Healthy Eating

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A healthy diet is important for good health. A healthy and varied diet can help maintain a healthy body weight, enhance general wellbeing and reduce the risk of a number of diseases including heart disease, stroke cancer, diabetes and osteoporosis.

8 Guidelines for a Healthy Diet

Base your meals on starchy foods.

Eat lots of fruit and vegetables.

Eat more fish.

Cut down on saturated fat and sugar.

Try to eat less salt - no more than 6g/day.

Get active and try to be a healthy weight.

Drink plenty of water.

Don't skip breakfast.

Healthy Weight for Children

If you encourage your child to eat a healthy and balanced diet with little fat and sugar and you encourage them to take plenty of exercise, your child should maintain a healthy weight. Children who see their parents, grandparents and carers following a healthy lifestyle tend to learn by example and it will help them develop good habits. These habits become a normal part of everyday life. If you are concerned about your child’s weight, contact your GP or local public health nurse.

Get the balance right

Consuming a healthy, balanced and varied diet can assist in the prevention of the conditions described before. But what does eating healthily really mean? A lot of people say it just involves eating all foods in moderation. The problem with the idea of moderation is everyone thinks they already do just that, so they don’t need to change! Many people could eat more healthily, quite easily, by following the simple themes of the Food Standards Agency’s EatWell Plate model shown in the diagram. The model demonstrates the proportions in which we should consume foods and drinks from each of the five food groups; it is based on the 8 guidelines for a healthy diet.

The Eatwell Plate

The Eatwell plate applies to all healthy individuals over five years of age, and can be gradually applied for pre-school children, but does not apply to individuals with special dietary requirements. You should choose a variety of foods from each of these four food groups every day:

  Fruit and Veg.

  Bread, rice, potatoes, pasta and other starchy foods.

  Milk and dairy foods.

  Meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein.

Foods and drinks in the fifth group i.e. those high in fat and/or sugar, can be consumed sparingly as part of a healthy balanced diet but should not be eaten instead of foods/drinks from the other food groups, or too often in large amounts.

Healthy Weight

It is not a good idea to be either underweight or overweight. Healthy weight is maintained when energy inputs and outputs are balanced. Overweight, and ultimately obesity, result when more energy is consumed than can be utilised, which can lead to ill health, such as heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes. Not eating as much food as your body needs can also affect your health.

If you want to check what sort of shape you’re in, the height/weight chart is a useful guide. It will tell you if you’re a healthy weight for your height.

This information is only a guide and it’s aimed at healthy adults. It isn’t suitable for children, young people or older people. Also, adults with well-developed muscles may find that they will fall into the category of overweight for BMI and the weight for height chart, when in fact they have a healthy body shape and very little fat.