Having a healthy diet can dramatically improve your general health. Eating healthily is simple if you follow a small number of basic rules. Firstly, you should eat a range of foods, which involves several food groups; you should not cut out whole food groups as this will be detrimental to your health in the long-run. Treats should be moderated but not cut out; this will make you crave them more and may be counter-productive. Home-cooked foods are healthier as you can control what is put in your foods; ready meals are often high in salt and don’t contain as many vitamins and minerals as natural foods. Try to encourage children to try a wide range of foods from an early age; this will usually make them more open to eating different foods in later life and will make them less fussy.
A healthy diet
A healthy diet should include a balance of foods from food groups, which include carbohydrates, proteins, fats and fruit and vegetables.
Complex carbohydrates should form the basis of your diet, accounting for approximately 1/3 of your daily calories intake. These foods help to keep the body fuelled as they release energy slowly. Examples of these foods include rice, cereals, bread and pasta. It is recommended that you try to eat whole grain versions of these foods as they have a lower GI (glycaemic index) number and will make you feel full for longer; they are also beneficial for your heart. Simple carbohydrates which are commonly found in sugary foods provide a quick burst of energy; they should be moderated as they may affect the sugar levels in the blood stream and are harmful to your teeth.
Proteins are essential for effective growth and development and should account for 10-15% of your daily calorie intake. Foods that are rich in protein include fish, eggs and meat. High protein foods are often low in fat and a good source of energy and minerals. Protein can also be found in pulses such as beans and lentils.
Fat is an essential part of our diet but it should be controlled and monitored carefully. You should try to eat unsaturated fats, which are contained in foods such as oily fish, nuts and avocadoes. Saturated fats can cause arteries to become blocked, which can affect the health of the major organs, particularly the heart.
Five a day
Fruit and vegetables contain a huge range of nutrients, vitamins and minerals which enable the body to function effectively and efficiently. You should try to at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables each day; this may include soups, juices, smoothies and sauces, as well as individual pieces of fruit. You should try to eat a wide range of fruit and vegetables each day as this will ensure you get an array of different vitamins and minerals.
It is important to stick to the recommended daily intake of calcium as this helps to increase the strength of your bones, teeth and nails. Children should have lots of calcium to help their teeth and bones grow and develop. Calcium-rich foods include milk, yoghurts and cheese.