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A healthy, balanced diet

Michelle Oatridge, community dietitian at our Trust, explains the value of a healthy, balanced diet.

A lot of us kick off the new year by being healthier, and as you may have found, some ‘diets’ recommend cutting out certain foods, such as meat, fish, wheat or dairy products.

Of course, if you have a dietary intolerance and your doctor has advised you to change your diet accordingly, it is important to take their advice.

However, if you don’t, cutting out certain food groups altogether can prevent you from getting important nutrients and vitamins that your body needs to function properly.

A healthy, balanced diet is important for good health; it can improve wellbeing and reduce the risk of conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and osteoporosis. It should largely consist of five main food groups; fruit and vegetables, carbohydrates, protein, dairy and alternatives, and oils and spreads.

Here are some handy tips to maintain a balanced diet:

  • Foods high in sugars, salt and fat are surplus to our diet, so save them as small treats!
  • Try to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables each day; fresh, frozen, dried and canned all count.
  • Eat a ‘rainbow’ mixture of fruit and veg; a variety of colours means a variety of vitamins and minerals!
  • Include one portion of carbohydrates at each meal; these are your body’s and brain’s main source of energy. Opt for wholegrain, which is higher in fibre and keeps you feeling fuller for longer.
  • Try to choose lean meats and remove excess fat and chicken skin.
  • Eat two portions of fish per week; one should be oily, e.g. mackerel, trout, or sardines. Other good sources of protein are beans, pulses and lentils.
  • Dairy foods are a great source of calcium, and we should consume around three portions a day; for example, a small pot of yoghurt, 1/3 pint of milk, and a small matchbox size piece of cheese.
  • Use low-fat spreads in small amounts, opting for those low in saturated fats such as olive, sunflower, rapeseed and vegetable.


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Michelle Oatridge, community dietitian

Michelle Oatridge, community dietitian