Fruit and veg stallTrying to eat more of the right things does not mean 'going on a diet', especially not one of the quick-fix diets so many celebrities are keen to endorse. True, you may lose weight with one of these, but it could well be only temporary. And you're likely to be less healthy as these diets don't provide all the nutrients you need. There's no such thing as a single super-food which contains every nutrient you'll need, so only by eating a varied diet will you get all you need to stay healthy. There are five main food groups and ideally you should eat a good balance of each of them each day.

PotatoesFruit and vegetables
Fresh fruit and veg, frozen, chilled, canned, 100% juice, and dried fruit & veg all count here. You should try to eat at least five portions of fruit & veg each day. The size of a 'portion' can vary depending on what you're eating, but a good rule is that a portion of fruit or veg will generally weigh about 100 grams. Juice also counts as a portion, but however much you drink in a day it will only count as one portion. This is because juice doesn't contain as much fiber as "solid" fruit.

MeatBread, potatoes and cereals (including noodles, pasta and rice)
Starchy foods like these should make up half your plate. Your body's main source of energy and the high fibre keeps you regular in the bowel department. Surprisingly, an average serving of potatoes also contains a healthy dollop of vitamin C and, unless you've smothered them in butter, absolutely no fat.

Lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, beans and pulses
All of these provide a good source of protein, which helps your body rebuild itself (repairing damaged muscles, hair, nails etc). OK, if you're vegetarian or vegan you're not going to go for the meat & fish... but eating soya also does this and there are smaller amounts in grains and dairy products.

MilkMilk and dairy products
These are a rich source of calcium, which strengthens your bones and teeth and helps your muscles and nerves function properly. The best products health wise will be those classified as having lower fat. A pint of milk a day is enough to ensure you're getting the recommended daily intake of calcium.



Chocolate cakeFoods containing fat and sugar
Fat is a great energy source, but fatty foods don't contain very many nutrients. Just one gram of fat contains about nine calories so unless you take a lot of exercise having eaten a lot of fatty foods, your body will retain the fat and you'll put on weight. But don't avoid eating fat altogether - your body needs energy and in smaller doses fat is an important part of healthy eating. And though it's high in fat, chocolate's fine every now and then. It even triggers happy, smiley endorphins in your brain!


BasketballRunningSwimmingWork Up A Sweat.


WeightsGymThere's no getting away from the fact that taking regular exercise is the way to stay healthy. It reduces your risk of getting ill, can help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight and does loads for your energy and confidence. Plus it can be a great laugh, especially if you're with your mates. If you're not doing any, now's the time to get started.

  • Experts recommend that you get off your backside five days a week for 30 minutes. If you haven't exercised for a while then start off gently and build up. Don't feel you have to do something extreme - it's better to do something than nothing at all.

  • If an exercise routine sounds daunting, small changes can make a difference too. Try getting off the bus a couple of stops early, walk instead of driving and climb the stairs instead of taking the lift. Starting like this can be more do-able for overweight people or smokers.

  • Make sure you're wearing the right trainers. They should fit comfortably, support your arch and ankles and suit the sport you'll be doing. A good sports shop will be able to advise you.
  • Always warm up before you work out - it heats up your muscles and prepares your heart, lungs and mind for what's about to happen, which means you stand less chance of injuries.
  • Once you've warmed up, stretch your muscles out. This increases your flexibility and gives you a wider range of movement. It also feels great.
  • A good cool down after exercise is as essential as a warm up: sudden stopping can lead to aches and strains. Start with large movements and ease down gradually.
  • Throwing different kinds of exercise into the mix means your body gets an overall workout. Experiment with cardiovascular to work your heart and lungs, such as football and running; weight-bearing to strengthen your muscles and bones; and stretch and tone like yoga and swimming to give your muscles flexibility.


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