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Good nutrition and balanced diet

A healthy, balanced diet combined with plenty of fluids, and an active lifestyle, can dramatically improve health and well-being. It is an important step towards good health, and is essential for a full and active life. 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. 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.

A healthy diet

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 and potatoes are good examples. Oats, beans, peas, lentils, fruit, and vegetables are also sources of fibre.

Iron-rich foods - The best source of iron is red meat. It can also be found in 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 are all good sources of vitamin C.

Calcium-rich foods - These foods will help keep bones strong. Good sources of calcium are dairy products such as milk, cheese and yoghurt. Other sources of calcium include green leafy vegetables (such as broccoli and cabbage, but not spinach), soya beans, and tofu.

Getting the food you need to eat well

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 Meal Services offers lots of ideas on how you can overcome these problems.

Support from a dietician

If you are concerned about your diet or appetite, then talk to your GP. You may be referred 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.

Food and poverty

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  food banks provide a minimum of three days emergency food and support to people experiencing crisis in the UK. 

FoodCycle is a UK charity that combines volunteers, surplus food, and spare kitchen spaces. They create tasty, nutritious meals for people at risk of food poverty and social isolation.

Weight management


Free weight management programmes and services for adults and children are provided across the county by Anglian Community Enterprise (ACE). They'll help you get fitter and enjoy a healthier relationship with food, too.

Health Trainers  Essex Lifestyles Service

They offer stop smoking support, guidance on diet and exercise, and help with developing increased self-esteem and self-management. They also offer classes to support people suffering from long term conditions, and are able to sign post people to appropriate support provided in their community.Provide's Essex Lifestyle Service aims to empower the people of Essex to make healthy lifestyle choices, and live healthier happier lives. This is done by listening to you, discussing your needs and providing up to date support to help you make changes to your current lifestyle.

Other information and advice

Information leaflets from the NHS

The NHS have produced a series of fact-sheets and leaflets with advice on how to eat healthily:

Essex Libraries have a useful booklist you may be interested in reading called 'Eating Well'. 

Other useful websites

The Change4Life campaign includes recipes and ideas on how the whole family can make changes towards a healthier lifestyle.

Age UK have a section on their website about Healthy Eating.

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 some Recipe Leaflets

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