Healthy Eating Plan

Many people aren't sure what a healthy eating plan is.

This is perhaps not surprising given the huge variety of often conflicting advice on offer.

The good news is that developing a healthy eating plan isn't complicated once you have grasped
the  basics.

A healthy eating plan should include the following:

  • 5 a day fruit and vegetables. Any good diet should include at least five servings of fruit and vegetables each day - one serving is approximately 80g, that's one medium apple or two medium plums. Ideally you should be looking to have five different types each day.

    This is not as hard as it sounds - in addition to fresh fruit and veg, the five a day can include frozen, canned, dried and pure juices. And to make it easier, this group also includes beans, pulses and lentils - even the British favourite, baked beans.

  • Bread, Cereals, Potatoes - five a day of these too. This group includes bread, potatoes, breakfast cereals, pasta, rice, noodles, oats and other cereals. As with fruit and veg, look to eat a variety each day, and watch out for heavily sugared breakfast cereals.

  • Milk and Dairy - two to three servings daily. Included in this group are milk, cheese, yoghurt and fromage frais, but not butter, eggs and cream.

  • Meat, Fish etc. Two to three servings daily, with lower fat options being better choices. Options include eggs, poultry, and meat, including items such as burgers and fishcakes. For non-meat eaters, alternatives such as nuts, tofu, mycoprotein, textured vegetable protein (TVP) and kidney beans will help to meet protein needs.

Foods which are high in fat and/or sugar should be eaten in moderation - this would include:

  • Butter

  • Margarine

  • Oil

  • Mayonnaise

  • Cream

  • Crisps

  • Fried foods

  • Soft drinks

  • Sweets

  • Jam

  • Cakes

  • Chocolate

  • Biscuits

  • Pastries

  • Ice-cream


6 Factors that can Hinder your Diet Plans

There are lots of diet plans on the market, but many of them simply focus on the calories you eat, rather than looking at the other factors that are involved in weight loss. The bottom line? No diet plan can really hope to be successful unless it accounts for all the issues involved in weight gain and weight loss.

Rather than simply trying to follow an off-the-shelf diet plan, consider these factors if you really want to control lose some weight this summer:

Emotional Eating: So much of weight loss is in the mind - understand that you are in control of your food, not the other way around. No bowl of ice cream ever leaped from the fridge and forced you to eat it! You can begin to take control of your eating by understanding when and why you eat - is it when you are bored? When you watch TV? When something upsets you? Understanding the emotions behind the eating will help you to take control of what and when you eat.

Balance: Many people who are dieting think of certain foods as good or bad, and thus try and avoid certain foods. The reality is that food is food - some of it is better for you than others, but what matters overall is that you eat a balanced, varied diet. If there are foods you like that you know are fattening, then limit them - trying to eliminate them just makes you want them even more.

Dieting is temporary - eating well is forever: Diet plans that involve short-term calorie restriction can't go on forever. Similarly those that sell you their own, proprietary foods - these can never be more than a short term fix. It's much better to learn to eat well on a regular basis.

You can't lose weight without exercise: If you think you can lose weight without exercising, you are setting yourself up for failure. Why? Because while it's not impossible to lose weight without exercise, you are making it unnecessarily hard for yourself, imposing a handicap. Exercise not only burns calories while you are doing it, but also revs up the motor, increasing your metabolism (the rate at which you burn calories) twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

Give fat a chance: Many diet plans aim to cut fat, yet for most people, fat is not the issue -indeed, many fats are healthy, such as olive oil, or those fats found in fish and in nuts and seeds. Rather than worrying too much about fats, you would do better to look at how much sugar is in your diet?.

Watch your drinks: Drinks are a dangerous source of extra calories - not just soft drinks and so called "fruit drinks" (sugared water with a hint of fruit), but also fruit juice and sports drink. If you want to lose weight, avoid all of these and drink lots of water to keep your body hydrated.