Healthy Eating

The balance of good health suggests that healthy eating should be based on the following dietary advice:

Eat a balanced diet basing consumption of food groups on the following the “Eat well plate” Eat a variety of foods from the 5 food groups with most of your daily food intake coming from fruit and vegetable & starchy foods.

  • Eat breakfast
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Cut down on saturated fats
  • Try to only eat 6g of salt per day

Getting the balance right & why it is important

No single food contains all the essential nutrients the body needs to be healthy and function efficiently. The nutritional value of a person's diet depends on the overall mixture, or balance, of foods that is eaten over a period of time, as well as on the needs of the individual. That is why a balanced diet is one that is likely to include a large number or variety of foods, so adequate intakes of all the nutrients are achieved.

We need energy to live, but the balance between carbohydrate, fat and protein must be right for us to remain healthy. Too little protein can interfere with growth and other body functions, too much fat can lead to obesity and heart disease. Adequate intakes of vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre are important for health, and there is growing evidence that a number of bioactive plant substances (also termed phytochemicals) found in fruit and vegetables are also important in promoting good health.

The eatwell plate aims to give people a practical message about how to eat healthily. It is hoped that this will reduce the confusion about what healthy eating really means.

Below is more detailed information about food & nutrition

Starchy foods are a good source of energy and the main source of a range of nutrients. They also contain fibre, calcium, iron and B vitamins. If possible try to choose wholegrain varieties of starchy foods whenever you can. Wholegrain foods contain more fibre and other nutrients than white or refined starchy foods. We also digest wholegrain foods more slowly so they can help make us feel full for longer. Your diet should contain about 1/3 of this food group.

Some people think starchy foods are fattening, but gram for gram they contain less than half the calories of fat. You just need to watch the fats you add when cooking and serving these foods, because this is what increases the calorie content.

Fruit and vegetables

The recommendations are that we have at least 5 a day portions of fruit and vegetables. They help prevent some cancers and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Full details on this important food group is listed in the 5 a day section.

Eat more fish

Fish is an excellent source of protein and contains many vitamins and minerals. The recommendation is to eat at least two portions of fish a week, including a portion of oily fish. You can choose from fresh, frozen or canned - canned and smoked fish can be high in salt. Some fish are called oily fish because they are rich in certain types of fats, called omega 3 fatty acids, which can help keep our hearts healthy. These include the following: Salmon, mackerel, trout, herring, fresh tuna, sardines, pilchards, eel Although most of us should be eating more oily fish, women of childbearing age should have a maximum of 2 portions of oily fish a week (a portion is about 140g). And 4 is the recommended maximum number of portions for other adults.

Cut down on saturated fat and sugar

To stay healthy we need some fat in our diets. The type of fat we eat is important. There are two main types of fat saturated & unsaturated.

  • Saturated fat - can increase the amount of cholesterol in the blood, which increases the chance of developing heart disease
  • Unsaturated fat - having unsaturated fat instead of saturated fat lowers blood cholesterol Try to have foods that are high in unsaturated fats these include: vegetable oils (including sunflower, rapeseed and olive oil), oily fish, avocados, nuts and seeds.

The following foods are high in saturated fats: meat pies, sausages, meat with visible white fat hard cheese, butter and lard, pastry, cakes and biscuits, cream, soured cream and crème fraîche, coconut oil, coconut cream or palm oil. Try to eat less of these or in smaller amounts. If foods contain more than 20g of fat per 100g these are high in fat, foods containing 3g fat or less per 100g is considered low fat.


Sugar is contained in many foods that we eat, this can be found either as added sugars of naturally occurring such as sucrose, glucose, fructose, maltose, hydrolysed starch and invert sugar, corn syrup and honey. Experts say that most people in the UK are eating too much sugar and that we should cut down. Many foods that contain added sugar can also be high in calories so cutting down could help you control your weight.

How do I know if a food is high in added sugar?

Take a look at the label. The ingredients list always starts with the biggest ingredient first. But watch out for other words used to describe added sugars, see list above. If you see one of these near the top of the list, you know the food is likely to be high in added sugars.

Another way to get an idea of how much sugar is in a food is to have a look for the 'Carbohydrates (of which sugars)' figure on the label. But this figure can't tell you how much is from added sugars, which is the type we should try to cut down on.

  • High is more than 15g sugars per 100g
  • Low is 5g sugars or less per 100g


According to statistics 85% men and 69% women in the UK eat too much salt. Adults - and children over 11 - should have no more than 6g salt a day. Younger children should have even less. Most of the salt we eat is already in the food we buy, such as breakfast cereals, soups, sauces and ready meals. So you could easily be eating too much salt without realising it.

Eating too much salt can raise your blood pressure. high blood pressure can lead to the development of heart disease or an increased risk of having a stroke.

How do I know if a food is high in salt?

Check the label to find out the figure for salt per 100g.

  • High is more than 1.5g salt per 100g (or 0.6g sodium)
  • Low is 0.3g salt or less per 100g (or 0.1g sodium)

Get active and try to be a healthy weight

Being the correct weight for your height is important being overweight can lead to health conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes. Being underweight could also affect your health.

Check if you are the right weight for your height using the link below. The link uses a measurement called Body Mass Index (BMI) which gives an indication on correct weight for your size... BMI index

If you're worried about your weight, you can seek advice from your GP who may refer you to a dietitian for expert advice. If you follow the advice on healthy eating & physical activity this will help you manage your weight.

The British Heart Foundation website has excellent advice on healthy living. Use the information on behavioural change this will help to motivate you. Set yourself small achievable goals and remember to reward yourself when you do achieve them.

Only eat what your body needs, look at your lifestyle before changing it, find support from friends and family, this will make change easier. Whenever we eat more than our body needs, we put on weight. This is because we store any energy we don't use up - usually as fat. Even small amounts of extra energy each day can lead to weight gain.

Crash diets aren't good for your health and they don't work in the longer term. The way to reach a healthy weight - and stay there - is to change your lifestyle gradually. Aim to lose about 0.5 to 1kg (about 1 to 2lbs) a week, until you reach a healthy weight for your height.

Drink plenty of water

Adequate hydration is really important to our body, we should be drinking about 6 to 8 glasses (1 to 2 litres) of water, or other fluids, daily to stop us from getting dehydrated. Studies have shown that concentration can be affected if we are not well hydrated. Most people would not drive for more than a couple of hours without stopping and having a break and a drink, yet many of us work through our breaks and only have a few drinks during the day.

Drinking fluids refreshes us and increase levels of concentration, so stop every hour and have a drink. When the weather is warm or when we get active, our bodies need more than this. But avoid drinking soft and fizzy drinks that are high in added sugar.


There is nothing wrong with the occasional drink of alcohol. But drinking too much can cause problems. Alcohol is also high in calories, so cutting down could help you control your weight.

Current medical evidence shows that men should not regularly drink more than three to four units a day and women not more than two to three. "Regularly" means drinking every day or most days of the week. Consistently drinking more than these amounts can risk damaging your health, with the danger increasing the longer you continue and the more you drink. The limits are lower for women because women's bodies have a higher ratio of fat to water than men, making them less able to dilute alcohol in the body and they do not process alcohol as effectively The alcohol content of a drink is measured in units. For instance, a pint of typical-strength bitter contains just over two units, while a glass of wine can contain anything from around 1.5 to over three, depending on the size and strength.

You can calculate the units in a drink by multiplying the amount in millilitres (ml) by the strength (ABV) and dividing the result by 1000. There's a unit for every percentage point of ABV in a litre: e.g. a litre of a typical whisky (37.5 ABV) will contain 37.5 units. For more information about alcohol visit : NHS units

For good health, it's a good idea to spread your drinking throughout the week and avoid binge drinking. Drinking heavily over a long period of time can damage the liver. Alcohol is prohibited in the workplace Portsmouth Hospitals does have support if you require help with an alcohol problem contact the Occupational Health Department for more information.

Don't skip breakfast

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day it can help provide us with the energy we need to face the day, as well as some of the vitamins and minerals we need for good health.

Eating breakfast starts metabolism in the body so missing it will not help you lose weight. There is some evidence to suggest that eating breakfast can actually help people control their weight. But missing meals doesn't help us lose weight and it isn't good for us, because we can miss out on essential nutrients.