You are what you eat. There is much truth in this proverb. Increasingly in today’s society poor diet is leading to elevated levels of obesity and poor health, with consequential increases in depression and stress, reduced performance at work, and elevated health care costs. None of this is advantageous to a sustainable society.
Obesity is a growing problem in the UK and at present 45% of men and 34% of women are overweight. A further 16% of men and 18% of women are obese. Weight is gained when more energy is taken in than is used up. Weight reduction methods tend to focus on achieving a well balanced, reduced energy diet together with increasing general activity. Activity is also important for the maintenance of healthy bones.
On average the diet of UK adults provides more than enough of most nutrients. However the percentage of energy derived from total fat and saturated fatty acids is higher than recommended. A healthy well balanced diet is one which contains plenty of starchy foods and fruit and vegetables, moderate amounts of meat or its alternatives, milk and milk products and only small amounts of foods and drinks containing fat and sugar.
Eating a balanced diet containing plenty of fruit and vegetables, not smoking, keeping physically active, drinking alcohol in moderation only and keeping body weight within the healthy range for height are all factors which are though to play a part in reducing the risk of certain diseases such as coronary heart disease and some cancers.
Eating is an important part of everyone’s lives. Food should be enjoyable as well as nutritious. All foods provide some nutrients and contribute to the taste, smell, colour, texture and enjoyment of the whole meal. Sharing a meal with friends or family is an important part of enjoying your food. Choosing foods for a healthy balanced diet doesn’t have to mean giving up all your favourites. It’s the overall balance that counts. No food need be excluded from the diet except occasionally for special medical reasons. In striking a healthy balance, the following points are worth considering.
- Eat a variety of different foods.
- Eat the right amount to be a healthy weight.
- Eat plenty of foods rich in starch and fibre.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Don’t eat too many foods that contain a lot of fat.
- Don’t have sugary food and drinks too often.
- Don’t eat too much salt.