Healthy Eating Guidance
What exactly is a ‘balanced diet’? Think about how a football team works – you need a goalkeeper, attackers, and defenders. If you have too many attackers and no defenders, you’re likely to lose the game. It’s the same with food; without the right balance of food, your body doesn’t perform at its best.
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The 5 major food groups that go together to make a balanced diet
Fruit and Vegetables
Fruit and vegetables are a key part of a balanced diet as they provide lots of fibre as well as vitamins and minerals. 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day help to protect the body from disease, with a portion being the size of a medium-sized piece of fruit such as an apple.
Carbohydrates or starchy foods, as they are sometimes called, are very filling and provide your body with lots of energy, which helps to keep your energy levels up and keep your digestive system working properly. Meals should be based on foods from this group.
Protein-rich foods such as beans, pulses, meat, fish, and eggs are vital to building and repairing your body. Protein should be part of your everyday diet to keep you strong and healthy. Soya products such as tofu also provide protein. Aim for at least 2 portions of fish a week, with one portion being an oily fish (for example salmon or mackerel).
Milk and dairy products are important for your bones, teeth, muscles, and nerves. Drinking plenty of milk and eating cheese is an easy and tasty way to stock up on calcium. Watch out though for added sugar in yogurts and milkshakes. Try to choose lower fat versions such as semi-skimmed or skimmed milk, and lower fat cheeses. Unsweetened, calcium-fortified dairy alternatives also count in this group.
Some fats are essential in the diet, however, only small amounts are needed. Try and use unsaturated oils and spreads.
Foods high in fat, salt, and sugar (including cakes, chocolate, crisps, and sugary drinks) are not required for a healthy balanced diet, try and eat them less often and in small amounts.