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What is a balanced diet?

What is a balanced diet?

We are often told that it is important to eat a balanced diet, but what is a balanced diet?

The NHS is a good source here, defining a balanced diet as: “Eating a wide variety of foods in the right proportions, and consuming the right amount of food and drink to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.”

Here’s a guide to the foods you should eating, and some tips on portions and recipes:

Fruit and vegetables

We should all be eating five portions of fruit and vegetables each day as they are a vital source of vitamins and minerals and can lower the risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer.

Fruit and veg should, in fact, make up just over a third of the food we eat each day.

Starchy foods

Again, about a third of the food we eat should be starchy foods. Base your meals around potatoes with the skins, brown rice, whole wheat pasta and brown or wholemeal bread, which all contain good levels of fibre and vitamins.

Beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins

Proteins are essential for the body to grow and repair itself, as well as providing a good source of vitamins and minerals.

Foods in this category include: lean cuts of meat and skinless poultry, oily fish, eggs and pulses including beans, nuts and seeds.

Oils and spreads

We need some fat in our diet but only in small amounts.

There are two main types of fat – saturated and unsaturated – and we need to be eating unsaturated fats to reduce the amount of cholesterol in our blood.

Foods high in saturated fat include: sausages and fatty cuts of meat, butter, ghee and lard, cream, hard cheeses, cakes and biscuits and foods containing coconut or palm oil

Foods high in unsaturated fats are oily fish, nuts, seeds, avocados and vegetable oils and spreads.

Portion sizes

Eating a balanced diet is not just about eating the right foods, it’s about eating the right sized portions. Here’s a handy guide to remembering the size of portions you should be aiming for.

Get some good recipes

So, now we know what foods we should be eating, we need to think about how we incorporate them into or daily diet. One good approach is to build up a collection of healthy recipes for meals and snacks suitable for different times of the day. For starters, here’s some links to some balanced recipes for men and women.


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