It is important to eat well and regularly and to drink plenty of fluids to stay healthy. Eating well helps you stay active and get more out of life. A healthy diet can also improve your physical and mental health. If you are struggling to eat healthily, manage your weight, or make meals for yourself at home, there is support available.
The Eatwell Guide shows that to have a healthy, balanced diet, people should try to:
- eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day (see 5 A Day)
- base meals on higher fibre starchy foods like potatoes, bread, rice or pasta
- have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks)
- eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other protein
- choose unsaturated oils and spreads, and eat them in small amounts
- drink plenty of fluids (at least 6 to 8 glasses a day)
If you're having foods and drinks that are high in fat, salt and sugar, have these less often and in small amounts.
Try to choose a variety of different foods from the 5 main food groups to get a wide range of nutrients. Most people in the UK eat and drink too many calories, too much saturated fat, sugar and salt, and not enough fruit, vegetables, oily fish or fibre.
As you age, your digestive and immune systems may become less efficient. It is important to eat well and nutritiously to get the most out of your food. If you have health conditions such as diabetes, arthritis or high blood pressure, your doctor or dietician can help you understand if you need to make changes to what you are eating.
Loss of appetite can be a symptom of some illnesses and mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety. If you experience long-term appetite loss, speak to your doctor about it.
Exercise can help you avoid developing health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and mental health difficulties such as depression. It can also increase your appetite. Small meals or snacks, rather than large meals, could be more helpful if you aren't feeling hungry and your appetite is poor.