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Balancing Your Diet

No single food can give you all of the nutrients you need, so it’s time to mix it up and add variety to get the most from your meals. A balanced diet is achieved over a few days but it is good to try and make sure you have a good variety of different types of foods each day, following the principle of the Eat Well Guide below

How many calories do I need?

How many calories do I need?

The key to a healthy weight is balancing calories in with calories used. Weight gain occurs when we take in (through food, drink and alcohol) more calories than we use (through daily activity and exercise), no matter which foods those calories come from.

Typically, women need around 2000 kcal a day while men need around 2500 kcal, depending on your starting weight, height, age and activity levels.

Use front of pack nutrition labeling to easily find out the calories in your food.

What’s a healthy weight for me?

There are two simple ways to find out if you are a healthy weight; either by measuring your Body Mass Index (BMI) or calculating your waist-to-height ratio.

Body Mass Index
Your Body Mass Index can provide an indication of whether you are a healthy weight for your height. A BMI of 18.5-25 is classed as ideal weight, while anything above or below suggests that you are over or underweight. Use our BMI calculator to find out your BMI.

However, if you are below the average height for your age and gender, or you have a lot of muscle, your BMI may not always be correct. In this case, you’re best to take your waist measurement.

Waist-to-height ratio
An easy way of assessing your health risk is using your waist-t- height ratio. If you don’t have scales or a tape measure, you can use a piece of string. Waist-to-height ratio is now being used worldwide as an indicator for early health risk. The value of 0.5 translates into the simple message "Keep your waist circumference to less than half your height". The string is used to measure your height and then it is folded in half to see whether it fits easily around your waist. If it does not, it may indicate you are either over or underweight. If the string does not go all with way round your middle then you are at risk of health complications. The string acts as a simple, cheap, signposting tool for early health risk. This is from the Ashwell ® String Test .

Top tips for a healthy diet

Check out our top tips below to help you take follow a healthier diet.

  • Eat well – choose more Eat Well sunflowers from our range to easily (and deliciously) balance your diet.

  • Start with breakfast – evidence shows people who eat breakfast every day are more likely to maintain a healthy weight than those who skip it. Kickstart your day with a boost of energy and those all-important nutrients.

  • Chose wholegrain carbohydrates – around one third of your daily diet should be starchy carbohydrates.

  • Eat more fruit and veg – aim for three veg and two fruit to give you your five a day.

  • Eat more oily fish – it’s a rich source of heart-healthy omega 3.

  • Drink plenty of fluids – both liquid drinks and foods count towards your fluid intake. Opt for sugar free drinks, plain or fizzy water, tea, coffee, herb or fruit teas, milk and fortified dairy alternatives. One 150ml glass of fruit juice or smoothie counts too.

  • Manage the amount of saturated fat, sugar and salt in your diet – choose items which have mostly green and amber food labelling to help you.

  • Be active every day – anything that gets your heart beating faster.

Find out more about our food labelling

Need to lose weight?

Beginning a weight-loss journey is never easy. Losing weight is about rebalancing your diet and being more active, rather than going hungry. For weight loss that stays off, aim for a gradual loss of about 0.5-1kg a week. On average, in order to lose weight but still get all the nutrients your body needs to stay healthy, you need about 500-600 calories a day less than normal, which is about 1500 kcal for women and 2000 kcal for men. Use food labels to keep track of the calories you’re eating each day and choose more foods which carry the Eat Well sunflower for healthy choices.

Myth busting
We’re putting some famous diet fallacies to bed:

  • Skipping meals doesn’t help you to lose weight. Regular meals help to maintain your energy through the day and are less likely to result in snacking on foods that are high in fat or sugar later in the day.

  • Choosing smaller portions can help to reduce your calories (and fat, sugar and salt intake).

  • Allowing yourself a treat once in a while can actually help you stick to your goals. So rather than cutting out all sweet treats, enjoy a small portion on occasion.

Get active
Being more active each day is a key part of achieving energy balance and a healthy weight. Exercise can also help to improve your body shape, build stronger bones and muscles and improve your overall health. It also reduces your risk of developing health conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. Being active also helps improve sleep and mood and relieve stress – making you feel more energised.

How much activity?
Being active every day is the key! This doesn’t mean having to join a gym; being physically active includes all forms of activity such as walking, climbing stairs, house work, gardening and even dancing. Every 10-minute slot of activity which raises your heart rate counts. Adults should aim for 150 minutes of moderate activity a week (eg brisk walking, cleaning the car, gentle cycling) or 75 minutes of vigorous activity a week (eg running, aerobics class, swimming). Children need about 60 minutes of vigorous physical activity a day. Including activities that help to strengthen muscles and bones (eg skipping, tennis, climbing on playground equipment)

Need to lose weight?

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