Health benefits of eating well
A well-balanced diet provides all of the:
energy you need to keep active throughout the day
nutrients you need for growth and repair, helping you to stay strong and healthy and help to prevent diet-related illness, such as some cancers
Keeping active and eating a healthy balanced diet can also help you to maintain a healthy weight.
Deficiencies in some key nutrients - such as vitamin A, B, C and E, and zinc, iron and selenium - can weaken parts of your immune system.
More about vitamins, minerals and nutrients
Type 2 diabetes
Maintaining a healthy weight and eating a balanced diet that's low in saturated fat and high in fibre found in whole grains can help to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
More about type 2 diabetes
A healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy can help to reduce your risk of heart disease by maintaining blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
High blood pressure and cholesterol can be a symptom of too much salt and saturated fats in your diet.
Eating a portion of oily fish - such as salmon and trout - each week can also help to lower your risk of developing heart disease. The high levels of omega-3 fatty acids in oily fish are good for heart health.
Strong bones and teeth
A diet rich in calcium keeps your teeth and bones strong and can help to slow bone loss (osteoporosis) associated with getting older.
Calcium is usually associated with dairy products, but you can also get calcium by eating:
sardines, pilchards or tinned salmon (with bones)
dark green vegetables - such as kale and broccoli
calcium-fortified foods - such as soya products, fruit juices and cereals
As vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, make sure you get outside (your body gets vitamin D from the sun) and have plenty of foods containing vitamin D in your diet - such as oily fish and fortified cereals.
More about vitamin D
How to manage your weight
Eating a healthy diet that includes lots of fruit, vegetables, whole grains and a moderate amount of unsaturated fats, meat and dairy can help you maintain a steady weight. Having a good variety of these foods every day leaves less room for foods that are high in fat and sugar - a leading cause of weight gain.
Together with exercise, eating a healthy diet in the right proportions can also help you lose weight, lower your cholesterol levels and blood pressure and decrease your risk of type 2 diabetes.
One pound of fat contains 3,500 calories so cutting your calorie intake by 500 calories per day on average, should see you lose 1 pound per week. While it might not seem like much, if you ate an extra 100 calories per day, by the end of the year you could gain 11lbs. Small changes make a huge difference in the long term.
set small and realistic goals to help you lose weight safely and make you more likely to maintain your weight loss
eat 3 regular, balanced meals a day
try to have meals at planned times
only include snacks if you're physically hungry
Losing weight is about eating a healthy and balanced diet, but a big part of being successful in your weight loss attempts is learning how to control your portion sizes.
Portion sizes vary depending on a number of factors - such as age, gender and activity levels - but as a rough guide, the following table outlines the portion sizes of some common healthy foods.