How much food do I need to have a healthy diet?
A healthy diet should provide us with the right amount of energy (calories or kilojoules), from foods and drinks to maintain energy balance. Energy balance is where the calories taken in from the diet are equal to the calories used by the body. We need these calories to carry out everyday tasks such as walking and moving about, but also for all the functions of the body we may not even think about. Processes like breathing, pumping blood around the body and thinking also require calories.
So, foods and drinks provide the calories we need to go about our daily lives, but consuming more calories than we need over a period of time will cause weight gain. This is because, any extra calories we consume but we don’t use, will just be stored as fat.
Over 50% of adults in the UK are overweight or obese. There is also a huge concern about childhood obesity, where 1 in 3 children aged 4-5, and 1 in 5 children aged 10-11, are overweight or obese. Being overweight as a child increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers in adulthood. So, maintaining a healthy weight is really important for health.
How much energy you need from foods and drinks depends on many different things, such as how active you are. But, on average:
Eating only as many calories as you need will help to maintain a healthy weight. However, the foods and drinks you choose need to be the right ones, and in the right proportions to stay healthy. Having this balance in your diet can be achieved by following the Eatwell Guide.