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Eating well is one of the most important things you can do to stay in good health and maintain a healthy body weight.

A healthy diet is one which provides your body with all the nutrients it needs while balancing your calorie intake with the amount you use.

Health Challenge Wales suggests these tips for making your diet healthier:

  • plan your meals, including when you’ll treat yourself. This will help you avoid sugary snacks and last-minute takeaways
  • try to make sure your diet comprises one third fruit and vegetables, one third pasta, bread, potatoes or rice and one third meat, fish, nuts dairy and fats
  • eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day – it’s not so difficult when you include baked beans and tinned/frozen vegetables
  • eat less visible fat, e.g. cut the fat off your steak
  • cut down on sugar – including sugary drinks
  • throw away the deep fat fryer and grill, oven cook or microwave
  • reduce your salt intake – easier said than done because there is salt in most of the food we buy, even savoury foods. Don’t add salt to your cooking
  • check food labels – and avoid foods with high levels of sugar (22.5g per 100g), fat (17.5g), saturated fat (5g) and salt (1.5g)
  • drink more water – up to two litres (eight glasses) a day if possible.

Change4Life Wales has lots of ideas for healthy meals, including snacks, picnics and family meals.

Maintaining a healthy weight

Obesity is rising rapidly, not only in Wales but across the world. Quite simply, a lot of people are eating more calories every day than they actually need.

If you are obese you are more likely to develop certain long-term conditions like Type II diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Certain types of cancer are also linked to obesity.

Visit NHS Direct Wales to check your BMI (body mass index) and find out if you are a healthy weight.

Losing weight

It’s much easier to avoid becoming overweight in the first place; however, it’s never too late to start eating healthier and watch those pounds disappear.

Some people can do it alone but most of us need a little support to lose weight.

Why not ask your family, or a friend or workmate, to join you on your new healthy eating plan. If you need more structured support, you might prefer to join a slimming club. There are plenty around and most have magazines, books and websites full of ‘before and after’ stories and recipes to inspire you.

If you combine healthy eating with more physical activity – you’ll be burning off more calories too!

Remember to tell your GP if you are planning to go on a diet – he or she will tell you if your current weight is healthy or not by calculating your BMI (body mass index) and check for any health conditions which might be causing your weight gain.

Last updated: 30/03/2016