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Balanced diet

A diet which includes starchy foods such as rice and pasta, plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, some protein foods such as meat, fish and lentils, milk, dairy products with a little fat, salt and sugar will give an individual all the nutrients they need.  It is getting the balance foods correct that is important.

Balance in a diet is the key to eat healthily,  this means eating a variety of foods in the correct portions.  It is difficult in modern life to eat a balanced diet.  For instance after a long day at school or work it is easy to pick up a ready meal and warm it in a microwave.  However, the nutritional labels on these foods will show that they are high in fat content.  These types of meals are fine occasionally but if eaten too often they can upset a balanced diet.  

All the food we eat is divided into five food groups.  The food standards agency ‘eatwell plate’ shows how much of each food group an individual should eat daily.  http://www.eatwell.gov.uk/healthydiet/eatwellplate/

The eatwell plate

The five food groups are:

  • Fruit and vegetables
  • Starchy foods, rice, pasta, bread, potatoes
  • Meat, fish, eggs and pulses
  • Milk and dairy products
  • Foods containing fat and sugar

Most people in the UK eat too much fat, sugar and salt and not enough fruit, vegetables and fibre.

Fruit and vegetables reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and some cancers

  • A source of vitamins and minerals
  • Recommendation is five portions per day
  • One portion is:
  • One apple, banana or pear  
  • A slice of melon or pineapple  
  • Three heaped tablespoons of vegetables

Starchy foods, rice, pasta, bread, potatoes

  • A good source of energy and nutrients
  • Should make up one third of everything eaten
  • Wholegrain starchy foods contain more fibre(roughage), more vitamins and minerals

Meat, fish, eggs and pulses

  • Good source of protein which is needed for growth and repair
  • About 15% of the calories consumed daily should come from protein
  • Good source of vitamins and minerals
  • Lean meat  - iron , zinc and B vitamins, particularly vitamin B12
  • Oily fish – omega – 3 fatty acids  
  • Two portions of fish per week, one portion to be oily fish, fresh, frozen or canned.  Smoked and canned fish can have a high salt content
  • Eggs and pulses(beans, nuts and seeds), nuts are high in fibre but also high in fat, eat in moderation.

Milk and dairy products

  • Milk and dairy products are good sources of:
  • Protein – repair and growth
  • Calcium – keep bones and teeth healthy
  • Some dairy products are high in saturated fat which can raise blood cholesterol levels
  • Use semi-skimmed milk, skimmed milk, low fat hard cheese or cottage cheese and low fat yoghurt

Fat and sugar

Fat and sugar are a good source of energy.

Most people in the UK eat too much fat and too much sugar.

Eating too much fat and sugar too  means that an individual has taken in too much energy in the form of fat and sugar.  They do not burn it off resulting in an increase in weight.  This can lead to obesity, which will increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.

Fat

There are different types of fat saturated fat and unsaturated fat.  Most people in the UK eat too much saturated fat.

Saturated fat

  • Found in Pies, meat products, sausages, cheese, butter, cakes and biscuits.
  • It raises blood cholesterol levels
  • It increases the risk of heart disease.

Unsaturated fat

  • Helps to lower cholesterol levels
  • Provides essential fatty acids to keep individuals healthy
  • Good sources are: oily fish, nuts and seeds, avocado, olive oils and vegetable oils

Sugar

  • It occurs naturally in some foods e.g. fruit and milk.  
  • It is added to other foods e.g. fizzy drinks, cakes, biscuits, chocolate, pastries, ice cream, jam, some ready-made foods such as pasta sauces and baked beans.
  • Individuals need to cut down on foods that have added sugar.