A Healthy Diet
Having a healthy and varied diet is important to ensure we get all the vitamins and minerals we need to protect our long-term health, without over indulging on the calories.
The Eatwell Guide shows how much of what we eat overall should come from each food group to achieve a healthy, balanced diet.
Here are some tips for incorporating all of the food groups into your diet:
- Eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day
- Base meals on starchy carbohydrates like potatoes, bread, rice or pasta
- Have some dairy or dairy alternatives such as soya drinks and yoghurts
- Eat some protein like beans, pulses, fish, eggs or meat
- Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and eat in small amounts
Read more here about Government dietary recommendations.
Healthy Eating for Babies, Children and Teenagers
It is important for your baby to get the right start in life. It is recommended that solid foods are introduced to babies from the age of 6 months, as breast milk or first infant formula provides all the energy and nutrients needed up until this time. Visit Start4Life – NHS for information on weaning, nutrition and recipe and meal ideas for your baby. You can also download the NHS – Better Health Weaning Wallchart, a guide to understanding the different stages of introducing solid foods to your baby.
There are different guidelines for children about what their diet should contain as they grow, and also about how much energy they should consume.
There are lots of ways to increase your child’s interest in food, such as showing them pictures of different vegetables, and increasing familiarity through repetition. Read more about Learning to Love Vegetables – British Nutrition Foundation.
Portion sizes are important in introducing healthy eating habits. The 5532 rule helps to remember how many of which food groups your child needs. Visit the British Nutrition Foundation for more information on portion sizes and healthy eating habits for toddlers and pre-schoolers.
When your child reaches school age, a healthy diet will follow similar guidelines to that of an adult, following the approach set out in the Eatwell Guide. It will be important at this stage to make sure that your child doesn't eat too many sugary or fatty foods, such as sweets, cakes and biscuits, or drink too many sugary drinks.
You might be interested in these heathier lunchbox and snack ideas.
If your child is at secondary school, you may be able to see what your child is eating via their payment card. It is worth reviewing this once in a while to see what choices they are making to ensure they are fuelled well for the day ahead. Learning can take up a lot of energy, and being settled and ready to learn is an important building block for concentration. Energy drinks are not recommended for under 16s, so these would not be suitable to take to school as refreshment.
Read more about a healthy diet for school aged children and young people.
Try these useful Apps to help achieve a healthier diet for you and your family!
The NHS Food Scanner App allows you to see what’s inside the foods you eat to help you make healthier swaps for the next time you shop.
The Easy Meals App helps you keep track of calories with healthy ingredients and meal ideas for you and your family.
Drink Free Days offers support for adults who want to cut down on drinking, with tools to analyse your drinking behaviour and track your drink free days with reminders and praise along the way.
8 tips for eating healthy
A nutritious diet has many long-term benefits. Even if you are a healthy weight, it is important to ensure you are getting all the vitamins and minerals you need as part of a healthy diet. Here are some tips to help you eat more healthily.
- Stay away from sugary drinks - Choosing water over sugar-sweetened drinks and leaving sugar out of your tea or coffee can make you feel healthier even in the short-term
- Eat fruit and veg – Eating a minimum of 400g of fruit and vegetables a day lowers the risk of serious health problems, such as heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer
- Don’t forget protein – Beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins can help you stay fuller longer. A portion of oily fish, rich in Omega-3, can help prevent heart disease
- Choose unsaturated oils – By eating olive, sunflower or rapeseed oils and eating in small amounts, you can cut down on saturated fat, which can increase the risk of heart disease
- Keep your dairy light – Choose lower fat and lower sugar options for milk, cheese and yoghurt
- Choose wholegrain carbs – Potatoes, bread, rice or pasta should make up no more than a third of your meal
- Know what’s in it – Most pre-packaged foods have a nutrition label. Some are colour coded with a red, amber and green fat and sugars content system. This can help you avoid the more fatty and sugary products by choosing the product with the lower content
- Think about what you’re drinking – A glass of wine contains as many calories as a piece of chocolate, and a pint of lager is the equivalent of a packet of crisps. Limiting your alcohol intake will contribute towards a healthier diet as well
Try these 20 tips to eat healthy for less.