Healthy Living - Healthy Eating


Food plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and its importance cannot be underestimated. Taking an interest in food and being motivated to look at what we eat is probably the most important aspect of improving our diet.

Eating healthily is relatively straightforward and is based around balancing the types of food that we eat. The information contained within this page should help develop the idea of balancing foods in our diet and give practical tips on how this works.

In certain medical conditions more specific diets are important and these should be discussed with your doctor.

Types of food

Most of the food that we eat can be largely grouped into five main categories. While nearly all of the food groups provide some positives in the form of vitamins, minerals and energy, to have too much of them can also be detrimental.

The main groups are:

  • Fruit and vegetables.
  • Starchy foods.
  • Fish, meat, eggs and beans.
  • Milk and Dairy.
  • Fat and sugar.

The following links offer good simple advice on how best to balance our food intake and then maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Fruit and Vegetables

There has been lots of work done looking at the positive impact of eating fruit and vegetables, thought to be directly attributable to the vitamins and minerals that they contain.

There is evidence that by eating five portions of fruit or vegetables a day that risk of cardiovascular problems and some cancers are reduced. One portion equates to one banana or apple. In terms of vegetables it equates to three heaped tablespoons of vegetables.

In order to help plan a balanced menu containing recommended amounts of fruit and vegetables, this shopping tool may be useful.

Starchy Foods

These include bread, cereals, pasta and potatoes. Not only do these foods provide vitamins they also are the main source of fuel for our bodies to work well. Fibre is also a form of starch and this and diets high in fibre help prevent constipation.

Starchy food should make up one third of our diet and often forms a part of most meals.

Meat and Fish

Not only do meat and fish contain vitamins and minerals, but they also provide protein, which is a crucial building block to growth and repair.

It is advised to try and eat two portions of fish per week, of which one should be an oily fish.

With regard to meat, think about the cuts of meat that are being cooked. For example, try and get the leanest pieces of meat and trim off any excess fat. Also remember that the way in which meat is cooked (for example frying) can have a significant impact upon its fat content.

Milk and Dairy

Milk and dairy products contain many vitamins and also calcium, which is good for our bones. It is important to remember that some dairy products contain quite high levels of saturated fat and ways to reduce this include using semi-skimmed milk and low fat yoghurts.

Fat and Sugar

Both fat and sugar are great sources of energy, but this means that when we do not use all of this energy in the form of activity and exercise, our bodies form fat stores which in turn cause us to put on weight.

Not all fats are bad and different types of fat will have contrasting effects upon both are cholesterol levels and also our cardiovascular risk. The following link provides some further information about the types of fat that exist and which foods contain both good and bad fats.

How can Lion Health help?

The Lion Health Surgery has many health care professionals including the nursing team and health care assistants who can give you a wide range of health promotion advice.

Many of our health promotion and chronic disease clinics will discuss diet as part of our assessment.

For those who meet specific criteria, we can offer weight watchers vouchers for those motivated to lose weight by this particular method. You can contact reception to request referral to a slimming club.

Specific diets

There are times when the doctors may advise patients to have a low salt diet (particularly in those with high blood pressure) or a low potassium diet. These special diets should only be undertaken after consultation with your doctor.


Cholesterol Lowering and Weight Reducing Dietary Advice: