Eating a healthy balanced diet can make a real difference to your physical and mental health. It can help you stay at a healthy body weight and make you less likely to get some diseases. As well as eating a balanced diet, you need to balance the amount of calories that you eat and drink with the calories you use.
A balanced diet includes eating enough fruit and vegetables. Have you heard of your five a day? It is a step towards eating healthily by eating five portions of fruit and vegetables every day. If you haven’t tried it already, why not give it a go?
A portion of fruit could be:
- One piece of fruit (for example an apple or a banana).
- Two pieces of fruit if it is smaller.
- (for example plums).
- Half an avocado.
- One heaped tablespoon of dried fruit.
- Three heaped tablespoons of vegetables, beans or pulses like lentils or beans (this includes baked beans).
- 150ml glass of fruit juice.
You can include more fruit and vegetables in your diet by:
- Putting dried fruit on your breakfast cereal.
- Making a fruit smoothie.
- Having more than one type of vegetable with your evening meal.
- Replacing unhealthier snacks like crisps or chocolate with fruit.
- Dried, frozen or tinned fruit and vegetables are just as good for you as fresh ones. If you pick tinned fruit or vegetables, try to pick fruit in juice rather than syrup and vegetables in unsalted water.
To really be eating healthily, you could eat your fruit and vegetables in place of more unhealthy foods like crisps, biscuits and chocolates. What’s more, by taking this approach, you could start to reduce your calorie intake.
For a healthier diet, you could think about choosing:
- Brown bread, rice and pasta rather than white.
- Leaner cuts of meat to cut down on your fat intake.
- Lower fat options like semi skimmed or skimmed milk or low fat yogurts (but check the amount of sugar in low fat options).
- Fewer foods with saturated fats.
- Saturated fat is in foods like pies, biscuits, cakes and butter.
- Food with less saturated fat, sugar and salt – you can check this by looking at food labels.
What could I look for locally?
Local organisations may offer help or classes with cooking healthy meals. You could see if your council or any local charities offer this. You could also ask your GP or care coordinator if they have any information about this.
Healthy eating on a budget
It is possible to buy healthy foods, even if you are on a budget. Things to think about include:
- Looking at the special offers on healthy options in shops and supermarkets. You could stock up on items on special offer that have a longer shelf life such as canned or frozen vegetables.
- Buying fruit and vegetables from a market or greengrocer can be cheaper than the supermarket.
- Oily fish is good for you. Tinned oily fish such as salmon, mackerel or sardines can be cheaper than fresh fish. It’s a good idea to choose fish canned in spring water to cut down on the salt content.
- You can add items such as rice, pasta, lentils and beans to meals to bulk them up. For example, you could put them into soups and casseroles.
Rethink Mental Illness' Good Health Guide includes all this information and also includes an eating well plan.
NHS choices - www.nhs.co.uk
British Nutrition Foundation - www.nutrition.org.uk
You could also ask your GP to print off information about healthy eating for you.
Need practical advice & info? We can help.
Contact our Advice team about mental health & related issues
0300 5000 927 Monday - Friday 9.30am - 4pm, not including bank holidays