What makes a diet a healthy diet?
Nutrients, like vitamins and minerals, are an important part of our diet. They keep us healthy and protect our bodies from disease. Fruit and vegetables are a good source of these nutrients, so eat plenty of those. Start the day with some fruit at breakfast or have a piece of fruit after you finished your breakfast, an apple, orange or banana. Or add some berries to your yoghurt, like strawberries, cranberries, raspberries or blackberries. You can also cut up an apple or banana and mix these with your muesli or yoghurt dish. Have a good helping of vegetables when you are having your evening meal and maybe have a side salad as well.
Dietary fibres, sometimes also called roughage, can be found in whole meal bread, bran, potatoes, fruit, vegetables, nuts and legumes. Leaving the skin on certain foods will provide you with extra fibres. Like eating 'jacked potatoes' or leaving the skin on an apple when you eat it. A high fibre diet can help prevent diabetes, heart disease and can improve digestive health and avoid obstipation. It has also been found helpful when trying to lose weight because food high in fibre takes longer to digest and so it takes longer to feel hungry again. Build up your fibre intake slowly if you don't usually eat a lot of dietary fibre, it can make you feel somewhat bloated. That will go away once your body gets used to a higher amount of food that contains more dietary fibre.
Make sure that your daily intake of calories does not exceed the amount of calories you use. According to general guidelines the daily calorie intake for men should be 2,500kcal and for women 2,000kcal. These numbers can vary depending on age, size or lifestyle. The more active you are the more calories you will need whereas older, less active people will need less. If you regularly take in more calories than you burn off you will gain weight, so it's best to keep an eye on the nutrition labels when doing the shopping. Processed foods are often rich in calories. Also, watch out for the so-called empty calories; solid fat and added sugars found in cakes, pastries and donuts for example. These empty calories often add lots of calories to food but no nutrients.
Getting plenty of liquid is very important, so try and drink about 1.5 to 2.0 litres a day. Specially if your diet is rich in fibre. Drink lots of water and maybe add a slice of orange, lime or lemon for taste. Drinks of tea, coffee, milk and fruit juice also count towards the total intake of your daily fluids. Tea and coffee contain caffeine, so watch the amount you drink. Specially at night as it may effect your sleeping pattern. Some people are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine than others. It's not advisable to drink sweet fizzy drinks or energy drinks as they are high in sugar. When you buy drinks at the supermarket check the nutrition labels for the amount of added sugar.
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