The healthy eating is not a science and the key to healthy eating is a balanced diet. Many experts now quote the 80:20 rule. In other words, as long as you eat reasonably well 80% of the time, you can indulge in chips or chocolate 20% of the time. So we’re not saying ‘never eat chocolate1, but why not try some lovely sweet summer fruits instead, the next time you get that sweet-tooth craving? Here are some simple healthy eating tips:
- Enjoy your food, eat slowly so you really taste it
- Eat a variety of foods – a restricted diet isn’t a healthy one
- Eat and exercise in sensible amounts – don’t go to extremes
- Eat foods rich in starch and fibre
- Cut back on high fat foods
- Make sugary foods and drinks an occasional treat only
- Try to limit your intake of alcohol, caffeine or salt.
Top Healthy Eating Tip: Remember that you don’t have to balance every meal. It’s far more important to look at your daily and even weekly eating patterns.
A balanced diet and a reasonable amount of exercise is the key to feeling fit and healthy in the long term. Even if you’re not concerned with your weight, exercise will help your digestion, give your skin a glow and keep you physically supple and strong. It doesn’t mean going near a gym if that fills you with horror. Walking, swimming and cycling are all excellent forms of exercise. Go on, miss the bus!
The basis of healthy eating – the four food groups
The food we eat can be split into four different food groups. These food groups provide different nutrients and by choosing the correct combination of the four food groups we can maximize our healthy eating. We also need to eat different foods within each food group as they supply different benefits. The chart below shows the approximate ratio of food groups and how they should make up our diet.
Meat & other proteins
This includes beef, lamb, pork, poultry and fish. Also, meat products such as sausages, pate and burgers, as well as non-meat alternatives beans, peas and lentils and tofu (bean-curd). It is advisable to eat moderate amounts of these and if there are lower-fat versions choose them as often as possible.
Grains & cereals
Bread in all its forms, and pasta, rice, pulses and breakfast cereals make up this food group. Wholegrain versions are your best choice as these give you added fiber. Feel free to eat as much from this food group as you want (just don’t overdo the butter on bread or creamy sauces on pasta!)
Milk, cheese, from age frais and yogurt should be eaten in moderation – or look for low-fat options which contain as much healthy calcium as the high fat varieties.
Fruit & vegetables
We should all be eating at least five portions of fresh fruit and veg a day – especially the dark green and orange types. Canned, frozen and dried varieties are also healthy choices, and may be more convenient at times.
Healthy Eating Food Guidelines
The foods that don’t fit within these four main food groupings tend to have a higher fat content and more calories, so be careful not to over-indulge with these. The food groups chart below show these include lots of your favorites, but for the sake of your health try to keep them as an occasional treat.
|Four Food Groups Chart|
|Fats & oils||butter, cooking oils, cream, lard, margarine|
|Mainly sugar||biscuits, cakes, ice-cream, jam, sweets, syrup|
|Snacks||crisps, salted peanuts|
|Drinks||alcohol, coffee, soft drinks, tea|
|Condiments||mayonnaise, mustard, salad dressing|
As well as watching your intake of fat and sugar, keep an eye on your alcohol, salt and caffeine intake. All these can all be good for you in moderation – alcohol especially too much can lead to serious health problems.
Generally we all eat too much fat these days (many pre-packaged foods, especially meat products and high fat dairy products are to blame) so choose lower-fat and leaner options more often. If you don’t want to use a leaner option (let’s face it, the taste isn’t always the same) then simply reduce your portion, and supplement your meal with more fresh vegetables or fruit.
On this page we have tried to provide the essential information on healthy eating and what is healthy eating. Further, we explained the major 4 food groups including a chart of these food groups. We believe that the above mentioned healthy eating guidelines will provide you a good start towards health diet. If you are looking for more healthy eating guidelines and tips please visit the other pages of this website.