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The human body needs proper nutrition to function effectively, it’s a vital part of nurturing a healthy body and mind. The amount we need to eat and drink depends on factors, such as size and age etc. But in general, we should aim to consume a wide variety of foods in the right proportions.

Eating a good, balanced diet is an important part of maintaining a healthy body weight and protecting the body against illness and disease. Plus, that’s where we get our energy from! With a wider variety of foods available to us and numerous recipes on the internet, it’s now easier to make sure we’re consuming those vital nutrients.

The NHS recommends to have a healthy, balanced diet, you should aim to:

1. Eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables every day

These are a good source of vitamins, minerals and fibre, and should make up just over a third of the food you eat daily. The fruit and vegetables can be fresh, frozen, canned, dried or juiced - making it more achievable to consume the recommended 5-a-day.

A portion can be:

- 80g of fruit and vegetables.
- 30g of dried fruit.
- 150ml glass of fruit juice or smoothie but, stick to one a day as fruit contains natural sugars.
- An apple, banana, pear or similar-sized fruit.

2. Starchy foods

They should make up just over a third of everything you eat and are found in foods such as potatoes, bread, rice or pasta. Another great source of fibre, vitamins and minerals, the wholemeal varieties are also the healthier option.

3. Dairy or dairy alternatives

Milk and dairy foods, such as cheese and yoghurt, are good sources of protein and calcium - good for healthy bones. Lower-fat and lower-sugar varieties are again the recommended options for maintaining a healthy diet.

Soya is a popular product many people use as an alternative to dairy products. Choose the unsweetened and fortified products when possible.

4. Beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other protein

The human body needs protein to grow and repair itself. These foods are also a great source of vitamins and minerals, including iron and B vitamins.

When eating meat, choose lean cuts or skinless poultry to reduce the fat content. Also try to reduce the amount of red and processed meat you consume.

Eggs and fish are also good sources of protein, and contain many vitamins and minerals. Oily fish is particularly rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Aim for two portions of fish a week to maintain a healthy diet.

Pulses, including beans, peas and lentils, are naturally very low in fat and high in fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals.

Nuts are high in fibre, with unsalted nuts a popular snack. Be warned though, they still contain high levels of fat, so eat in moderation.

5. Unsaturated oils and spreads

A balanced diet needs fat, but in the correct amounts amounts. It's important to get most of your fat from unsaturated oils and spreads. All types of fat are high in energy and should be eaten in small amounts.

The NHS also recommends we should be drinking at least 6 to 8 glasses of water a day.

It’s not always easy to maintain a healthy, balanced diet, especially when surveys show people in the UK consume an excessive amount of saturated fat, sugar and salt. They’re present in so many of our favourite food and drinks too, so it’s very easy to consume too many calories.

A balanced diet, along with an active lifestyle, is proven to help us live better and be more productive. In many ways, it’s about developing good habits and becoming more creative and adventurous to achieve the goal of a healthy body and mind.

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If you're struggling to control your weight or you simply want to change your dietary habits, Chris Hill's Get Your Life Back can help you. This residential retreat takes place at Chantry House on 6th-8th December. Full details for this event, and more, is available in our Wellbeing section.

Sources and external links (we do not have any control over content on external websites):

NHS - Eat Well
NHS Weight Loss Plan
Healthline

26
Nov

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