Present diets are correlated with a high burden of disease: globally 1.9 billion adults are overweight or obese, 462 million are underweight and over 30% of the world’s population suffers from deficiencies of essential nutrients (WHO).
In the UK Public Health England developed the Eatwell Guide to show the government recommendations on what is considered a healthy diet with the help of this evidence-based guide. It is a good starting point for anyone who wants to know how to eat a healthy balanced diet.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet with a variety of foods in the right proportions can help us to maintain good health as well as lowering the risk of developing conditions such as heart disease, stroke, obesity, diabetes, and some cancers.
The Eatwell Guide does not cut out any food groups but focuses on cereals, potatoes, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, dairy, protein, and fibre consumption. It also recommends a reduced consumption of sugar, saturated fats, salt, and processed meats. Eating a healthy balanced diet has been linked with several health benefits including improved cardiovascular health and reduced cancer risk.
Research has shown that following a Mediterranean diet can have several benefits to our cardiovascular health and cognitive function. The Mediterranean diet focuses on wholegrain foods, fruit and vegetables, small amounts of dairy, good quality fats such as olive oil, quality sources of protein such as fish, pulses and eggs and more fresh produce, along with good amounts of rest and exercise.
Our traditional western diet tends to contain more processed foods and more refined sugars. Opting for healthier alternatives incorporating more plant-based foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds and lower animal-based foods, particularly fatty and processed meats can reduce our risk of non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Making small changes such as including an extra portion of fruit and vegetables, a walk twice a week or increasing your hydration with an extra glass of water can be a good starting point to improving your overall lifestyle.
Focus on including all food groups in your diet rather than excluding a food group (there are no good or bad foods) and focus on eating everything in moderation. All foods have a role and place in our diet.
Important – People with special dietary needs or a medical condition should ask their doctor or a registered dietitian for advice before following the above tips
Contact One You Merton for support to eat well, move more, drink less or stop smoking on 020 8973 3545 or you can register online.
Health matters: obesity and the food environment – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
How to get more fibre into your diet – NHS (www.nhs.uk)
Defining a Healthy Diet: Evidence for the Role of Contemporary Dietary Patterns in Health and Disease (nih.gov)
Health impacts and environmental footprints of diets that meet the Eatwell Guide recommendations: analyses of multiple UK studies | BMJ Open
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