Eating a healthy, balanced diet is an integral part of maintaining good health. It can help reduce our risk of developing certain cancers, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke, as well as helping us to maintain a healthy weight and support our mental health.

Nourishing our bodies 

No one food contains all the nutrients we need, so it’s important to get a variety of different foods in the right proportions. 

<span class='TextRun SCXW166379954 BCX8' lang='EN-GB' xml:lang='EN-GB' data-contrast='auto'><span class='NormalTextRun SCXW166379954 BCX8'>Fats have an essential role in the body. They provide energy, help </span><span class='NormalTextRun SCXW166379954 BCX8'>our bodies </span><span class='NormalTextRun SCXW166379954 BCX8'>absorb fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K, provide essential</span><span class='NormalTextRun SCXW166379954 BCX8'> fatty acids</span><span class='NormalTextRun SCXW166379954 BCX8'> </span><span class='NormalTextRun SCXW166379954 BCX8'>omega 3 and 6</span><span class='NormalTextRun SCXW166379954 BCX8'>, and help to regulate our hunger hormones (ghrelin and leptin)</span><span class='NormalTextRun SCXW166379954 BCX8'>. However, </span><span class='NormalTextRun SCXW166379954 BCX8'>the </span></span><span class='TextRun SCXW166379954 BCX8' lang='EN-GB' xml:lang='EN-GB' data-contrast='auto'><span class='NormalTextRun SCXW166379954 BCX8'>quality</span></span><span class='TextRun SCXW166379954 BCX8' lang='EN-GB' xml:lang='EN-GB' data-contrast='auto'><span class='NormalTextRun SCXW166379954 BCX8'> and </span></span><span class='TextRun SCXW166379954 BCX8' lang='EN-GB' xml:lang='EN-GB' data-contrast='auto'><span class='NormalTextRun SCXW166379954 BCX8'>quantity</span></span><span class='TextRun SCXW166379954 BCX8' lang='EN-GB' xml:lang='EN-GB' data-contrast='auto'><span class='NormalTextRun SCXW166379954 BCX8'> of fats in our diet is important. </span></span><span class='EOP SCXW166379954 BCX8' data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'>There are 2 main types of fat – saturated and unsaturated. </span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'><strong>Saturated fats</strong> are mainly found in animal foods (like red meat, processed meat, butter, cream and cheese) and foods that are fried, takeaways, fast foods, pastries, chocolate, crisps, cakes, biscuits etc.  Some vegetable fats like coconut oil, palm oil and cocoa oil also are high in saturated fat. A high intake of saturated fat is associated with raising blood cholesterol levels and an increased risk of heart disease. </span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'><strong>Unsaturated fats</strong> are separated into monounsaturated and polyunsaturated and are found in oily fish (like salmon, mackerel, herring, anchovies, trout and sardines), nuts and seeds, avocados and vegetable oils like olive, rapeseed, sunflower and sesame oil.  There is strong evidence to support that swapping saturated fats for unsaturated works to raise HDL (good) cholesterol, and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol,</span><span data-contrast='none'> </span><span data-contrast='none'>which can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.</span><span data-contrast='auto'> For more information on cholesterol </span><strong><a href='' target='_blank' rel='noopener'>here</a></strong></p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'>Most of us are getting enough </span><i><span data-contrast='auto'>total</span></i><span data-contrast='auto'> fat in our diet, but the </span><i><span data-contrast='auto'>type</span></i><span data-contrast='auto'> of fat we eat could be improved i.e. eating more foods high in unsaturated fat.</span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'><strong>*WARNING…</strong> Products marketed as ‘low fat’ are not necessarily a better option – frequently they contain more sugar than their full fat counterparts. Less fat also means less satiety, meaning we’re more likely to feel hungry sooner and reach for snacks. It’s more important to focus on the </span><i><span data-contrast='auto'>types</span></i><span data-contrast='auto'> of fat and the proportion of unsaturated to saturated.   </span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><i><span data-contrast='auto'>How much?</span></i><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'>It’s recommended we keep our total fat per day below 70g, with no more than 20g of that coming from saturated fat. </span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><i><span data-contrast='auto'>What counts as a portion:</span></i><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'>1 tsp butter/ spread</span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'>1 tsp oil </span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'>½ an avocado</span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'>Palm sized portion (140g) of oily fish (mackerel, salmon, herring etc)</span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'>1 tbsp/ handful of nuts or good quality nut butter</span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'>1 tbsp of seeds like flax or chia </span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'>2 tbsp hummus or tahini </span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span>
<span data-contrast='auto'>Starchy carbohydrates (e.g. bread, potatoes, rice, pasta and cereals) are our body’s main source of energy. </span><span data-contrast='none'> </span><span data-contrast='none'>In simple terms, </span><span data-contrast='auto'>they a</span><span data-contrast='auto'>re broken down into ‘glucose’ (a type of sugar).  This glucose is then taken from our blood and transported around the body to be used as fuel.  </span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><span data-contrast='none'>There are many different types of these foods (i.e. ‘white’ or ‘brown’ versions), but the brown or </span><b><span data-contrast='none'>wholegrain</span></b><span data-contrast='none'> versions can have up to 75% more nutrients than refined (white) versions and have superior fibre content.</span><span data-contrast='auto'>  Fibre supports digestive health, helps to keep us fuller for longer, </span><span data-contrast='auto'>reduces the risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease</span><span data-contrast='auto'> and there is strong evidence to support that a diet high in fibre reduces the risk of bowel cancers.  It’s recommended adults in the UK have 30g fibre per day, but on average we’re only getting about 18g.  Getting wholegrains in our diet helps to ensure we meet out recommended intake of fibre for the day.</span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><i><span data-contrast='auto'>How much?</span></i><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'>Aim for 3 portions a day. Aiming for wholegrain or higher fibre options were possible. </span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><i><span data-contrast='auto'>What counts as a portion:</span></i><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'>2 medium boiled potatoes or 4 baby potatoes</span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'>1 medium baked potato (with skin)</span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'>3 tbsp mash potato</span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'>1 plantain</span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'>1 heaped tbsp uncooked porridge oats</span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'>3 tbsp of lower sugar whole grain cereal (e.g. bran flakes or shredded wheat)</span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'>1 medium slice wholemeal bread</span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'>2-3 tbsp cooked brown rice</span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'>2-3 tbsp cooked wholewheat pasta</span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'>3 handfuls of plain popcorn</span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'>2 rye crisp breads</span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'>2 oatcakes</span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span>
<span data-contrast='auto'>Fruit and vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals, including folate, Vitamin C and potassium, as well as a variety of phytochemicals (naturally occurring plant substances) and fibre. Many of these nutrients are also powerful antioxidants, protecting the body from harmful free radicals that can cause disease. 80g of fresh, frozen or tinned fruit and vegetables counts as a portion. (Fresh and frozen are best, but tinned also count as long as they are in their natural juices).</span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><strong><i>How much?</i> </strong></p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'>Evidence shows there are significant benefits from consuming 5 or more different portions of fruit and veg every day and it also shows, as a population, we are not eating enough fruit and veg.  It is usually recommended to aim for more vegetables than fruit, </span><span data-contrast='none'>because of the natural sugars contained in fruit, but it’s important to be eating fruit and veg every day to make sure you get the variation of nutrients from these foods. </span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><strong>This would look like:</strong><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'>3 heaped tbsp of veg (raw, cooked, frozen or tinned)</span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'>3 heaped tbsp of pulses (beans, peas, lentils) (only counts toward 1 of 5 a day regardless of how many portions you have)</span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'>1 cereal sized bowl of green leafy veg like spinach, kale, watercress or lettuce</span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'>1 banana, orange, pear, apple or similar sized fruit</span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'>2 satsumas, plums or similar sized fruit</span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'>½ grapefruit or avocado</span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'>1 slice of melon or pineapple</span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'>A handful (10-12) grapes or berries</span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'>3 heaped tbsp fruit salad (fresh or tinned)</span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p> </p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'>Or 30g dried fruit</span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span><strong>Which would look like:</strong><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'>1 heaped tbsp of sultanas, raisins, currants or cranberries (have as part of a meal rather than a snack to reduce the impact on teeth)</span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><strong><i>What about juices?</i></strong><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'>A glass of fresh juice can be a great addition to our diet, particularly for someone struggling to get enough servings of fruit and vegetables every day. However, where possible, try to have whole fruits instead of juices. Juices can contain large amounts of sugar and much less of that all-important fibre.   If you’re keen to include some juices as part of your diet, try adding veg, like spinach, kale, cucumber carrot and beetroot. And limit intake to no more than 1 small glass (150ml) per day.  </span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span>
The main role of protein in the body is for growth, repair and maintenance of cells, and it also provides some energy. Most people associate it with building and maintaining muscle, but it also works to build and repair cartilage, ligaments, skin, hair and other tissues, as well as making enzymes, hormones and antibodies for our immune system.</p> <p>Complete sources of protein, i.e. those that contain all 9 essential amino acids which our body cannot make itself are usually animal sources like meat, fish and dairy.</p> <p>Plant sources of protein like pulses, tofu and soya products, nuts, seeds and wholegrains generally contain some essential amino acids but not all, so we need a variety of different plants and grains to make sure we get all the essential amino acids we need.</p> <p><strong>How much?</strong></p> <p>In general, the recommended amount of protein for adults is 0.75g per kg bodyweight per day.  On average this works out about 56g per day for men and 45g for women – or 2 palm sized portions of protein rich food like meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, pulses (peas, beans and lentils), whole grains and soy-based products.</p> <p>Our requirements for protein can vary depending on different factors including; weight, duration and intensity of exercise and different disease states. You can find more information on specific individual protein requirements <a href='' target='_blank' rel='noopener'><strong>here</strong></a>.</p> <p>However, most of us are already eating above the requirements already. The average daily intake in the UK for men is 88g per day, and 64g for women, so it’s generally unnecessary to increase protein intake. Although excess protein in our diet has not been found to be harmful (except for those with certain health conditions), excess can potentially be stored as fat. And some high protein foods (like red meat) can be high in saturated fat. For this reason, try and choose leaner cuts of meat and opt for chicken, turkey or fish more often than red meat like beef, pork or lamb.</p> <p><strong>What counts as a portion:</strong></p> <p>60-90g cooked meat (like beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, pork), which would look like:</p> <p>4-6 tbsp cooked mince</p> <p>½ cooked chicken breast</p> <p>4 tbsp beans (kidney beans, butter beans, black eyed beans or baked beans)</p> <p>4 tbsp pulses (chickpeas, lentils etc)</p> <p>Palm sized portion (140g) of oily fish (mackerel, salmon, herring etc)</p> <p>Palm sized portion (140g) white or canned fish (drained)</p> <p>2 eggs</p> <p>4 tbsp soya/tofu or vegetable-based meat alternative</p> <p>1 tbsp/ handful of nuts or good quality nut butter
<span data-contrast='auto'>Dairy foods play an important role in a healthy balanced diet. They are a good source of protein, vitamin B12, vitamin B2, iodine and calcium.  Calcium is essential in the formation of strong teeth and bones, but also has a role to play in the nervous system, blood clotting and muscle contraction.</span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><strong><i>How much?</i> </strong></p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'>Adults in the UK require 700mg of calcium per day, which is about 3 portions of a dairy or fortified alternative food, although requirements are higher for those with specific health conditions, women who are breastfeeding or women who have gone through the menopause. More information on this can be found </span><a href='' target='_blank' rel='noopener'><strong>here</strong></a><span data-contrast='auto'>.</span><span data-contrast='none'> </span></p> <p><strong><i>What counts as a portion:</i></strong><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'>1 glass (200ml) dairy milk or fortified alternative*</span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'>3 tbsp plain or natural yogurt </span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'>Small matchbox size piece (30g) of hard cheese </span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'>2 tbsp (30g) calcium fortified cereals</span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'>1 tin of sardines or pilchards (with bones)</span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p> </p> <p><em>*Always check the label to ensure fortification. </em><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span>
Sweets and treat food are NOT an essential part of the diet, but a little now and then can certainly be a part of an overall balanced diet.</p> <p><strong>How much?</strong></p> <p>Treat foods are typically high in:</p> <p>Sugar,</p> <p>Salt and</p> <p>Saturated Fat</p> <p>Added sugar – this is sugar not found naturally within foods but is added to foods.</p> <p>Adults should try and limit this to less than 30g per day. To put this in to perspective, this equates to 6 jelly babies!</p> <p>It’s easy to see why the average adult is estimated to have over 3 times the recommended limit per day.</p> <p>Sugar can be hidden in many foods under a host of different names including; corn sugar, dextrose, fructose, glucose, high-fructose glucose syrup, honey, maple syrup, agave syrup, invert sugar, isoglucose, levulose, maltose, molasses and sucrose.</p> <p>High intakes of sugar are associated with a range of health problems including weight gain, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.</p> <p>While the term ‘low sugar’ is legally protected, meaning if it’s used on a product it must contain less than 5g sugar per 100g food, beware of terms like ‘reduced sugar’, ‘no added sugar’ and ‘less sugar’, they are simply marketing terms used to make a food look ‘healthier’.</p> <p>Some treat foods can also contain high amounts of salt e.g. takeaways, fast food, processed meats, crisps, coated nuts etc.</p> <p>The recommended amount for adults in the UK is no more than 6g (on average our current intake is around 8g). Too much salt is linked with high blood pressure, which is associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease and stroke.</p> <p>For more information on salt and tips on reducing your salt intake, <a href='' target='_blank' rel='noopener'><strong>click here</strong></a>.
<span data-contrast='auto'>‘Carbs’ encompass a range of food types.  In simple terms, carbs refer to foods that are broken down into ‘sugar’ by our body.  </span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'>Evidence about our sugar consumption is becoming very clear; too much of it is bad for us, and we are eating far too much of it in our diets.</span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'>Scientifically, based on the molecular structure, there is a range of different types of sugar e.g. glucose, fructose, lactose or sucrose (which is a sugar made of glucose and fructose and is what table sugar is made of).  </span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'>In the practical world, however, thinking about our diet and nutrition, there are 2 sugars to be mindful of:</span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><strong><i>Natural sugar</i></strong><span data-contrast='auto'> – found in whole foods like fruits and vegetables</span><span data-ccp-props='{"134233279":true,"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'>Natural sugars are the types of sugar that occur naturally in food.  Foods such as fruit, vegetables, potatoes, milk, etc.  In most of these cases, these foods have other components that are nutritious and essential for a healthy nourishing diet, e.g. fibre, vitamins, minerals, so consuming them as part of our diet is not only ok, but is actually key to achieving a healthy nutritious diet.</span><span data-ccp-props='{"134233279":true,"201341983":0,"335559685":720,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><strong><i>Added sugar</i></strong><span data-contrast='auto'> – artificially added to food products in their production.</span><span data-ccp-props='{"134233279":true,"201341983":0,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span></p> <p><span data-contrast='auto'>Food manufacturers can process food to extract the sugars from their natural state and add them into food products they produce.  In these cases, these ‘added sugars’, sometimes referred to as ‘refined’ sugars, are used in processed foods to add flavour.</span><span data-ccp-props='{"201341983":0,"335559685":720,"335559739":160,"335559740":240}'> </span>

Further support 

Making changes to out diet can be hard, especially when our current habits have been built up over a lifetime. It can be difficult to know how or where to begin. The people who are successful in making changes to their nutrition are the people who take one step at a time. So, pick one thing, allow yourself the time to build that new behaviour into your life, before moving on to your next goal.   But you’re not alone. We’re here to support you.

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