritional information to help you make decisions. Use this guide on how to read food labels.
If you have a long term health condition you should check with your medical team or a registered dietitian to find out which portion size is right for you. For example if you have high blood pressure you may be advised to look for foods low in salt or watch your cholesterol.
Healthy eating doesn’t mean you have to give up the foods you like or that you have to buy ‘special’ foods. You can change your eating habits by making small, gradual changes.