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Balanced Diet for Healthy Weight Loss
Guidelines for Healthy Eating of All Food Groups
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How Protein, Fat & Carbs Contribute to Healthy Diet and Balanced Eating Habits

Balanced Diet - Healthy Eating Advice

A well-balanced diet can help prevent a number of health problems, including heart disease and some forms of cancer. It can also help you to maintain a healthy weight.

What is a Balanced Diet

The simplest way to eat a healthy balanced diet that supplies all your nutritional needs is to follow the Food Pyramid or the Vegetarian Food Pyramid.

If you are pregnant, see Diet Advice during Pregnancy

Guidelines for Balanced Diet

A healthy balanced eating-plan includes foods from all main food groups, as outlined in the Food Guide Pyramids. One reason fad diets are so unhealthy is that they typically exclude certain foods. This is not healthy.

Balanced Diet and Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are essential to give us energy. They come in two forms: starches (also called complex carbohydrates) - such as cereals, pulses and potatoes; sugars - found in fruit and vegetables, and foods such as sweets and cakes.

Balanced Diet - Carbohydrates - Portions

Aim to eat plenty of starchy foods - or complex carbohydrates - each day, such as cereals, pulses and potatoes. But you shouldn't eat foods containing sugar such as sweets, jam, soft drinks, cakes, biscuits and ice cream too often. When you do eat these foods, try to have them mainly with meals to reduce the risk of tooth decay.

The sugars found in fruit and vegetables are a better source than those found in sweets and cakes as they usually come with other nutrients. You should aim to eat five portions of fruit and veg a day.

Good Sources
These are all good sources of starches:

  • Bread
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Chapattis
  • Oats
  • Pasta
  • Noodles
  • Rice
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Dishes made from maize millet and cornmeal
  • Plantains
  • Green bananas
  • Beans
  • Lentils

NOTE: Choose wholegrain, wholemeal, brown or 'high fiber' varieties where possible.

Carbohydrates and Fibre

Wholegrain bread, pasta and rice, pulses and some fruits are particularly rich in fiber, which helps to prevent constipation.

The fiber in fruit, vegetables and pulses, can also help reduce blood cholesterol levels. And most of us aren't eating enough fiber.

Do Carbohydrates Make You Fat

Most people need to eat more carbohydrates, but eating too much of anything and not burning it off through physical activity will lead to weight gain.

However, weight for weight, carbohydrates provide fewer calories than fat or alcohol. It's also what you add to the carbohydrates that bump up the calories. For example, the margarine or butter we put on the bread and the cream or cheese sauces we add to pasta. So try to cut down on these added fats.


Balanced Diet - Protein

Protein is needed for our body tissues to grow and repair themselves. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, the body can make some of these, but some are called ‘essential amino acids’ because we can only get them from the food we eat. Protein is also a source of energy.

Good sources
These are all good sources of protein:

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Eggs and dairy foods such as milk, yoghurt, and cheese
  • Cereals, such as bread, pasta and rice
  • Pulses
  • Nuts

NOTE: Two-thirds of our protein tends to come from meat, fish, eggs and dairy foods. These foods also contain saturated fat. So if you have some dishes containing pulses or nuts instead of animal products, this will help lower the amount of saturated fat you eat and give you different nutrients. Lowering the amount of saturated fat in the diet can help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.

Balanced Diet - Protein - Portions

Fifteen percent of the calories we eat each day should come from protein, which is about 40-50 grams a day. Most people in the UK are eating more than enough protein.

There is no extra benefit from eating high levels of protein. And if you eat a lot of animal protein, it’s a good idea to sometimes have vegetable protein instead. This is because meat and dairy foods that are high in protein also contain saturated fat. High intakes of saturated fat are associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease. Also, we can’t store amino acids in our bodies. If we eat too much protein we convert the protein into energy. If we don’t use up all the energy then we put on weight, which can eventually lead to obesity. See also Protein Diet


Balanced Diet - Fats and Sugars

A healthy diet means eating and drinking less of these sorts of food.

Foods containing fat include:

Margarine, butter, other spreading fats and low fat spreads, cooking oils, oil-based salad dressings, mayonnaise, cream, chocolate, crisps, biscuits, pastries, cakes, puddings, ice cream, rich sauces and gravies.

Food and drinks containing sugar:

Soft drinks, sweets, jam and sugar, as well as foods such as cakes, puddings, biscuits, pastries and ice cream.

Nutrients in Fats and Sugars

As well as fat, including some essential fatty acids, foods containing fat also provide some vitamins. Some products also contain salt or sugar. Some food and drinks containing sugar also provide minerals and some provide fat.

How much should I be eating?

Eat foods containing fat sparingly and look out for the low fat alternatives. Foods and drinks containing sugar should not be eaten too often as they can contribute to tooth decay.

You'll probably eat some foods containing fat every day, but keep these to small amounts. For example, margarine and butter, other spreading fats (including low fat spreads), cooking oils, oil based salad dressings and mayonnaise. Keep to a minimum the amount of foods such as cakes, biscuits, pastries and ice cream that you eat and choose low fat alternatives where available. Have any food and drink containing sugar mainly at mealtimes to reduce your risk of tooth decay.

Source: UK Food Standards Agency

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