Eating a balanced diet is an important part of staying healthy, but what is that balance? It isn’t difficult to keep to achieve and here we present 7 steps to healthy eating which will help you along.
5 a Day
Even with the amount of publicity around the importance of eating at least 5 portions of fruit and veg a day, most of us still don’t eat enough. It’s recommended that they should amount to around a third of the total amount of food we eat every day.
Both fruit and vegetables provide us with vitamins, minerals and fibre so a variety of 5 of them a day is beneficial. There’s plenty to choose from and they can be either fresh, frozen, dried or juiced. With juice or smoothies try to limit to no more than 150ml a day because of their concentration.
We get our energy and a range of nutrients from starchy foods, so basing meals around foods such as potatoes, rice, pasta and other carbohydrates can be a help. Wholegrain is best where possible and this type of food should be around a third of our diet.
Whole wheat pasta, brown rice and leaving the skins on potatoes are a good source of fibre. Brown bread is good but there are also high fibre versions of white bread and pasta which can also be included.
Having some dairy foods in our diet is good, but there are also alternatives such as soya drinks and yogurts if you’d prefer. Low fat and low sugar options are the best choice as one of the 7 steps to healthy eating
Reduced fat cheese, plain low fat yoghurt and 1% milk are a healthy option. Milk, cheese and fromage frais provide us with protein and some vitamins. They’re also high in calcium which is good for helping to keep bones strong.
Pulses Fish Eggs and Meat
Eating beans, pulses, fish, eggs and meat provide us with protein, vitamins and minerals. If possible try to have two fish meals each week. One of these should be oily fish like salmon or mackerel.
For meat, eat leaner cuts and mince. Chicken and turkey are best. Keep red meat to a minimum and avoid processed meat like bacon, ham and sausages as much as possible. Pulses such as beans, peas and lentils can be eaten as an alternative to meat as they’re lower in fat, but higher in fibre and protein.
Oils and Spreads
Unsaturated oils and spreads are better but should really only be consumed in small amounts. Vegetable, rapeseed, olive and sunflower oils contain unsaturated fats and they are healthier. All types of fat are high in energy so they shouldn’t be eaten in large amounts.
Salt Sugar and Fat
Unfortunately it’s often the foods that taste good that aren’t good for us. Cake, chocolate, biscuits, sugary drinks, butter, ghee and ice cream should be eaten in small amounts and not too often.
These types of foods don’t necessarily need cutting out altogether but they’re not needed in our diet. If you eat smaller amounts and less often it will be better for your health.
It’s recommended that we drink at least 6 – 8 cups or glasses of fluid a day. Many people don’t drink enough, but remember that this includes water, low fat milk, low sugar or sugar free drinks, tea and coffee.
Juice and smoothies also count towards your daily intake but they do tend to be high in free sugars. Too much of it isn’t good for you and it can damage the teeth. As previously mentioned, sticking to no more than 150ml of a combination of juice and smoothies a day is the recommendation.
There are other factors to a healthy balanced diet and we differ from person to person so these 7 steps are a general guide to give a starting point.