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A Healthy Diet

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 

A Food Allergy

A food allergy is caused when the immune system thinks certain foods are harmful to the body. An allergic reaction can occur as soon as the food is eaten or a few hours later. There is no cure. An allergy can only be managed by completely cutting out specific foods out of a person’s diet and by ensuring that the food they do eat has not come into contact with the allergen.

There are 14 common allergens that must be highlighted on food packaging containing them or communicated to the customer when the food is unpackaged:

  • celery
  • cereals containing gluten – including wheat (such as spelt and Khorasan), rye, barley and oats
  • crustaceans – such as prawns, crabs and lobsters
  • eggs
  • fish
  • lupin
  • milk
  • molluscs – such as mussels and oysters
  • mustard
  • tree nuts – including almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios and macadamia nuts
  • peanuts
  • sesame seeds
  • soybeans
  • sulphur dioxide and sulphites

Find out more from the NHS website

A Food Intolerance

A food Intolerance

can be caused by the body’s inability to digest certain foods. It is not usually life threatening but can make a person very ill or adversely affect their long-term health.

People with a food intolerance can usually eat a small amount of the food they are intolerant to without getting ill, although this does vary person to person. The most common symptoms can include diarrhoea, weight loss, bloating and anaemia.

Diagnosing a food intolerance other than coeliac disease and lactose intolerance is difficult. One method is to eliminate the specific food from your diet, you should always speak to your doctor before doing this. You will need to carry on eating gluten before having a test for coeliac disease.

Find out more from the NHS website.