A healthy diet

A healthy diet is a balanced diet. Eating a variety of foods in the right proportions, and in the right quantities, is the key to achieving and maintaining good health.

The five food groups

As a general guide, a healthy diet involves eating:

  • plenty of fruit and vegetables
  • plenty of starchy foods, such as bread, rice, pasta, potatoes
  • some protein, such as meat, fish, eggs, beans
  • some milk and dairy products
  • only small amounts of foods high in fat, salt or sugar

It’s also important to drink six to eight glasses of fluid a day – water, tea, coffee, fruit juice and milk all count towards the total.

Maintaining a healthy diet

The first step to staying healthy is to buy healthy ingredients, but the method of cooking can significantly affect the nutritional value of your meals. Generally, the healthiest cooking methods are those that do not require any extra fat to be added, such as grilling, baking, poaching or steaming. Frying food can significantly increase fat and calorie intake.

Portion sizes

Eating regularly helps to ensure that you stick to a balanced diet. This may not always be practical, but some of the following tips might help you control how much you eat:

  • Put less on your plate or eat off a smaller plate.
  • Eat slower, as you will feel full faster.
  • Fill up your plate with vegetables or salad.
  • Set aside leftovers in a container to be frozen.

Eating out

With some careful choices, you can seek out relatively healthy options:

  • For sandwiches, choose wholemeal or brown bread instead of white bread.
  • Lean meats, such as ham, beef, turkey or chicken (without the skin), or fish such as tuna or prawns are all low-fat sandwich fillings.
  • Instead of high-fat cheeses such as cheddar, choose lower-fat cheeses such as ricotta or cottage cheese, or medium-fat cheeses such as Emmental or Brie. Cheese spreads can also be high in fat.
  • Baked potatoes are another good meal choice, with healthy fillings such as baked beans, but avoid ready-mixed fillings, as they often have a high fat content.
  • Leave out butter or mayonnaise from your sandwich or your baked potato (after a while you won’t notice the difference).
  • Salads can be filling and tasty if you include some starch, such as rice, pasta or couscous. You could also add some cold meat, cheese, roasted vegetables or beans.