A healthy diet provides the body with the nutrients it needs to function properly. This includes eating a variety of foods from all the food groups. It also means avoiding excess salt, sugars and saturated and industrially-produced trans fats.
It is recommended to eat at least five portions of a wide range of fruit and vegetables every day. These can be fresh, frozen, canned or dried. Try to vary the types of fruit and veg you eat, as well as aiming for whole fruits and veg when possible.
Make sure you include a good source of protein at most meals. Lean meat, fish, eggs or beans are all good choices. Choose fish that contains omega-3 fatty acids, as this can help lower blood fats called triglycerides. You can find these in salmon, mackerel and herring. Nuts, seeds and beans are also good sources of protein and can be eaten as a substitute for animal proteins such as beef.
Starchy foods such as potatoes, pasta and rice are important, but they should only be eaten in small amounts. These are a good source of fibre and other important vitamins and minerals. Try to eat them in their natural form, rather than as chips or crisps. Try to go for the whole grain versions of these foods, as they are more nutrient-dense than white varieties.
Include low fat or no fat milk, yogurt and cheese in your diet. These are a good source of calcium and other vitamins and minerals. Choose low-sugar options if possible, as these will be lower in fat.
Choose healthier fats such as vegetable, nut and seed oils for cooking. These have less saturated and trans fats and are high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids. Avoid fried foods, as they are high in saturated and trans fats.
It is also important to drink plenty of water. It can prevent dehydration and keep the kidneys working well. It is also good for the skin, eyes and hair.
Try to eat slowly and consciously. This will help you eat less and will prevent overeating. It takes a while for the brain to tell you that you are full, so take your time when eating. It is also a good idea to eat with other people, as this can encourage slower eating and conversation.
It is recommended to limit alcohol and caffeine as they can have a negative impact on health. Instead, try to find ways to relieve stress that don’t involve reaching for a packet of biscuits or a can of fizzy drinks. These can include exercise, spending time with friends, listening to music and getting enough sleep.