A balanced diet is essential for our bodies to work effectively and keep us in good health. We all need a good combination of food to ensure we get all the required nutrients.

There are five basic food groups.

· Fruit and vegetables
· Bread, other cereals and potatoes
· Milk and dairy products
· Meat, fish and alternatives
· Foods containing fat, and foods containing sugar.

T he following points will help you understand this information, and should become part of your daily eating habits. You can start by taking small steps; you will begin to feel the benefit straight away. The most important thing is to start.

F ruit and Vegetables

A im for five of these a day You should eat an Orange, Banana, or Apple for a snack. Try and serve fresh vegetables or side salad with main meals. A glass of fresh Orange juice or Grapefruit juice is an ideal way to start the day.

U se any kind of fruit and vegetables, including fresh, frozen, tinned, dried and pure unsweetened fruit juices. Make sure tinned fruits are in fruit juices and not syrup.

B read C ereals and P otatoes

A im for six slices of bread a day
Eat plenty of starchy food like
rice beans

T ry to make sure they contain as much of their natural fibre as possible.

M ilk and D airy P roducts

W here possible, choose low-fat dairy products and try and keep away from "hard " fats such as lard, margarine and butter.

Use low-fat spreads and use sparingly in cooking. Drinking about half a pint of milk a day (skimmed or semi- skimmed) and whole milk for children is good for you.

M eat F ish & P rotein Alternatives

A im to eat fish two or three times a week Small portions of chicken, fish, meat, and eggs, beans and lentils give you the protein you need for a balanced diet.

T ry to eat oil-rich fish, such as sardine's, herring, mackerel, salmon and tuna. Remember to drain off excess fat.

F at & S ugar

T ry and cut down on sugary foods and drinks. Reduce the amount of sugar you have in your tea coffee, do this bit by bit you wont even notice. Avoid sprinkling sugar on food. Make cakes and sweets a special treat instead of an every day item.

If you only buy them now and again instead of keeping them in house they will be a lot easier to resist Try to use more vegetable-based oils and spreads, such as sunflower or olive oil.

Avoid adding salt to your meals and limit any addition to your cooking. It may take as long as two weeks, but a diet with no salt added will become tasteful after excess salt is removed.

Every 6 months have a blood test or hair analysis to establish vitamins and mineral status. · Drink at least 1 pint of water a day. The body uses water and water alone. If you add anything to water the body has to separate the water from it, i.e., tea, coffee, cordial, juices.

Take a look at our Vitamin and mineral page. Below are the best books and outlets to find out all you need to know about healthy eating.


S alt is the common for sodium chloride, a compound that occurs naturally in our food. Salt is made up of 40% sodium 60% chioride. It is the sodium in salt, which plays an important role in controlling the fluid balance in our bodies. Salt is also needed to ensure that our muscles and nerves work, as they should, and to maintain normal blood pressure. However, it is thought that too much sodium in the diet may contribute to high blood pressure in some people. The amount of salt needed is just over 1- 1/2 grams per day. We consume this amount each day from the sodium, which occurs, naturally in our food.

Foods High in Sodium

T able salt - smoked fish - dried packet soup - baked beans in tomato sauce - canned soup - bread - breakfast cereals - pickles and salad dressings - dry roasted peanuts - very low fat spreads - cured or canned meats - prawns - stock cubes - sausage and burgers - tomato ketchup - hard cheeses - milk - crisps - salted butter and margarine.

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