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8 Essential Tips for a Healthy Diet

8 Essential Tips for a Healthy Diet

By following these 8 practical tips, you can adopt a healthier eating habit and make informed choices.

The foundation of a nutritious diet is to consume an appropriate amount of calories that aligns with your physical activity level, ensuring a balance between energy intake and expenditure.

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If you exceed your body’s caloric needs through food and beverages, it can lead to weight gain as the unused energy is stored as fat. Conversely, consuming insufficient calories can result in weight loss.

In addition, it’s crucial to consume a diverse range of foods to ensure a balanced diet and provide your body with all the necessary nutrients.

It’s recommended that adult men have around 2,500 calories a day (10,500 kilojoules) and adult women should have around 2,000 calories a day (8,400 kilojoules).

Many adults are consuming more calories than necessary and should aim to reduce their caloric intake.

1. Make Starchy Carbohydrates the Foundation of Your Meals

Starchy carbohydrates should make up a significant portion, about one-third, of your daily food intake. These include potatoes, bread, rice, pasta, and cereals.

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Opt for higher fiber or whole grain options such as whole wheat pasta, brown rice, or potatoes with the skin.

These options have more fiber compared to white or refined starchy carbohydrates and can help you feel satisfied for a longer period.

Include at least one starchy food with each main meal. Some individuals may have a perception that starchy foods are fattening, however, they contain fewer calories gram per gram than fat.

Pay attention to the fats added during cooking or serving, as they contribute to the calorie count – for instance, oil on fries, butter on bread, and creamy sauces on pasta.

2. Consume a Significant Amount of Fruits and Vegetables

It’s recommended to consume at least 5 portions of a variety of fruits and vegetables daily. They can come in the form of fresh, frozen, canned, dried, or in juice form.

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Reaching the recommended 5 portions daily is easier than it seems. Consider adding a banana to your breakfast cereal or swap your regular mid-morning snack for a fresh piece of fruit.

A single serving of fresh, canned, or frozen fruits and vegetables is 80g. A serving of dried fruit, which is best consumed during mealtimes, is 30g.

A 150ml glass of fruit juice, vegetable juice, or smoothie also counts as one portion, but limit the intake to no more than one glass a day, as these drinks contain a high amount of sugar and can harm your teeth.

3. Include Fish in Your Diet, Including Oily Fish

Fish is an excellent source of protein and essential vitamins and minerals. It is recommended to consume at least two portions of fish per week, including at least one serving of oily fish.

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Oily fish, such as salmon, trout, herring, sardines, pilchards, and mackerel, are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which may help reduce the risk of heart disease.

Other non-oily fish options include haddock, plaice, coley, cod, tuna, skate, and hake. You can opt for fresh, frozen, or canned fish, but it is important to note that canned and smoked fish can be high in sodium.

While most individuals should aim to increase their fish intake, there are certain types of fish with recommended limits.

4. Reduce your intake of saturated fat and sugar

Saturated fat

While some fat is necessary for a balanced diet, it is important to be mindful of both the quantity and type of fat you consume.

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There are two main types of fat: saturated and unsaturated. Consuming excessive amounts of saturated fat can increase cholesterol levels in the blood, thereby increasing the risk of heart disease.

On average, men should aim to consume no more than 30 grams of saturated fat per day, while women should aim for no more than 20 grams per day.

Children under the age of 11 should have lower saturated fat intake than adults, but a low-fat diet is not recommended for children under 5 years old.

Foods that are high in saturated fat include:

  • Marbled meat
  • Pies
  • Hard cheese
  • Sausages
  • Butter
  • Biscuits
  • Lard
  • Cream
  • Cakes

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To reduce your saturated fat intake, try choosing foods that contain unsaturated fats, such as vegetable oils and spreads, oily fish, and avocados.

As an alternative, use small amounts of vegetable or olive oil, or reduced-fat spread instead of butter, lard, or ghee. When consuming meat, opt for lean cuts and remove any visible fat.

It’s important to remember that all types of fat are high in calories, so it’s best to consume them in moderation.


The excessive consumption of high sugar foods and drinks increases the likelihood of obesity and tooth decay.

Such products are frequently rich in energy and when consumed too frequently can lead to weight gain. They can also increase the risk of tooth decay, especially when consumed between meals.

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Free sugars refer to sugars added to food or drinks, or naturally present in honey, syrups, and unsweetened fruit juices and smoothies. These are the types of sugars that should be reduced, as opposed to those found in fruits and milk.

Many processed foods and beverages contain high amounts of free sugars.

Examples of free sugars include:

  • sweetened breakfast cereals
  • cakes
  • pastries and desserts
  • sweetened soft drinks
  • candies and chocolate
  • cookies
  • alcoholic beverages

Food labels can be useful in checking the sugar content of foods.

A food product that contains more than 22.5g of total sugars per 100g is considered high in sugar, while a food that contains 5g or less of total sugars per 100g is considered low in sugar.

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5. Reduce Salt Intake: Limit to 6g per Day for Adults

Excessive salt consumption can increase your blood pressure, which can increase the risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke.

Salt is present in many foods, even if you do not add any extra while cooking. Approximately 75% of the salt you consume is already in the food when purchased, such as in breakfast cereals, soups, breads, and sauces.

To help reduce salt intake, check food labels. Foods containing more than 1.5g of salt per 100g are considered high in salt.

Adults and children aged 11 and above should aim to consume no more than 6g of salt per day, which is equivalent to approximately one teaspoon. Children should consume even less.

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6. Maintain an Active Lifestyle and Achieve a Healthy Weight

In addition to following a healthy diet, regular physical activity can also help reduce the risk of developing serious health conditions. Regular exercise is essential for overall health and wellbeing.

Excess weight, including obesity, increases the likelihood of developing conditions like type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, heart disease, and stroke. On the other hand, being underweight can also negatively impact one’s health.

For most adults, maintaining a healthy weight involves reducing calorie intake. To achieve and maintain a healthy weight, it is important to balance caloric intake with physical activity levels. Adopting a nutritious, balanced diet can help support your weight management goals.

7. Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated is important to maintain good health and prevent dehydration. The recommended daily fluid intake by the government is 6 to 8 glasses. This amount is separate from the fluid obtained from the food you consume.

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While all non-alcoholic drinks can contribute to fluid intake, it is recommended to choose healthier options such as water, lower-fat milk, and lower sugar drinks including tea and coffee.

Sugary soft drinks and carbonated beverages are high in calories and bad for your teeth, so it is best to avoid them. Even unsweetened fruit juices and smoothies contain high amounts of free sugar.

It is advised to limit the combined intake of fruit juice, vegetable juice, and smoothies to 150ml per day, which is equivalent to a small glass.

It is important to increase fluid intake during hot weather or physical activity to avoid dehydration.

8. Eat a Healthy Breakfast

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Contrary to popular belief, skipping breakfast does not help in weight loss. In fact, eating a nutritious breakfast can be a crucial part of maintaining a balanced diet and good health.

A breakfast that is high in fiber and low in fat, sugar, and salt can provide essential nutrients to start your day. A tasty and healthy option could be a bowl of wholegrain cereal with semi-skimmed milk and fresh fruit on top.

It is worth noting that skipping breakfast can be a valid option for those who practice intermittent fasting, but this is a separate topic.

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