10 rules for a balanced diet


What exactly is a balanced diet? How much of which foods should you eat?  Here are some simple rules on healthy eating that absolutely anyone can follow if they put their minds to it.

The ten rules:

  • Get down to and maintain your desirable body weight
  • Reduce your total fat intake, particularly your intake of saturated fats and trans fats
  • Ensure adequate intake of mono- and certain poly-unsaturated fats
  • Reduce your intake of foods high in cholesterol 
  • Increase your fibre intake
  • Use sugar and foods high in simple carbohydrates in moderation
  • Use less salt
  • Eat a variety of foods
  • Drink alcohol only in moderation and regularly rather than in binges
  • Drink enough water or other fluids throughout the day (let thirst be your guide - remember that drinking too much water can actually be dangerous)

Healthy food choices include:

Fats, oils and nuts

  • Sunflower, canola, olive and soya oils
  • Soft margarines (check the label to see if it's free of trans fats)
  • Non-stick vegetable sprays
  • Almonds, pecan, hazelnuts and peanuts in moderation

Meat, fish and poultry

  • Lean cuts only
  • Portion sizes must be 90g to 120g a day – about the size of your palm
  • Eat chicken without the skin
  • Eat fish at least twice a week
  • Shellfish is fine, but limit your intake of prawns, shrimps and caviar
  • Tinned fish should be in water or brine

Lentils and dry beans

  • All types of lentils, peas and beans
  • Baked beans and other tinned beans


  •  You can eat one egg a day as part of a healthy, balanced diet. Avoid having fried eggs, rather choose boiled, poached or scrambled 

Milk and milk products

  • Low-fat and skim milk
  • Low-fat and fat-free yoghurt
  • Low-fat and fat-free cottage cheese
  • Low-fat buttermilk

Breads and cereals

  • Brown, wholewheat and low-GI bread
  • Oats, oat bran and maize meal
  • High-fibre, low-fat breakfast cereals
  • Low-fat wholewheat crackers
  • Rice and pasta

Fruit and vegetables

  • Eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day
  • Choose fresh fruits instead of fruit juices
  • Use avocado and olives in moderation


  • Tea and coffee without sugar, diet cold drinks, sugar-free squash
  • Use sweetened cold drinks in moderation
  • Use fruit juice in moderation
  • If you drink alcohol, have no more than two drinks a day (1 drink = 340ml beer or 120ml wine or 25ml spirits). Avoid alcohol if you have high blood pressure or if you are overweight.


  • Choose fresh fruit, jelly, skim-milk custard, fat-free or low-fat yoghurt, fruit ices, fruit yoghurt

Avoid the following foods:

Fats and oils:

  • Butter
  • Hard brick margarine, brick cooking fat, lard
  • All fried foods
  • Coconut and biscuits containing coconut
  • Mayonnaise

Meat, fish and poultry:

  • Fatty beef, pork and mutton
  • Processed meats such as salami and polony
  • Organ meats such as offal, liver and kidneys
  • Tinned meat and pies
  • Take-aways such as fried chicken and hamburgers
  • Deep-fried foods such as doughnuts and samoosas

Milk and milk products:

  • Full-cream milk
  • Condensed milk
  • Cream, artificial cream, coffee and tea creamers
  • Full-fat ice cream and yoghurt
  • Full-fat cheeses

Breads and cereals:

  • White bread and rolls
  • Refined breakfast cereals
  • Salted, high-fat savoury snacks
  • Biscuits, cakes, puddings, chocolates, fudge etc.
  • Crisps, corn crisps, other savoury snacks
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