By ensuring you have a healthy diet, you're taking one of the most important steps to maintaining good health and wellbeing. A well balanced diet will not only help you to maintain a healthy body weight, it will also reduce the risk of a range of serious diseases and enhance your general wellbeing.
A few easy steps for a healthy diet
If you struggle to make healthy choices, these practical tips can help. You need to ensure you eat the right amount of food for how active you are, as well as a wide range of foods to ensure it has a healthy balance of all the key nutrients you need.
Base your meals around certain foods - for a steady flow of energy you should choose from complex carbohydrates such as potatoes rice, pasta, bread and cereals.
Go for wholegrain, unrefined carbohydrates rather than white - you can do this for breads, rice and pasta.
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables - five portions a day to provide a wide range of vitamins, minerals and fibre.
Limit unhealthy fats - saturated and trans fats are hidden in many foods but on their own tend to be solid at room temperature. The label will show you how much fat the food contains - high fat is more than 20g of fat per 100g of food.
Eat more healthy fats - boost your intake of Omega 3 fats with at least two portions of oily fish per week. Good options include tuna, herring, mackerel, salmon, trout and kipper. You should also choose monounsaturated fats rather than saturated fats - good options are olive oil and rape seed oil.
Limit sugars - cut down on foods that contain added sugar such as sweets, cakes and biscuits and limit how many sugary and fizzy drinks you consume. Aim for foods with less than 15g of sugar per 100g of food.
Drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluid - six to eight glasses a day is a good target to keep you feeling sharp. Water is ideal, but tea and coffee in moderation can contribute to your daily fluid intake and, contrary to popular belief, won't dehydrate you. Pregnant women should limit their total caffeine intake to 200mg a day (about four cups of tea or two of coffee) but other people can have up to 450mg caffeine a day.
Limit the amount of salt you eat - eating less salt can help to keep your blood pressure down. High salt foods have 1.5g of sodium chloride (or 0.6g of sodium) or more in them per 100g of food. Overall, you should keep your daily intake below 6.0 g of sodium chloride or 2.4 g of sodium.
Make time for breakfast - you can kick-start your metabolism (which will help you manage your weight and improve your brain function) with a starchy start to the day. Porridge, toast, wholegrain cereal or fruit are all great options.
Keep alcohol in check - pure alcohol is almost as fattening as raw fat and drinking too much can significantly increase your risk of suffering a heart attack, stroke, liver disease and several cancers. Men should keep it to a maximum of four units a day and no more than 21 units a week and women to a maximum of three units a day with no more than 14 units a week.