What is Healthy Eating?
What you need to know about healthy eating
There are 5 main food groups which are important to healthy eating, the guidelines below offer practical tips that are easy to follow:
Five main food groups in healthy eating
Bread, other cereals and potatoes
Milk and dairy products
Meat, fish and alternatives
Fruit and vegetables
Fatty and sugary foods
An eating plan based on the following information will provide all the nutrients needed to help you to establish a healthy eating pattern which is very important when you are trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight
One third of our diet should include foods like bread, cereals, pasta, rice and potatoes.
A diet with plenty of fibre in it is thought to reduce our risk of some cancers. Choose foods that contain more fibre, eg Wholemeal bread and pasta, Brown rice, whole grain breakfast cereals, leave the skin on potatoes.
Try not to make your food less healthy by adding fat. Spread butter thinly on your bread for example. Don't have fried starchy foods like chips, too often and cut down on rich sauces that tend to come with pasta, choose a tomato based sauce such as tomato and coriander.
Fruit and vegetables
After stopping smoking, the second most effective way to reduce the risk of most cancer is to eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day. These should be of a wide variety because different fruit and vegetables are rich in different nutrients.[ Recommended amounts vary, some countries propose that we should eat 12 portions of fruit and vegetables a day!].
A portion is 80g / 3 tablespoons or an adult handful. You can include fresh, frozen, tinned and dried fruit and vegetables. You can also count 100% fruit juice.
Preparation is important when you cook fruit and vegetables. Fruit is not so healthy if you add sugar to it and cover it with cream! Use alternatives like low fat fromage frais. Adding a rich cheese sauce to vegetables like cauliflower will make them less healthy too.
Try to eat fruit and vegetables at every meal and eat them as snacks as well. A glass of fruit juice every day is an easy way to get one of your portions When you make stews or casseroles use lots of vegetables add pulses to make it go further. Try to avoid fatty cuts of meat, or cut as much of the fat off as possible..
Milk and dairy products
These foods are a good source of calcium needed for strong bones and teeth. So try to have 3 portions a day.
Foods containing fat, sugar, and salt
Choose semi skimmed or skimmed milk instead of full-fat whenever you can.
Eating too much fat and sugar can lead to weight gain and also increase your risk of heart disease and cancer. When foods containing sugar are eaten too often they can lead to tooth decay.
Limit the amount of sugar added to hot drinks, cereals etc.
Only have high sugar foods like sweets, chocolate, biscuits, cakes and fizzy and soft drinks as treats and only have them around mealtimes , you may feel less inclined to eat too many if you have just had a meal and it will also reduce the amount of times through the day that your teeth come into contact with sugar and thereby reduce your risk of tooth decay.
Limit the amount of fat used for spreading and cooking
Meat Fish and Alternatives
Meat fish, eggs, pulses, nuts and meat alternatives like soya mince and Quorn provide important nutrients including iron and should be eaten in moderate amounts
Try to eat at least 2 portions of fish a week and make one of them an oily fish. Oily fish are rich in omega 3 fatty acids which may protect against heart disease and have other health benefits related to the brain and the joints.
Cut down on processed meat products like burgers and sausages which are high in fat
Have high fat foods, especially processed foods like cakes, biscuits, pastries and savoury snacks only as treats.
Try to avoid full fat dairy products and fatty cuts of meat; limit your use of margarine, butter and oils and don't eat too many processed foods. Eating too much of this type of saturated fat can cause heart disease
Fats which are rich in monounsaturates are good for our health in general - so choosing small amounts of these fats is preferable.
Many of the processed foods that contain a lot of fat and sugar also contain a lot of salt. So by cutting down on these foods you will reduce your intake of salt too. Salt contains sodium and a high intake of sodium raises your blood pressure which increases your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Oils such as rapeseed oil and sunflower oil and corn oil are better for our heart as they are a rich source of polyunsaturates. Don’t keep salt on the table to help you to break the habit of adding extra to your food and avoiding using it in cooking will also help to reduce your intake.
You should check the nutritional information on food labels to find out whether or not they are high in salt, fat and sugar.