Eating a healthy, balanced and varied diet is key. The more restricted a diet is, the less healthy it will be. So, rather than following a strict “clean eating diet”, it is better to eat a balanced, varied diet.
A big trend over the last decade has been to cut out various food groups like dairy and carbohydrates. However, if you miss out certain food groups from your diet, then this can affect your overall health and may put you at an increased risk of nutritional deficiencies.
What should I be eating?
Five foods you should be incorporating into your diet are:
1 Fruit and Vegetables
Increasing your consumption of fruit and vegetables has been shown to be a key component of a healthy diet and the prevention of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Some studies have shown that fruit and vegetable intake is associated with mortality. So, the more fruit and vegetables consumed the lower the risk of mortality, especially from cardiovascular disease.
Fruit and vegetables are full of essential nutrients and antioxidants. They are also healthier alternatives to high sugar or high-fat snacks.
2 Starchy Carbohydrates
Starchy carbohydrates are essential energy providers. When we eat carbohydrates, they are broken down into a sugar, glucose, the body’s main fuel source. Starchy carbohydrates are also a good source of fibre as well as nutrients like iron B vitamins, folate and calcium. Fibre is important for our digestive health and is linked to a lower incidence of bowel cancer, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
You should try to base your meals on starchy carbohydrates. You should opt for starchy foods which are lower in fat, including:
- Whole wheat pasta and noodles
- Baked potatoes
- Brown rice
Consumption of fish has been shown to have many health benefits. You should aim to consume at least two portions of fish per week, including one portion of oily fish.
Shellfish and fish are good sources of vitamins and minerals. Oily fish is also high in omega-3 fatty acids which are good for your heart and brain health.
Fried fish is not as good for you as steamed, baked or grilled fish which are healthier options.
Types of fish
- Red mullet
Pulses are a good source of protein, fibre and nutrients. Pulses are classed as an edible seed which grows in a pod, such as:
- Baked beans
- Broad beans
- Butter beans
- Kidney beans
Pulses are a good source of protein and are particularly beneficial for people who don’t get enough such as:
- Those who don’t eat dairy products
However, those who eat meat also benefit from incorporating pulses into their diet, by adding them to soups, casseroles and sauces. Pulses are also a great source of fibre and a diet high in fibre has numerous benefits for your health.
Water is probably the most overlooked component of the diet. It aids many processes in the body, including:
- Regulation of body temperature
- Waste removal
- Chemical reactions
- Transport of nutrients
Choosing healthy drinks is key to a healthy diet, many soft and fizzy drinks are high in sugar and calories. Water is the healthiest and cheapest option as it contains no sugar and no calories.
If you’re not keen on drinking plain water, try:
- Sparkling water
- Adding slices of fruit
- Heating the water and adding a slice of lemon
- Add some no added sugar squash or fruit juice