Ensuring that you eat a nutritionally balanced diet is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and for maintaining good health. What follows is general advice taken from our online Food for Thought self-help guide. If you have a specific medical condition you should seek dietary advice from your GP or specialist advisor.
Maintaining a balanced diet
Eating well involves eating a mixture of foods which provides the right balance of nutrients for your body to stay healthy:
- Proteins – These help us grow and repair our body. Proteins can be found in foods such as milk, cheese, eggs, fish and meat. They are also found in green leafy vegetables, peas, beans, pulses and nuts.
- Carbohydrates – Help fuel our body to provide energy for activity and breathing. These are found in starchy foods such as bread, potatoes, flour, pasta and rice.
- Fats – Healthy fats are needed to provide fuel to keep us warm and to provide energy for all the bodily functions. They provide certain vitamins and essential fatty acids, for example, omega 3 oils which can be found in fish and certain seeds such as flaxseed and nuts. Fats are found in food such as butter, cream and lard. Liquid fats or oils are produces from seeds and nuts (such as sunflower and olive oil). Fat is hidden in a lot of food such as biscuits, cakes and chocolate, cheese, pastry and crisps. It is advisable to limit intake of foods that contain hidden fats and sugar.
- Fibre – This keeps our digestive system healthy and helps to regulate cholesterol and sugar in the body. It can be found in starchy foods, wholemeal or whole grain varieties of food. Fruit, vegetables, pulses, beans and nuts also contain fibre.
- Fluid – Fluid is essential for our health, our bodies are made up of approximately 60% water. Fluid prevents dehydration, keeps the digestive system healthy and replaces losses of fluid from breathing and sweat. You should aim to drink at least 1 ½ litres or 3-4 pints of fluid a day. Fluids include water, milk and soft drinks. Fluids such as tea, coffee and fizzy, sugary drinks should be limited.
- Fruits and vegetables – These provide our bodies with fibre, vitamins and minerals. Canned (ideally unsweetened) or frozen fruits and vegetables can be just as healthy for us as fresh fruit and vegetables. Ideally you should try to eat 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day.