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Balanced Healthy Diet - Weight Loss
Healthy Eating for Optimum Nutrition in Weight Control
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Nutritional Details and Food Groups of Balanced diet For Optimum Health and Weight Control

Balanced Healthy Diet

Dairy Foods

For a healthy diet with adequate vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, most people should have milk, cheese, yogurt, fromage frais and other dairy foods in moderate amounts. But choose lower fat versions whenever you can.

Note: This group doesn't include butter, eggs and cream, which are all very high in fat.

Nutrients in Dairy Foods

Vitamin B12
Vitamins A & D

Healthy Diet Recommendations

  • Semi skimmed or skimmed milk
  • Low fat (0.1%) yoghurts or fromage frais
  • Lower fat cheeses (e.g. Edam, half fat Cheddar and Camembert)
  • Check the amount of fat by looking at the nutrition information on food labels. If you compare similar products you'll be able to choose the lowest.


Balanced Healthy Diet - Meat, Fish, Eggs and Pulses

For most people, a healthy nutritious diet means eating only moderate amounts of meat, fish and alternatives such as pulses, eggs, nuts and beans, and choosing lower fat versions when you can.

Meat such as bacon and salami, and meat products such as sausages, beefburgers and pâté are all relatively high fat choices, so try to keep these to a minimum. Beans, such as canned baked beans and pulses, are a good low-fat source of protein.

Aim to eat at least two portions of fish a week and these can be fresh, frozen or canned and include fish fingers and fish cakes. Each week, one of these portions should be of oily fish such as sardines, salmon, pilchard, mackerel, herring, trout or fresh tuna (not canned tuna but this is still a good source of protein and some vitamins).

Nutrients in Meat, Fish, Eggs and Pulses

B Vitamins, especially B12

Healthy Diet Recommendations

Choose lower-fat versions, which means meat with the fat cut off, poultry without the skin and fish without batter, or choose pulses. Cook these foods without added fat.


Balanced Healthy Diet - Fruit and Vegetables

Most people know that we should be eating more fruit and veg. But most of us aren’t eating enough. Did you know that we should be eating at least five portions of fruit and veg every day?

You can choose from fresh, frozen, tinned, dried or juiced. But remember that potatoes don't count because they're a starchy food.

How much fruit and veg should I be eating?

Lots! Fruit and veg should make up about a third of the food you eat each day. And it’s also important to eat a variety. Five-a-day is a good, achievable target. If you count your portions each day it might help you to increase the amount you eat.

Fruit and Vegetables - Portion Sizes

ONE portion = 80g = any of these

  • 1 apple, banana, pear, orange or other similar sized fruit
  • 2 plums or similar sized fruit
  • 1/2 grapefruit or avocado
  • 1 slice of large fruit, such as melon or pineapple
  • 2 to 3 tablespoonfuls of vegetables (raw, cooked, frozen or canned)
  • 2 tablespoons of beans and pulses (however much you eat, beans and pulses count as a maximum of one portion a day)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoonfuls of fruit salad (fresh or canned in fruit juice) or stewed fruit
  • 1/2-1 tablespoonful of dried fruit (such as raisins and apricots)
  • Handful of grapes, cherries or berries
  • Dessert bowl of salad

How can I eat five portions a day?

If you eat one or two portions with each meal and have the occasional fruit snack you might be surprised at how easy it is to eat five-a-day.

Add a handful of dried fruit to your cereal
Half a grapefruit or an apple
Drink a glass of fruit juice

Bowl of salad
Banana sandwich
Fruit salad

Evening Meal
Add vegetables or pulses to your curry, casserole or stir fry
Serve at least two types of vegetables with your fish, chicken or meat
When you fancy a snack, reach for an apple, banana or perhaps even some dried fruit

How do I get the most out of the fruit and veg I eat?

Some vitamins and minerals can be easily lost when fruit and veg are prepared or cooked, so try to remember:

  • Eat fresh fruit and veg as soon as possible rather than storing for a long time – or use frozen instead
  • Don’t overcook. Start with boiling water and cover tightly to keep in the steam, because this speeds up the cooking. You could use a steamer or a microwave
  • Use as little water as possible when you cook fruit and veg. If you use the cooking water for sauce or soup, you’ll recapture some of the lost vitamins and minerals
  • Avoid leaving any vegetables open to the air, light or heat if they have been cut. Always cover and chill them. But don’t soak, because vitamins and minerals can dissolve away
  • Don’t keep food hot for too long because vitamin levels start to drop within a few minutes

Why do I need to eat lots of these foods?

Fruit and veg are good sources of many vitamins and minerals, yet most of us don't eat enough of them. There is mounting evidence that people who eat lots of fruit and veg are less likely to develop chronic diseases like coronary heart disease and some cancers. And don’t forget, fruit and veg are also very low in fat.

Nutrients in Fruit and Vegetables

Vitamin C
Fiber (NSP)
Some carbohydrate

Healthy Diet Recommendations

Eat a wide variety of fruit and vegetables and aim for at least five portions a day.

Try to avoid:

  • Adding fat or rich sauces to vegetables (such as carrots glazed with butter)
  • Adding sugar or syrupy dressings to fruit (such as stewed apple)


Balanced Healthy - Bread and cereals

For optimum nutrition, aim to eat lots of these sorts of foods, which should make up about a third of your diet.

Try to eat a variety and remember you can choose from all these: bread, breakfast cereals, chappattis, oats, pasta, noodles, rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, dishes made from maize millet and cornmeal, plantains, green bananas, beans and lentils. Choose wholegrain, wholemeal, brown or 'high fibre' varieties wherever possible.

How much do I need?

Lots! Eat more of this food group, because we eat less than we should. These foods should make up a big part of our diet. Try serving larger portions of these foods at mealtimes by, for example, having more rice or potatoes.

Can eating these foods make me fat?

People often think that starchy foods are particularly fattening. This isn't true, but starchy foods can become fattening if they're either served or cooked with fat. For example, it's the margarine or butter we spread on bread, the cream or cheese sauce we add to pasta or the oil that we use for frying that makes them fattening. So try cutting down on added fats.

Nutrients in Bread and Cereals

Carbohydrate (starch)
Fibre (NSP)
Some calcium and iron
B vitamins

Healthy Diet Recommendations

Try to eat wholemeal, wholegrain, brown or high fibre versions where possible (e.g. brown rice, wholemeal bread). Try to avoid:

  • Frying them too often (e.g. chips)
  • Adding too much fat (e.g. thickly spread butter or margarine on bread)
  • Adding rich sauces and dressings (e.g. cream or cheese sauce on pasta)


Salt - Are you getting too much?

We all need to eat some salt, but most of us eat too much. Some salt is already present naturally in food and we tend to add more to our food at the table or when we're cooking. But on average, three-quarters of the salt we eat comes from processed food.

What is salt?

Salt is the common name for sodium chloride. It's used to flavour and preserve foods. There are about 2.4 grams of sodium in 6 grams of salt, and it's the sodium that can lead to health problems. 0.5g sodium or more per 100g is a lot of sodium and 0.1g sodium or less is a little sodium.

How much salt should I be eating?

On average we're eating about 9 grams of salt a day, which is about two teaspoonfuls. But it's recommended that we try to cut this down to less than 6 grams of salt a day.

What are the health effects from eating too much salt?

For some people, eating a lot of salt in their diet might lead to high blood pressure, which in turn can lead to an increased risk of strokes, heart disease and kidney disease.

Is sea salt better for you?

There are minute traces of minerals in sea salt, which you don't find in ordinary salt. But it's just as important for health to cut down your intake of sea salt.

How can I eat less salt?

There are lots of ways to cut down. Here are a few suggestions for you to try:

  • Add less salt to your cooking.
  • Get out of the habit of adding salt at the table (try to remember to taste the food first).
  • Ccut down on salty snacks like crisps and nuts, and heavily salted foods such as bacon, cheese, pickles, smoked fish and many processed convenience meals.
  • Choose canned vegetables and pulses that are marked 'no added salt'.
  • Stock cubes are high in salt, so choose lower salt versions, or make your own. Or you could add more herbs and spices for flavour instead.
  • Cut down on sauces, especially soy sauce, as they are usually very high in salt.
  • Check the labels on processed foods, such as tinned or packet soups and ready-prepared meals, to find those with less added salt.

Source: UK Food Standards Agency

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