Your body needs energy and nutrients from food to grow and to work properly. If you don’t eat a healthy, balanced diet, you could be putting your health and growth at risk.
A healthy diet also gives you the energy you need, and can help you to look and feel great. But eating well doesn’t have to mean giving up all your favourite foods. A healthy diet means eating a wide range of foods so that you get all the nutrients you need, and eating the right number of calories for how active you are.
Beware of fad diets: they’re rarely the way to a healthy weight. Instead, use our tips to help you eat more healthily.
Don’t follow fad diets. Your body mass index (BMI) can tell you whether you are a healthy weight: check yours with our BMI healthy weight calculator. If you have an overweight BMI, aim to lose weight to bring your BMI into the healthy range. If you want to lose weight, it’s important to choose your diet plan carefully. It can be tempting to follow the latest fad diet, but these are often not nutritionally balanced, and don’t work in the long-term: once you stop, the weight is likely to come back. Diets based on only one or two foods may be successful in the short term, but can be dull and hard to stick to, and deficient in a range of nutrients.
If you often feel hungry, try eating more high-fibre foods such as wholemeal bread, beans and wholegrain breakfast cereals. Foods with fibre are bulky and help us to feel full for longer, and most of us should be eating more of them.
Aim to eat at least five portions of a variety of fruits and vegetables a day. They are good sources of many of the vitamins and minerals your body needs. It’s not as hard as it might sound: fruit juice, smoothies and vegetables baked into dishes such as stews can all count towards your total. Learn more at Why 5 A DAY?
Don’t skip breakfast. Some people skip breakfast because they think it will help them lose weight. But skipping meals doesn’t help you to lose weight and is not good for you, because you can miss out on essential nutrients. Research shows that eating breakfast can actually help people control their weight.
Make sure you drink enough fluids. Aim to drink six to eight glasses of fluids a day: water, unsweetened fruit juices and milk are all healthy choices.
Watch out for ”low-carb” diets, or any eating plans that advise you to cut out whole food groups. This can be unhealthy, because you may miss out on nutrients from that food group. Low-carb diets can be high in saturated fat, and eating too much saturated fat can cause high cholesterol. Other diets may involve cutting out dairy foods such as milk, yoghurt and cheese. These foods are high in calcium, which you need to ensure your bones grow properly. Choose lower-fat dairy foods when you can: 1% fat or skimmed milk is just as nutritious as full-fat.
At snack time, swap foods that are high in saturated fat or sugars for healthier choices. High saturated fat foods include pies, processed meats such as sausages and bacon, biscuits and crisps. Foods high in added sugars include cakes and pastries, sweets, and chocolate. Both saturated fat and sugar are high in calories, so if you eat these foods often you’re more likely to become overweight. And too much saturated fat can also cause high cholesterol.