Despite what you see in some diet books and TV programmes, healthy eating is really straightforward.
Meals based on starchy foods such as rice and pasta, with plenty of fruit and vegetables (and not too much fat, salt or sugar) will give you all the nutrients you need, without the extra calories you don't.
When it comes to a healthy diet, balance is the key to getting it right. We all need to provide our bodies with the energy and nutrients required to function well and feel great.
That means eating a wide variety of foods in the right proportion, so that over time we get all the nutrients we need to keep ourselves healthy.
Trouble is, achieving that balance can be tricky. Modern life doesn't always make it easy. After a long day it can be tempting to grab the first ready meal on the supermarket shelf, which is OK occasionally. But if you read the nutritional labels on these foods, you'll see that many ready meals contain high levels of fat, sugar and salt, and not much fibre, vitamins and minerals. If you eat ready meals too often, they'll throw your diet out of balance.
All the food we eat can be divided into five groups. A healthy diet means that you eat the right balance of these groups.
• Starchy foods, such as rice, wholewheat pasta and bread, and potatoes.
• Fruit and vegetables.
• Meat, fish, eggs and beans.
• Milk and dairy foods.
• Foods containing fat and sugar.
Most of us in Britain eat too much fat, sugar and salt, and not enough fruit and vegetables or starchy foods and wholegrains.
You can read more on each of the five food groups, as well as great recipes and cooking tips, at the Food Standards Agency's Eatwell website (see Useful links).
Starchy foods such as bread, cereals, potatoes, pasta, maize and cornbread are a crucial part of a healthy diet. They contain carbohydrates, which are an essential source of energy....