Good nutrition and balanced diet
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A healthy, balanced diet combined with plenty of fluids and an active lifestyle can dramatically improve health and well-being. A healthy, balanced diet is an important step towards good health. It reduces the risk of getting a large number of diseases.
Being over, or under, weight can have serious consequences and put strain on your body's other systems. And even if your weight is not a problem having a badly-balanced diet will put your overall health at risk. Good nutrition also improves mood and general well-being.
As we get older sometimes it can feel more difficult to eat well.
Does this sound like you, or someone you know?
- Do you find it difficult to get to the shops to buy food?
- Do you have little or no food in the fridge or cupboards?
- Do you struggle to prepare meals and snacks?
- Do you find food more expensive these days?
- Have you lost interest in cooking?
- Do you eat alone most of the time?
- Do you forget to eat or often not feel like eating?
- Do you forget to drink or not feel like drinking?
- Have you lost weight recently or found your clothes and jewellery fit more loosely?
- Do you find it painful to chew or swallow?
- Do you find food tastes or smells differently these days?
These factors may be signs that you or someone you know is at risk of not getting a healthy and nutritious diet. But there are plenty of resources to help you do so. We've listed some below.
A healthy diet consists of a variety of foods from all the food groups, including:
- Foods rich in starch and fibre - these foods help to keep your bowels regular.
Bread, rice, pasta, cereals, potatoes, oats, beans, peas, lentils, fruit and vegetables.
- Iron-rich foods - these foods will help keep your blood strong.
Red meat, pulses (such as peas, beans and lentils), oily fish (such as sardines), eggs, bread, green vegetables and breakfast cereals with added vitamins.
- Foods and drinks rich in vitamin C
Fruit, especially citrus fruit, green vegetables, peppers, tomatoes and potatoes.
- Calcium-rich foods - help keep bones strong.
Dairy products such as milk, cheese and yoghurt. Other sources include green leafy vegetables (such as broccoli and cabbage, but not spinach), soya beans and tofu.
If you are having problems getting out to the shops to buy food, or to prepare food for yourself at home, then our page on Meals and meals services offers lots of ideas on how you can overcome these problems.
If you are concerned about your diet or appetite then talk to your GP, who may refer you on to a dietician for specialist advice on what to eat. This is particularly important if you have experienced significant weight loss, or weight gain, or if you suffer from illness such as anaemia which are often caused by a poor diet.
Support for all
Food poverty, social isolation and unemployment are sadly affecting a lot of people across the UK at the moment. Some people end up being unable to afford to buy food for themselves and their loved ones. There are some organisations out there who can help if you find yourself in this situation.
The Trussell Trust foodbanks provide a minimum of three days emergency food and support to people experiencing crisis in the UK. In some areas they will only provide food following a referral from a health or social care professional - check your local food bank for details.
Foodbanks in the local area include:
(referral service information and leaflet for professionals)
- Chalk Farm
Dads House operates a food bank near West Brompton for dads and anyone else who needs a helping hand in Kensington and Chelsea.
FoodCycle is a UK charity that combines volunteers, surplus food and spare kitchen spaces to create tasty, nutritious meals for people at risk of food poverty and social isolation.
The Food Chain exists to ensure people living with HIV in London can access the nutrition they need to get well, stay well and lead healthy, independent lives.
They deliver meals and groceries, offer cookery and nutrition classes and communal eating opportunities to people living with HIV in London and their dependents.
Support in Westminster
The North Paddington Foodbank uses cash and food donations from businesses and ordinary people to provide a minimum of three days emergency food and support to people experiencing crisis in North Paddington.
Support in Kensington and Chelsea
The following venues may be able to offer emergency meals:-
- St Cuthbert's Centre
- The Salvation Army
- Missionaries of Charity Soup Kitchen (Ladbroke Grove)
- The 240 Project
- Chelsea Methodist Church and Pastoral Centre
See also the leaflet Food for vitality. Are you getting enough nutrition? and the accompanying Contact details leaflet for local support services in Kensington and Chelsea.
Information leaflets from the NHS
The NHS have produced a series of factsheets and leaflets with advice on how to eat healthily:
- Eating on a budget. Making healthy-eating on a budget possible
- Food first advice. Helping you eat well to maintain weight and health
- Food fortification Find easy ways to increase calories of your meal and promote weight gain
- Nausea. Suggestions to help you continue eating at times when you are not feeling well
- Nourishing drinks. Drinks with added energy and protein that help keep you hydrated
- Puree diet. Meal and snack ideas for people requiring pureed foods
- Soft diet. Meal and snack ideas for people requiring softer foods
- Snack suggestions. Snack suggestions for all diet types
- Chewing and swallowing.Tips for making eating and drinking easier
And some more information
Public Health England's Change4Life website provides lots of information on how to eat well.
The Easy Health website has gathered together various videos and easy-read leaflets which will help people with learning disabilities to understand more about food, diet and health eating.
They also provide various leaflets with recipe suggestions.
Age UK offer information on health eating.