Ensuring that you have a healthy balanced diet is an important step towards good health. Good health is essential in leading a full and active life. A balanced diet means eating the right amount of foods from all the food groups.
There are five main food groups and each one contains essential nutrients. Nutrients are vitamins and minerals that help the body function correctly. Eating nutrients from the right food groups helps keep your body fit and healthy.
The five main food groups are:
- carbohydrates, which contain lots of energy and nutrients and are found in starchy foods, such as bread, pasta and potatoes
- protein, which helps with growth and repair and is found in meat, fish, beans and eggs
- fruit and vegetables
- milk and dairy foods
- foods that are high in fat and sugar
Carbohydrates should make up one-third of your daily diet, and fruit and vegetables should also make up one-third. The remainder of your diet is split between protein and milk and dairy. Only a very small amount of what you eat every day should consist of fats and sugars.
People with certain medical conditions may need to follow a slightly different diet. For example, pregnant women need to avoid eating certain foods; dietary advice for people over 60 and for children of various ages may also be different. The British Nutrition Foundation provides further advice and information about healthy eating and alternative diets.
The Eatwell Plate
You can use this eatwell plate to help you get the balance right. It shows how much of what you eat should come from each food group.
The benefits of eating healthily
Eating a nutritious, balanced diet will help you improve your overall health. In particular, a balanced diet can help:
- Reduce your risk of heart disease and high blood pressure
- Reduce your chances of getting cancer
- You have more energy
- Keep you well
- You lose weight
- Improve your bowel health
- Your skin, nails and hair look healthier
You can maintain a healthy weight and avoid health problems by eating a balanced diet. To do this:
- eat plenty of carbohydrates
- eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day
- cut down on the amount of fat, sugar and salt in your diet
- eat enough vitamins and minerals
- drink enough fluids
To find out if you are a healthy weight:
Change 4 life
Change 4 life supports adults and children in eating well, moving more and living longer.Click here to visit their website to find out more.
You can listen to Wellbeing podcasts on the Mental Health website by clicking on the related link, which is on the right hand side of this page.