What are the right foods to choose for a healthy, balanced diet? by Liz Man

Healthy eating and a balanced diet is essential to every child's growth and development. It ensures that our bones are strong and our teeth are healthy. Our daily diets should include:

Fruit & Vegetables

Everyone should have at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. Fruit and vegetables do not have to be fresh to count as a portion, nor do they have to be eaten alone, they can also count if they are part of a meal.

As a rough guide, 1 portion is the amount that can fit in the palm of your hand. Below is a list of the types of fruit and vegetables that count towards your 5 a day:

  • Frozen fruit and vegetables

  • Tinned fruit and vegetables in natural juice or water with no added sugar or salt

  • Fruit and Vegetables cooked in dishes such as soups, stews or pasta

  • A 30g portion of dried fruit. This includes currants, dates, sultanas and figs. These should be eaten during mealtimes to reduce the impact on teeth.

  • Fruit and vegetables in convenience foods such as ready meals and ready prepared sauces, soups and desserts


Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are a good source of energy and the main source of a range of nutrients in our diet. As well as starch, they contain fibre, calcium, iron and B vitamins.

Carbohydrates such as potatoes, bread, rice and pasta should make up a third of the food we eat. Some carbohydrates contain more higher fibre such as, wholewheat pasta and brown rice.


Dairy/Dairy Alternatives

Dairy products such as milk, cheese and yoghurt are a great source of protein, calcium and vitamins, which forms part of a healthy and balanced diet.

By opting for lower fat versions will reduce the intake of fats and salt.

Protein

These foods are a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals.

Pulses such as beans, peas and lentils are a good alternative to meat as they are low in fat and high in fibre.

Choose lean cuts of meat and eat less red and processed meat such as bacon, ham and sausages as they are often high in saturated fat and salt. Red meat provides a good source of iron, zinc and vitamin B which is essential in our diet.

For a healthy and balanced diet, aim for two portions of fish a week, one should be an oily fish such as salmon or mackerel.

Fats

A small amount of fat is an essential part of a healthy

and balanced diet. Fat is a source of fatty acids which the body cannot make itself. Fats helps the body absorb vital vitamins such as vitamin A, D and E. Whilst all fats are high in energy, they should be eaten sparingly. Any fats, carbohydrates and protein not used by our body cells or turned into energy are converted into body fat.

Saturated fats are found in both sweet and savoury foods. Most come from animal sources including meat and dairy products as well as plant foods such as palm and coconut oils.

Food’s high in saturated fats include:

  • Fatty cuts of meat

  • Meat products such as sausages and pies

  • Butter, ghee and lard

  • Cheese

  • Cream, soured cream and ice-cream

  • Savoury snacks such as cheese crackers and popcorn

  • Chocolate

  • Biscuits, cakes and pastries

Unsaturated fats are healthier fats which can be found in vegetable, rapeseed, olive and sunflower oils, fish, a selection of nuts and avocados.

Water

The government recommends that you should drink 6 to 8 glasses of water a day. This includes hot drinks, smoothies and juices.

Water is a good and cheap choice for quenching thirst and it does not contain any calories or sugars that can damage teeth.


15 views0 comments