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. Maintaining a healthy weight is important, but even if you or your family members are a healthy weight, a nutritious diet has many long-term health benefits. Choosing fruit and vegetables over chocolate and biscuits, and water over fizzy sugar-sweetened pop can make us feel healthier even in the short-term. The Eatwell Plate is a good guide to follow if you are embarking on healthier eating, and want to know where to start. Here are some of the basic rules to get you started:
- Eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day
- Base meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates; choosing wholegrain versions where possible
- Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks); choosing lower fat and lower sugar options
- Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 portions of fish every week, one of which should be oily)
- Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and eat in small amounts
- Drink 6-8 cups/glasses of fluid a day
If consuming foods and drinks high in fat, salt or sugar, have these less often and in small amounts.
Toddlers, Pre-School and School Children
There are different guidelines for children about what their diet should contain as they grow, and also about how much energy they should consume. As a parent or carer, eating with your child can have a positive impact. For example you will increase a children’s interest in eating fruit and vegetables if you are enjoying them too.
Secondary School Students
If your child is at secondary school, you may be able to see what your child is eating via their payment card. It is always 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 16 year olds, so these would not be suitable to take to school as refreshment.