Healthy eating

Healthy eating can be easy and doesn’t have to be expensive.

The basic rule is to base meals on starchy foods such as rice and pasta, with plenty of fruit and vegetables - and not too much fat, salt or sugar. This will give you all the nutrients you need, without the extra calories.

Balance is the key to a healthy diet. We all need to provide our bodies with the energy and nutrients required to function well and feel great. That means eating a wide variety of foods in the right proportion so that over time we get all the nutrients we need to keep ourselves healthy.

Many of us find achieving the balance difficult. After a long day, it can be tempting to grab the first ready meal on the supermarket shelf or reheat a microwave meal for the family. This is okay occasionally - but the nutrition labels on these foods show that many contain high levels of fat, sugar and salt, and not much fibre, vitamins and minerals.

Tips to help you eat healthier

Here are some handy tips for healthy eating:

  • The trick to achieving a good balance is to plan ahead for your meals.
  • Try to cook from scratch, or use a combination of some fresh and some convenience foods, more often than relying on takeaways or ready meals.
  • Always include vegetables and starchy food at the main meal to provide satisfying portions without too much fat.
  • Write a shopping list based on your planned meals.
  • Build-in slow cook or fast cook choices for your busy days.

Food groups

All the food we eat can be divided into 5 groups. A healthy diet means that you eat the right balance of these groups:

  1. Starchy foods, such as rice, wholewheat pasta and bread, and potatoes.
  2. Fruit and vegetables.
  3. Meat, fish, eggs and beans.
  4. Milk and dairy foods.
  5. Foods containing fat and sugar.

Most of us eat too much fat, sugar and salt, and not enough fruit and vegetables or starchy foods and whole grains.

Eatwell guide

The Eatwell Guide shows how much of what we eat overall should come from each food group to achieve a healthy, balanced diet.

You do not need to achieve this balance with every meal, but try to get the balance right over a day or even a week.