We can all agree that eating healthily and keeping a balanced diet is key part of maintaining good health. By eating a wide variety of foods in the right proportions you give your body the correct nutrients that it needs to function properly, meaning that with the correct diet, you will not only look better, but feel better too.
Maintaining a balanced diet
To have a healthy, balanced diet NHS Choices recommends that you spread your food intake over the 5 main food groups. Starchy foods should form the base for most meals, with foods such as potatoes, bread, rice and pasta making up just over one-third of everything you eat. For a healthier option, you should try to select wholegrain or wholemeal options of these items for an increased proportion of vitamins, minerals and fibre.
The NHS also widely recommends that you eat at least 5 portions of fruit and veg a day. An excellent source of vitamins, minerals and fibre, your five-a-day can include nearly all fruits and vegetables, including those that are frozen, canned, dried or juiced, though it should include a mixture of both fruit AND vegetables.
Foods such as beans, pulses, eggs, meat and fish are excellent sources of protein and a variety of essential vitamins and minerals. Meat in particular is a good source of vitamin B12, which is essential for keeping nerve and blood cells healthy, though the NHS recommends selecting lean cuts and skinless poultry options to cut down on fat. You should also try to consume two portions of fish a week, with one portion being of an oily, omega-3 rich variety.
Most adults in the UK eat more calories than they need, and much of this comes in the form of excessive fat and sugar consumption. However, fats are key to maintaining balanced diet, but should be limited to small amounts. The NHS recommends these in the forms of unsaturated oils and spreads, with some input from the milk and dairy food group. Milk and dairy products
Avoiding processed foods
Most processed foods are unhealthy, as it is very common for any food that is processed to contain added sugar, salt and fat. This leads to people eating far more than the recommended amount of these additives, often without realising. While some processing is necessary, such as the pasteurising of milk, it is recommended that you always read the labels on food packaging and to cook from scratch where possible to reduce fat, sugar and salt intake.
Reducing fast foods and takeaways
It goes without saying that the vast majority of fast foods and takeaways are extremely processed and high in saturated fat. Too much saturated fat in a diet can lead to high cholesterol levels, putting you at greater risk of heart disease and other related conditions. While high in calories, fast food often offers little to no nutritional value and should therefore be limited to the very occasional treat.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and minerals are essential nutrients that the body needs to function properly. By eating a varied and balanced diet, including your 5 a day, most people get all the essential nutrients they need to provide a wide array of health benefits such as boosting the immune system, cell repair, building strong bones and teeth, converting food into energy and controlling body fluids.
The NHS Eatwell Guide recommends that we drink six to eight glasses of fluid a day. Water is by far the healthiest and cheapest choice for staying hydrated as it contains no calories and no sugars, so swapping sugary drinks for water is also an effective way to cut back on sugar intake.