Eating a balanced diet is essential to keep us in good health and feeling our best. Here’s how to make sure we’re getting a balanced diet.
A balanced diet means eating from each food group in moderation to stay a healthy weight and to give our bodies the nutrients they need. Let’s take a closer look.
Fruit, veg and carbs
The first step is to aim for 5 or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day. A portion is 80g for fresh, canned or frozen fruit and veg. A tablespoon of dried fruit counts too!
Base your meals on starchy carbohydrates like:
- Rice and grains
- Potatoes and sweet potatoes
- Oats and cereals
Aim for wholegrain options if you can. You’ll feel fuller for longer and they contain more nutrients.
Protein and fats
Add protein to each meal, like meat, fish, beans, lentils or eggs. Try to opt for lean cuts of meat and keep processed meat like burgers and sausages as a treat now and then. Even though fat gets a bad rap, a small amount is an essential part of a balanced diet. When you can, choose unsaturated fat or healthy fats like:
- Olive oil and olives
- Nuts and seeds
- Oily fish like salmon
Dairy, drinks and alcohol
What about dairy products? Try to pick lower fat and lower sugar options of both dairy and dairy alternatives. When it comes to keeping hydrated, aim for 6-8 glasses of water per day – low fat milk, tea and coffee all count! Fizzy drinks contain high amounts of sugar and few nutrients so try to keep them to a minimum. A 150ml glass of fruit juice will count once towards your 5 a day, but only once as it’s high in sugar. When it comes to alcohol, keep within the guidelines of less than 14 units a week for both men and women.
Dividing your plate
Aim for starchy carbohydrates and vegetables to make up most of your plate alongside a hand-sized amount of protein and a small amount of fat.
You can decide the best way that works for you to get a balanced diet. You could tick all the boxes through breakfast, lunch and dinner, or mix it up with healthy snacks like fruit and veg in between to meet your 5 a day.
Last thing – no foods should be off limits as all foods have a place in a healthy lifestyle. Enjoying a balanced diet means aiming for the recommended amounts of each food group, which includes having the occasional high saturated fat and high sugar foods like cakes, chocolate, desserts and fast food. It’s all about moderation!