Eight Guidelines for a healthy diet by Flourish Organics Diet & Nutrition

Eight Guidelines for a healthy diet

1. Enjoy your food

Food should be one of life's pleasures, to be savoured and enjoyed. There is enough stress in life already without adding to it by worrying unnecessarily about food. It is worthwhile to take time to enjoy food with family and friends and to be a bit adventurous in trying recipes and new ways of cooking

2. Eat a variety of different foods

There is no one food that will provide all the nutrients we need. (Apart from human milk which provides for a baby's need in the first few months of life.) For this reason it is important to eat a wide variety of foods, and to make sure we include foods from all of the main food groups.

3. Eat the right amount to be a healthy weight

Body weight is the result of the balance between the amount of energy (usually measured in Calories) taken in and the amount used up. People who eat more Calories than they use will gain weight.

The more physically active you are, the greater your energy need. It is sensible for all of us to increase our activity level, and thus our energy expenditure, to improve our health and well-being. By cutting down very strictly on food intake to keep body weight down, not enough of the essential nutrients will be eaten. A healthy balance of food and exercise is the best plan.

4. Eat plenty of foods rich in starch and fibre

Most people do not eat enough starchy foods, but these foods are valuable sources of fibre, especially wholegrain cereals. These foods are also very versatile and can be used in lots of different, interesting ways.

To get a well-balanced diet you should have plenty of the starchy foods, at two, or preferably three, meals daily. When you have a main meal, most of the space on the plate should be taken up with starchy foods and vegetables, with the meat or alternative being quite a small amount in proportion.

5. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables

Fruit and vegetables are protective foods, because they contain vitamins and minerals, which help to keep us healthy. They may also protect us from other diseases, such as coronary heart disease, and some forms of cancer. It is advised that we eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day and with such a wide variety now available in the shops, and so many delicious recipes that contain different types of fruit and vegetables, this should be no problem at all.

6. Cut down on foods containing a lot of fat

A certain a mount of fat is essential in our diets and in particular we need small amounts of the so-called "essential fatty acids". This means that our bodies cannot manufacture these fatty acids, and they have to be eaten in our diets. Some fats are good sources of important vitamins, and fat helps to make our diets more palatable and interesting.

There is evidence that too high a proportion of fat in the diet leads to coronary heart disease - another reason to limit the amount of fat we eat.

There are several different kinds of fat and these may have different effects on the cholesterol level of our blood, but it is important to remember that the energy (Calorie) contents of all fat is the same.

The most important thing is to reduce the total amount of fat in the diet and then decide what kind of fat you want to use within that reduced amount.

7. Don't have sugary foods and drinks too often

Most of us enjoy the taste of sweet things, but if sweet foods are eaten only at meal times it will help to protect our teeth.

Sugar (white, brown, honey, syrup) provides energy (Calories) but very little in the way of other nutrients. That is why it is sensible for people who are overweight to cut right down on their intake of sugar and sugary foods, in order to maintain health in the long term.

8. If you drink alcohol, drink sensibly

For most people alcohol is something to be enjoyed and it can enhance the pleasure at a meal or on a social occasion. Research has shown that a certain amount of alcohol may improve some aspects of health. However, moderation is the important aspect to remember, as there are also a number of risks with drinking alcohol and is sensible to know the limits and not to exceed these.

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