For a healthy, balanced diet, you need to eat the right amount and range of foods. It can boost your health, save you money and improve your lifestyle.
Remember that to have a healthy diet you should eat:
- plenty of fruit and vegetables
- plenty of starchy foods such as rice, bread, pasta, potatoes (try to choose wholegrain varieties when you can)
- some protein-rich foods such as meat, fish, eggs and pulses
- some milk and dairy foods
- just a small amount of foods high in fat, salt and sugar.
It's also important to eat a variety of foods to make sure we get all the nutrients our bodies need.
You don't have to make drastic changes to improve your diet. Small changes can make a big impact.
- watch your portion size
- drink lots of water
- choose wholegrain or wholemeal bread, pasta or rice
- don't automatically add salt, sugar, butter, mayonnaise or other dressings
- choose low fat or reduced fat options in dairy products or dressings
- choose leaner cuts of meat and trim off all visible fat
- bulk out meat stews, casseroles or sauces with vegetables
- eat more fish, especially oily fish
- add salad to sandwiches
- choose fruit-based desserts
- use herbs, spices or onions to flavour food, instead of salt
- use non-stick pans so you don't need to use as much fat when cooking
- replace saturated fats like butter and lard with margarine and olive oil, and use sparingly
- avoid frying and grill, bake, boil or steam food instead
- drain off any excess fat after cooking.
For more information on diet and nutrition visit the NHS Choices website.
Healthier Chinese menu project
Chinese is one of the most popular takeaway foods in the UK. But, although traditional Chinese food is healthy, chefs have adapted their recipes to suit local taste buds as their dishes have become more popular.
And, because our taste buds favour foods which are high in fat, salt and sugar and because we eat bigger portion sizes, Chinese dishes have become less healthy over time. They can also contain monosodium glutamate (MSG), a flavour enhancer which is high in sodium.
We organised nutrition courses for our Chinese chefs in both Mandarin and Cantonese, in association with Belfast Health and Social Care Trust and the Food Standards Agency, with help from the Chinese National Healthy Living Centre, the Chinese Welfare Association and the Chinese Chamber of Commerce. We produced a toolkit (link to pdf below) for the chefs and provided posters and leaflets to help them advertise their healthier options.
A promotional cook book with healthier Chinese recipes is also available. These include dishes which are lower in fat, salt and sugar and contain no monosodium glutamate (MSG).
We also ran a Chinese masterchef competition to promote our project, where local Chinese chefs cooked up some healthier options. The Chinese Masterchef competition aimed to increase food hygiene standards in takeaways and restaurants across Belfast as well as raise awareness of some of the healthier dishes available on Chinese menus.