Practical tips on healthy eating

Biscuits These seven practical tips cover the basics of healthy eating and can help you make healthier choices.

1) Base your meals on starchy carbohydrates

Choose wholegrain varieties as they contain more fibre, and can help you feel full for longer. Keep an eye on the fats you add when you're cooking or serving these types of foods because that's what increases the calorie content, for example oil on chips, butter on bread and creamy sauces on pasta.

2) Eat lots of fruit and veg

It's recommended we eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and veg every day. Why not chop a banana over your breakfast cereal, or swap your usual mid-morning snack for a piece of fresh fruit?

3) Eat more fish – including a portion of oily fish

Fish is a good source of protein and contains many vitamins and minerals. Aim to eat at least two portions of fish a week, including at least one portion of oily fish. If you regularly eat a lot of fish, try to choose as wide a variety as possible.You can choose from fresh, frozen and canned: but remember that canned and smoked fish can be high in salt.

4) Cut down on saturated fat and sugar

We all need some fat in our diet, but it's important to pay attention to the amount and type of fat we're eating. There are two main types of fat: saturated and unsaturated. Too much saturated fat can increase the amount of cholesterol in the blood, which increases your risk of developing heart disease. Try to cut down on your saturated fat intake, and choose foods that contain unsaturated fats instead, such as vegetable oils, oily fish and avocados.

Sugar in our diet

Sugary foods and drinks, including alcoholic drinks, are often high in energy (measured in kilojoules or calories), and if eaten too often, can contribute to weight gain. They can also cause tooth decay, especially if eaten between meals.

Many packaged foods and drinks contain surprisingly high amounts of free sugars. Free sugars are any sugars added to foods or drinks, or found naturally in honey, syrups and unsweetened fruit juices. Food labels can help: use them to check how much sugar foods contain. More than 22.5g of total sugars per 100g means the food is high in sugar, while 5g of total sugars or less per 100g means the food is low in sugar.

5) Eat less salt – no more than 6g a day for adults

Eating too much salt can raise your blood pressure. About three-quarters of the salt we eat is already in the food we buy, such as breakfast cereals, soups, breads and sauces. Use food labels to help you cut down. More than 1.5g of salt per 100g means the food is high in salt. Adults and children over 11 should eat no more than 6g of salt (about a teaspoonful) a day. Younger children should have even less.

6) Don't get thirsty

We need to drink plenty of fluids to stop us getting dehydrated – the recommendation is 6-8 glasses every day.
This is in addition to the fluid we get from the food we eat. All non-alcoholic drinks count, but water and lower-fat milk are healthier choices. When the weather is warm, or when we get active, we may need more fluids.

7) Don't skip breakfast

Some people skip breakfast because they think it will help them lose weight. In fact, research shows that people who regularly eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight. Breakfast has also been shown to have positive effects on children’s mental performance and increase their concentration throughout the morning.