Eating a healthy and balanced diet is a very important part of our lives, from maintaining good health to also helping us to feel at our best! Eating a healthy and balanced diet does not need to be difficult either and we’ve added a few suggestions below to help you get started and maintain your lifestyle.
Fruit and Vegetables
Experts recommend we eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables each day. Although five portions seem like a large amount – it’s much easier than it sounds! Vegetables in our meals count towards our recommend intake and fruit juices are also ideal (although we must be mindful of sugar content!) If you’re struggling to eat your recommended amount, why not add your favourite fruit to your morning cereal or swap your mid-morning snack for a piece of fruit? Vegetables, such as celery, carrots and cucumber batons, make perfect snacks when you’re feeling a little hungry and can be eaten while you’re on the go!
Fish is an excellent source of protein and is packed with lots of vitamins and minerals. It is recommended to eat at least two portions of fish each week – including one portion of oily fish such as salmon, fresh tuna, mackerel and sardines… Delicious!
Reducing saturated fat and sugar
We all require some fat in our diet but it’s vitally important to watch the amount of fat we are consuming and also the type of fat.
There are two main types of fat: saturated and unsaturated. Too much unsaturated fat can increase the amount of cholesterol in our blood which in turn increases our risk of developing heart disease. Saturated fat is found in many foods including hard cheese, cakes, biscuits, butter and pastry. Lots of foods contain unsaturated fat such as vegetable oils, oily fish and avocados.
Sugary foods and drinks are often high in energy and if they are consumed too frequently, they can have a dramatic effect on our weight and also our dental health.
Try to cut down on sugary or fizzy drinks, sugary breakfast cereals, biscuits, cakes and cereals, which contain ‘added sugar’ rather than the sugar already found in foods such as fruit. Food labels can provide a guide on sugar content and whether the food is high or low in sugar.
Many foods are high in salt and we can often make the mistake of adding more salt. Eating too much salt can raise our blood pressure, which can in turn increase our chances of heart disease or having a stroke.
Food labels provide a great guide for salt content. It is worth bearing in mind that this is reflective of an adult diet and children under the age of 11 should be consuming even less.
Maintaining a healthy weight and exercising
Eating a healthy diet is essential in maintaining a healthy weight. Being overweight can have a major impact on our health, with an increase in the risk of health conditions.
Physical exercise is great and can impact on our weight. There are many things we can do to exercise too – from going to the gym or leisure centre to a few practical ideas while you’re out and about.
We all require 1.6 – 2.0 litres of fluid each day to stay hydrated. This is in addition to any fluids we consume in food.
Water and milk are the best drinks and when the weather is warm or when we’re exercising, we may need more fluids!
The morning can be a very busy time and it’s often tempting or practical to start our day without breakfast. A healthy breakfast is important in maintaining a balanced diet, with lots of vitamins and minerals. Research has also shown that eating breakfast can help us to control our weight too!