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Balanced Eating

As a guide to healthy eating, make sure you have foods from each food group:

Fruit and Vegetables

A minimum of 5 portions a day are recommended. This includes dried, tinned and juiced. You cannot include the same fruit or vegetable twice, and potatoes do not count. Try to get as many different colours of fruit and vegetables in your diet as possible as these will contribute an assortment of anti-oxidants , which protect from cancers and heart disease.

When having a meal, about 2/5 of the plate should be made up of vegetables or salad.

Starchy foods

These are our staples and include potatoes, rice, pasta, bread, cassava, and sweet potato. It is best to try and have the wholegrain variety which will contain more fibre and substances that can protect you from heart disease and cancers. The number of helpings of these will depend on your overall energy requirement. When having a meal, they should make up 2/5ths of your plate. An average man requires about 6 portions of the starchy foods a day. Carbohydrates should make up 50% of the calories from your diet.

Starchy foods help to fill you up without providing too many calories. Wholegrain and unrefined starches also help to provide a long-term supply of energy which should stop you reaching for calorie rich snacks between meals

Protein

You only need around 2 portions of this group a day which include meat, fish, cheese, eggs, nuts and beans. When having a meal, the protein part should only take up about 1/5 of the plate. Proteins should make up around 15% of the calories from your diet.

Dairy

You need 3-4 helpings of these foods a day to ensure you get sufficient calcium in the diet. If milk products are not tolerated, then you will need to ensure that you regularly eat rich calcium alternatives such as fortified soya products . The dairy  group includes cheese, milk and yogurts. A portion is equivalent to 1 small pot of yogurt, 28g (1 oz) of cheese and 1/3 pint (around 150mls) of milk.

Fats/oils and sugars

This group include pastries, cakes, biscuits, jams and sweets.  You should not eat too much of these foods as they can lead to weight gain and tend to provide low nutrional value. However, they can be included as part of your overall diet provided they don't form the major part of it.

Fats should make up no more than 35% of the calories from your diet. It should be noted that fat provides twice as many calories gram for gram compared to carbohydrates and protein.

Some oil is needed in the diet, but the amount required is very little. Oils and fats can provide essential fatty acids and fat soluble vitamins. Although weight for weight all oils and fats contribute the same number of calories, and are very calorie dense, some are better for heart health than others and, in small amount, may positively protect against heart disease. Such oils include the monosaturated fats found in olive oil, rapeseed oil, nuts and avocados. Fish oils are also beneficial to health, as are some seeds and rapeseed (canola) oil which contain a high percentage of omega 3 fats.

Overconsuming saturated and trans fats can increase your risk of heart disease.

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