Once you feel you have a more regular eating pattern, medical the next stage is to focus on the healthiness of your diet. Healthy eating is about enjoying a variety of foods and getting the balance right. With time it¬ís bound to become your natural choice as you reap the benefits; including easier weight control.
Here are the basics:
Bread, other cereals and potatoes
- This includes healthy energy foods such as bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, cereals and noodles.
- Make them part of meals and choose whole grain or wholemeal types for extra vitamins, minerals and fibre.
- Whole grains help stabilise blood sugar levels and keep you fuller for longer. Eating them daily as been linked to a reduced risk of obesity, heart disease and type II diabetes.
- Keep it lean by skipping creamy sauces, fried versions, thick butter or spread.
Fruit and vegetables
- Go for at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables every day - fresh, frozen, canned, dried and juiced all count.
- Aim to include some at every meal and snack.
- Fruit and veg brim with vitamins, minerals, fibre and protective antioxidants and phytochemicals (protective natural compounds in plants).
- For optimal health benefits vary the colours of your fruit and veg.
- Keep it lean by skipping rich cream, or lots of oil or oily dressings or sauces.
Milk and dairy foods
- Enjoy two to three portions of milk and dairy products (or calcium-fortified soya alternatives) for protein, bone-building calcium and energy releasing B vitamins.
- A portion could be 200ml milk, 150g pot of yoghurt 30g cheese.
- Keep it lean by choosing skimmed or semi-skimmed milk, low fat yoghurts and fromage frais (watch the sugar too) and lower fat cheeses such as Edam, Brie, half fat Cheddar or goats cheese.
Meat, fish and alternatives
- Keep to moderate servings of lean meat, fish, chicken, eggs, pulses, tofu, nuts or seeds for protein, iron, B vitamins, zinc, magnesium and selenium.
- For your heart¬ís sake aim to eat fish at least twice a week and make one portion an oily fish such as mackerel, salmon, pilchards, sardines or fresh tuna.
- Keep it lean by skipping the deep-fryer and grilling, baking, char-grilling, poaching, stir-frying or using in a low fat, vegetable-based sauce.
Foods and drinks containing fat and/or sugar
- Keep to small amounts of fatty or sugary foods and drinks such as cakes, biscuits, pastry, crisps, fizzy drinks and fruit drinks - about one portion daily.
- Swap sugar for low-calorie sweeteners in drinks, cooking and on cereals or fruit.
- Unsaturated oils and spreads provide vitamins D and E, and essential fats but use very modest amounts.
- Limit salt and salty foods too.
- For more information see Food and Shopping.
Keep it simple
When serving up your meals, a simple way to get both balance and healthy proportions, is to divide your plate in half then fill one half with salad or vegetables. Now divide the other half between protein-rich foods like meat, fish, eggs or beans, and carbohydrate-rich potatoes, rice, pasta, pulses, bread or noodles. If you are having a combined dish such as a lasagne, or a fish or shepherds pie, then fill the protein and carbohydrate half of your plate with that combination.