Having a balanced diet made up of a variety of foods allows you to get all the nutrients your body needs to function, grow, and repair itself. This is important to maintain good health and to feel your best.
Healthy Eating Guide
The guide is designed to give people the basic knowledge and tools they need to promote healthier diets with a range of people, in a range of local settings. This guide is aimed at people who may have the opportunity to promote healthier eating with the people they live and work with. The guidance does not make recommendations for individuals or groups with clinical conditions who may require specialised dietary interventions.
The guide is available to view in PDF and flipbook versions below:
- DMBC Healthy Eating Guide
- Download (4.34MB)
**Please note, if you have problems opening the the flipbook link please copy and paste the web address on to Google Chrome**
What is a healthy diet?
- Balanced and varied - A healthy diet includes all major food groups, and incorporates variety and vibrancy into your meals. Your daily diet should be based on starchy foods, such as bread, rice and potatoes, and a good amount of fruit and vegetables, as well as including some protein products, dairy or dairy alternatives, and unsaturated fats.
- Honouring your body - It is important to be mindful of your internal hunger and satiety cues for that you do not regularly under - or over-eat and cause yourself discomfort. This can be challenging so it is important.
- Avoid diets and arbitrary "food rules" - Diets are not good for you, and they are not effective. Diets contribute to having a negative relationship with food, they limit your intake of the important nutrients your body needs, and they can make it more difficult for you to recognise and honour your own hunger and satiety.
- Stay hydrated - You should drink 6-8 glasses of fluid a day. Water is the best for hydration, but milk, fruit juices, tea, and coffee can all contribute.
What should be included in a balanced diet?
In order to get the wide range of nutrients our bodies need, you should try to choose a variety of different foods from the 5 main food groups.
The NHS Eatwell Guide shows that to have a balanced diet, you should try to:
- Eat a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. Just over a third of the food you eat everyday should be fruit and vegetables.
- Base your meals on high-fibre starchy foods, like potatoes, bread, rice or pasta. Just over a third of the food you eat everyday should be wholegrain or wholemeal varieties of these starchy foods.
- Consume some dairy products or dairy alternatives.
- Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat or other protein product.
- Choose unsaturated oils and spreads, in small amounts.
- Drink plenty of fluids (at least 6 to 8 glasses a day).
What are the benefits of a balanced diet?
- Most importantly, food provides you with energy to complete the activities you choose to participate in. whether it is a high-intensity workout, a walk in the park, or sitting at your desk all activities require energy, and all food groups provide energy.
- However, some food groups provide additional benefits:
- Fruits, vegetables, and wholegrain or wholemeal varieties of starchy foods are a good source of a range of vitamins, minerals, and fibre that contribute to a strengthened immune system, helps your body to repair itself, and reduces the risk of developing numerous diseases.
- These nutrient-dense foods can help to improve your cardiovascular health – including maintaining a healthy blood pressure and cholesterol level.
- Calcium-rich foods, such as dairy products or dairy alternatives, can improve your dental health and the strength and health of your bones.
- Protein products help your body to grow and repair itself, as well as providing the main sources of iron, zinc, and B vitamins.
- Fats are high in energy and are also essential to your diet
- Food also has a big impact on your mood and wellbeing – how you feel and what you can do day-to-day.
- Incorporating variety into your diet, experimenting with new tastes, and the process of cooking itself can all have a positive impact on your mental wellbeing.
- As well as your mood, food can impact your behaviour, performance, and outcomes – for example, a balanced diet is found to improve academic outcomes for school children.
- The act of eating food can be an enjoyable activity that you share with others. This socialising can also enrich your wellbeing.
- Eating food also can often be a way to celebrate an occasion and cooking for someone else can be a demonstration of your affection.
What impact does an unbalanced diet have?
There is no food that is inherently “bad” – but anything in excess can have a negative impact.
Eating too much of one food group can mean you do not get the nutrients you need, which can negatively impact your health and wellbeing. For example:
- Too much sugar can affect your dental health.
- Too much saturated fat can increase the amount of cholesterol in your blood.
- Too much salt can raise your blood pressure.
Pre-existing Conditions, Mental Health and Disordered Eating
It is important to note that there are some health conditions that may influence your eating habits and conflict with some of the advice above. Always seek and follow the dietary advice of your personal health professional.
Your mental health and wellbeing can also affect your eating habits – for example, comfort eating when you feel blue, or losing your appetite when you feel anxious. If you think that your mood is adversely affecting your eating habits, please seek support from a professional to create healthier coping-mechanisms.
Disordered eating habits can also significantly impact your diet and wellbeing. If you think you may be experiencing an eating disorder, please seek support from a professional.
Further information and support
There may be local help and support available in your community, including local walking groups, leisure centres and community groups.
If you would like to develop healthier eating habits and be more active, you may find the following links useful:
- Beat - The UK's Eating Disorder Charity.
- Better Health - NHS - Easy ways to eat well and move more.
- Better Health - Get Going
- Better Health - Recipes
- Eatwell Guide - Information on how to achieve a healthy, balanced diet.
- Food - A Fact of Life – Free resources for teaching young people about where food comes from, cooking, and healthy eating.
- Food Psych Podcast - Christy Harrison - Intuitive Eating Dietitian, Anti-Diet Author, & Health at Every Size Advocate.
- FoodSwitch- Using the camera on your smart phone, FoodSwitch allows you to scan the barcodes of packaged foods at the supermarket, your desk or at home. It then presents you with immediate, easy-to-understand information about that product's nutritional make-up.
- Get Doncaster Moving – A partnership of organisations who are committed to help Doncaster’s communities become healthier and more vibrant.
- NHS Choices website – Tips to eat well for less.
- Nutritionist Resources - Information on nutrition and accessing a professional Nutritionist.
- RD Real Talk Podcast - Anti-Diet Nutrition - Heather Caplan.
- NHS app - This is the official NHS App.
- Your Life Doncaster - This website provides resources for you to look after yourself within your own community; focusing on you keeping well, safe and connected.
For NHS approved apps please visit our Health Apps page.