What is a 'healthy diet'?
We all know we should eat “healthily”, but what does this mean?
A healthy diet is a balanced diet which includes food from all the major food groups in the right proportions, and in quantities which maintain a healthy body weight. The “Eatwell” plate (PDF) shows you how much of your food should come from each food group.
More information about the different food groups.
Benefits of a healthy diet
Eating well has multiple benefits, including:
- Increased energy
- Improved sleep quality
- Improved mood and mental wellbeing
- Helping you maintain a healthy body weight
- Clearer skin
- Lowering the risk of chronic health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer
More information about the effects of diet on your health.
Eating well at work
We consume at least a third of our daily calories whilst at work, and what we eat and drink affects our work performance as well as our health. Eating healthily can help to improve concentration and boost our energy levels, as well as reducing levels of stress, and drinking plenty of water prevents headaches, fatigue and dizziness from dehydration.
Why not set yourself and your colleagues an eating at work challenge to make small, healthy changes to your diet?
Tips: How to get your five-a-day
Only 15% of adults in the UK eat five portions of fruit and vegetables each day. If you struggle to meet this target, there are some simple ways you can fit in more servings throughout your day.
- Have a piece of fruit with your tea break rather than a biscuit
- Make vegetable-packed soups for your lunch (beware of pre-packaged soups with a high salt content)
- Add some fruit to your breakfast cereal, such as a sliced banana
- Don’t forget that pulses, lentils and beans count as one of your five-a-day. Chickpeas and lentils make great curry bases
NHS Choices provides more tips on getting your five-a-day, as well as information about what counts as a fruit or vegetable portion size.
Vitamin D has several important functions. For example, it helps to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body. These nutrients are needed to keep bones and teeth healthy.
We get most of our vitamin D from sunlight on our skin. The vitamin is made by our body under the skin, in reaction to summer sunlight. However, if you are out in the sun, take care to cover up or protect your skin with sunscreen before you turn red or get burnt. Vitamin D is also found in a small number of foods.
A lack of vitamin D can lead to bone deformities such as rickets in children, and bone pain and tenderness as a result of a condition called osteomalacia in adults. See the following useful links for more information on good sources of vitamin D, groups of the population at risk of not getting enough vitamin D, and new guidelines on vitamin D.
One way to make healthy changes to your diet is to make simple food swaps – for example, choose wholegrain instead of white bread, choose a breakfast cereal which is high in fibre and isn’t sugar coated, opt for frozen yogurt instead of ice cream, or choose a low-fat variety of products such as cheese and mayonnaise. Be aware that some ‘reduced-fat’ products may still have a high fat content, or may be high in salt or sugar, and therefore need to be consumed in moderation. Read the labels!
More food swap ideas.
An ‘eating disorder’ is an abnormal attitude towards food which causes someone to change their eating behaviours. This definition includes a range of conditions, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia, which affect a person’s physical and psychological wellbeing. For more information about the symptoms and causes of eating disorders, and the support available in your area, see the eating disorders page.