How to Maintain a Healthy Nutritional Balance
A simple guide to eating well
Healthy eating doesn't have to be complicated. It doesn't mean existing on carrot juice and muesli - your kids can still enjoy party food whilst you can eat the occasional chocolate bar or relax with a glass of wine.
Eating well is about a sense or proportion and balance, as the following golden rules of healthy eating show:
Eat a wide variety of different foods.
No food needs to be totally excluded from your diet - except occasionally for special medical reasons.
Eat plenty of foods rich in starch and fibre.
Try to base family meals around foods such as bread, pasta, rice, breakfast cereals, potatoes etc. These are versatile, highly nutritious and usually inexpensive.
Avoid too many fatty and sugary foods.
Try grilling or baking instead of frying or roasting, and when you do use oil, choose one that says it is high in polyunsaturates or monounsaturates. Don't eat too many sweets or chocolates as they can lead to tooth decay.
Eat fruit and vegetables every day.
Adults should aim to eat at least five different portions of fruit and vegetables every day. All types count, including fresh, frozen, canned and fruit juices. The key here is variety! You can check what counts by using Nutracheck's food diary (www.nutracheck.co.uk).
Look after the vitamins and minerals in your food.
Store foods properly (according to the instructions) and eat them as fresh as possible. Overcooking vegetables, or boiling in too much water can destroy valuable vitamins. Try streaming or microwaving instead.
If you drink keep within sensible limits.
It is recommended that men should drink no more than three units and
women no more than two units of alcohol daily. One unit equals half a
pint of normal strength beer or lager, a glass of wine or a pub measure
of spirits. During pregnancy it is best not to drink at all, or stick
to one or two units a week only. You can check your intake using
Nutracheck's food diary which contains an automatic alcohol monitor (www.nutracheck.co.uk).
Taste your food before adding salt. On average we eat about 13 grams (two and a half teaspoons) of salt per day, but we only need about three grams (half a teaspoon). Too much salt can lead to high blood pressure and can be harmful to the kidneys of infants. Most salt is added by manufacturers, so try to choose reduced salt alternatives.
A properly planned vegetarian diet can be very healthy, but care
needs to be taken that the nutrients normally provided by meat are
replaced by those from other foods. As a guide a healthy vegetarian
diet should include the following each day:
- 3 or 4 servings of cereals or grains
- 2 or 3 servings of pulses, nuts or seeds
- 4 or 5 servings of fruit and vegetables, including: dark green leafy vegetables, red, orange or yellow vegetables, fresh fruit, dried fruit
- 2 servings of dairy or soya products
Aim to live by the 80:20 rule. If you eat well 80% of the time, you can afford to indulge 20% of the time! It's all about balance.