A healthy balanced diet is one that gives you the right amount of all nutrients that your body needs to function well and protects against diseases.
The body needs carbohydrates, protein, fats, fibre, vitamins, minerals and water. The easiest way to get the right amount of nutrients is to eat a wide range of foods close to its natural state such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, pulses, and whole grains.
It’s important to eat enough food for your body to grow and get the nutrients it needs, and not to eat too much to prevent becoming overweight which causes health problems too.
Eating foods that are high in fat, salt, and sugar are bad for our health.
The British Heart Foundation website contains excellent short videos and simple information to explain the problems with different foods.
In rich countries, we are eating too much food which is causing people to become overweight and have health problems.
More than 50% of the UK shopping basket is made up of ultra-processed foods. This is more than any other country in Europe. France, Greece, Portugal, and Italy’s consumption is less than 15%
Ultra-processed foods are ready made meals and snacks which usually contain ingredients that you wouldn’t add when cooking homemade food. Many will contain chemicals, colourings, sweeteners, and preservatives. Read how Dr Chris Van Tulleken ate only ultra-processed food for one month and how it affected him. You can also listen to a series of programmes on BBC Sounds where Chris tries to convince his brother Xand to stop eating ultra-processed food.
Find out more about ultra-processed foods and our health from this report from The Soil Association.
Is it our fault that we are eating so many of these foods? Wherever we go we are bombarded by advertising for these products – on every bus stop, in every magazine, in school canteens! Ultra-processed foods are marketed as the normal choice of food to eat.
According to the Food Foundation.
“Just 2.5% of food and advertising spend goes towards promoting fruit and veg”
“1 in 4 places to buy food are fast food outlets. The proportion is higher in the most deprived local authorities.”
There are many organisations working hard to improve our food systems so we can all access healthy food easily. Find out more about these organisations on our page – Working for a better food system