Healthy Eating

Healthy eating

Our bodies are complex, and we need enough fuel and nutrients to carry out a huge variety of functions everyday – from fighting infection to repairing everyday wear and tear. Good nutrition is vital for health and well-being.

A poor diet can contribute to obesity, malnutrition, diabetes, cancer, stroke and heart disease. The World Health Organization has identified an unhealthy diet as one of the leading global risks to health.

In Scotland, we tend to eat too much of the foods that are less healthy, such as sugary drinks and processed foods that are high in saturated fat or salt. Most of us know that eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day is good for our health, but we don’t always manage to achieve this.

There are lots of reasons why eating a healthy diet can be difficult. NHS Lothian and our partners are working to improve access to healthy foods and increase knowledge, confidence and skills in cooking and healthy eating.

What’s a healthy diet?

A healthy diet for most people is based on the Eatwell Plate. This means that we should aim to eat a wide variety of foods in the right proportions, including:
·         Plenty of fruit and vegetables
·         Plenty of starchy foods, such as bread, rice, potatoes and pasta
·         Some meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein
·         Some milk and dairy foods
·         Just a small amount of food and drinks that are high in fat and/or sugar.
The healthy eating recommendations are different for babies and young children. People with certain health conditions may be given tailored advice by a dietitian.

What is a healthy weight?

The key to a healthy weight is eating the right amount of food for how active you are.

To work out whether you are a healthy weight, you can use the NHS Choices healthy weight calculator 
content provided by NHS Choices
The calculator uses the body mass index (BMI) to assess whether you are underweight, a healthy weight, overweight or obese for your height. Remember these figures are just a guide. If you are concerned about your weight, your doctor may be able to refer you to NHS Lothian’s weight management service.

Further information

You may find the following sites helpful:

NHS Lothian Health Promotion Service’s Food and Health pages.

NHS Lothian’s Breastfeeding Support pages.

West Lothian CHCP’s Get Cooking project.

Midlothian’s Community Food Map.

NHS Inform, which provides answers to some common questions on food and diet.

British Dietetic Association, which has produced a range of food fact sheets.

healthyliving award – the sign of healthier food.



Last Reviewed: 05/12/2014