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Despite what you see in some diet books and TV programmes, healthy eating can be really straightforward.

A diet based on 1) starchy foods such as potatoes, bread, rice and pasta; with plenty of fruit and vegetables; some 2) protein-rich  foods such as meat, fish and lentils; some milk and dairy foods; and not too much fat, salt or sugar, will give you all the 3) nutrients  you need.

When it comes to a healthy diet, balance is the 4) key  to getting it right. This means eating a wide variety of foods in the right proportions, and consuming the right amount of food and drink to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.

Most adults in England are overweight or 5) obese  . That means many of us are eating more than we need, and should eat less. And it’s not just food: some drinks can also be high in calories. Most adults need to eat and drink 6)  fewer   calories in order to lose weight, even if they already eat a balanced diet.

Food groups in our diet:

The eatwell plate shows that to have a healthy, balanced diet, people should try to eat:

  • Plenty of fruit and vegetables.
  • Plenty of starchy foods, such as bread, rice, potatoes and pasta.
  • some meat, fish, eggs, 7) beans  and other non-dairy sources of protein.
  • some milk and 8) dairy  foods.
  • just a small amount of food and drinks that are high in 9) fat  and/or sugar.

Try to choose a variety of different foods from the four main food groups.

Most people in the UK eat and drink too many calories, too much fat, sugar and salt, and not enough fruit, vegetables, oily fish and fibre.

It’s important to have some fat in your diet, but you don’t need to eat any foods from the “foods and drinks high in fat and/or sugar” group as part of a healthy diet.

Fruit and vegetables: are you getting your 5 a day?

Fruit and vegetables are a vital 10) source  of vitamins and minerals. It’s advised that we eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables each day.

There’s evidence that people who eat at least five portions a day have a lower risk of heart disease, 11) stroke   and some cancers.

What’s more, eating five portions is not as hard as it sounds. Just one apple, banana, pear or similar-sized fruit is one portion. A third of pineapple or melon is one portion. Three heaped tablespoons of vegetables is another portion.

Having a sliced banana with your morning cereal is a quick way to get one portion. 12) Swap  your mid-morning biscuit for a tangerine, and add a side salad to your lunch. Have a portion of vegetables with dinner, and snack on dried fruit in the evening to reach your five a day.

Starchy foods in your diet:

Starchy foods should make up around one third of everything we eat. This means we should base our meals on these foods.

Potatoes are an excellent choice and a great source of 13) fibre . Leave the skins on where possible to keep in more of the fibre and vitamins. For example, when having boiled potatoes or a jacket potato, eat the skin too.

Try to choose 14) wholegrain  or wholemeal varieties of starchy foods, such as brown rice, wholewheat pasta and brown, wholemeal or higher fibre white bread. They contain more fibre (often referred to as “roughage”), and usually more vitamins and minerals than white varieties.

Meat, fish, eggs and beans – all good sources of protein:

These foods are all good sources of protein, which is essential for the body to grow and repair itself. They are also good sources of a range of vitamins and minerals.

Meat is a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals, including 15) iron , zinc and B vitamins. It is also one of the main sources of vitamin B12. Try to eat 16) lean  cuts of meat and skinless poultry whenever possible to cut down on fat. Always cook meat thoroughly.

Fish is another important source of protein, and contains many vitamins and minerals. Oily fish is particularly rich in omega-3 17) fatty  acids.

Aim for at least two portions of fish a week, including one portion of oily fish. You can choose from fresh, frozen or canned, but remember that canned and smoked fish can often be high in salt.

Eggs and pulses (including beans, nuts and seeds) are also great sources of protein. Nuts are high in fibre and a good alternative to snacks high in saturated fat, but they do still contain high levels of 18) fat  , so eat them in moderation.

Milk and dairy foods – Avoid full fat varieties:

Milk and dairy foods such as cheese and yoghurt are good sources of protein. They also contain 19) calcium , which helps keep your bones healthy.

To enjoy the health benefits of dairy without eating too much fat, use   20) semi-skimmed , 1% fat or skimmed milk, as well as lower-fat hard cheeses or   21) cottage cheese*, and lower-fat yoghurt.

*=   Cottage cheese – Soft cheese

Eat less fat and sugar

Most people in the UK eat too much fat and sugar.

Fats and sugar are both sources of energy for the body, but when we eat too much of them we consume more energy than we burn, and this can mean that we put on 22) weight  . This can lead to obesity, which increases our risk of type two diabetes, certain cancers, heart disease and stroke.

But did you know that there are different types of fat?

Saturated fat is found in foods such as cheese, sausages, butter, cakes, biscuits and pies. Most people in the UK eat too much saturated fat, which can raise 23) cholesterol , putting us at increased risk of heart disease.

Unsaturated fats, on the other hand, can help lower cholesterol and provide us with the essential fatty acids needed to help us stay healthy. Oily fish, nuts and seeds, avocados, olive and vegetable 24) oils  are sources of unsaturated fat.

Try to cut down on foods that are high in saturated fat and have smaller amounts of foods that are rich in unsaturated fat instead. For a healthy choice, use just a small amount of vegetable oil or reduced fat spread instead of butter, lard or ghee. When having meat, choose lean cuts and cut off any visible fat.

Sugar occurs naturally in foods such as 25) fruit and milk, but we don’t need to cut down on these types of foods. Sugar is also added to lots of foods and drinks such as sugary drinks, cakes, biscuits, chocolate, pastries, ice cream and jam. It’s also contained in some ready-made 26) savoury  foods such as pasta sauces and baked beans.

Most of us need to cut down on foods high in 27) added sugars. Instead of a fizzy drink, for example, try fizzy water.

Exercise 2:

  1. If you want to eat a healthy diet, you need  to research how to do  it.  (FALSE: ‘Healthy eating can be really straightforward.’)
  2. For most people, the key to a healthy diet is to eat less. (TRUE: ‘Many of us are eating more than we need, and should eat less.’)
  3. It’s a good idea to cut out all fat from your diet. (FALSE: ‘It’s important to have some fat in your diet’.)
  4. Do not peel potatoes if you are going to roast or boil them. (TRUE: ‘When having boiled potatoes or a jacket potato, eat the skin too.’)
  5. Nuts have ‘good’  unsaturated fat, but don’t eat too many as they are fattening. (TRUE: ‘Nuts are high in fibre and a good alternative to snacks high in saturated fat, but they do still contain high levels of fat, so eat them in moderation.’)
  6. The more calcium and protein in dairy products, the greater fat content. (FALSE: ‘To enjoy the health benefits of dairy without eating too much fat, use semi-skimmed, 1% fat or skimmed milk, as well as lower-fat hard cheeses or cottage cheese, and lower-fat yoghurt.’)
  7. All sugar is bad for you. (FALSE: ‘Sugar occurs naturally in foods such as and milk, but we don’t need to cut down on these types of foods.’)