Please see the following information about staying healthy both physically and mentally.
We thank our partners in Health for their contributions
These 8 practical tips cover the basics of healthy eating and can help you make healthier choices.
The key to a healthy diet is to eat the right amount of calories for how active you are so you balance the energy you consume with the energy you use.
If you eat or drink more than your body needs, you'll put on weight because the energy you do not use is stored as fat. If you eat and drink too little, you'll lose weight.
You should also eat a wide range of foods to make sure you're getting a balanced diet and your body is receiving all the nutrients it needs.
It's recommended that men have around 2,500 calories a day (10,500 kilojoules). Women should have around 2,000 calories a day (8,400 kilojoules).
Most adults in the UK are eating more calories than they need and should eat fewer calories.
1. Base your meals on higher fibre starchy carbohydrates
Starchy carbohydrates should make up just over a third of the food you eat. They include potatoes, bread, rice, pasta and cereals.
Choose higher fibre or wholegrain varieties, such as wholewheat pasta, brown rice or potatoes with their skins on.
They contain more fibre than white or refined starchy carbohydrates and can help you feel full for longer.
Try to include at least 1 starchy food with each main meal. Some people think starchy foods are fattening, but gram for gram the carbohydrate they contain provides fewer than half the calories of fat.
Keep an eye on the fats you add when you're cooking or serving these types of foods because that's what increases the calorie content – for example, oil on chips, butter on bread and creamy sauces on pasta.
2. Eat lots of fruit and veg
It's recommended that you eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and veg every day. They can be fresh, frozen, canned, dried or juiced.
Getting your 5 A Day is easier than it sounds. Why not chop a banana over your breakfast cereal, or swap your usual mid-morning snack for a piece of fresh fruit?
A portion of fresh, canned or frozen fruit and vegetables is 80g. A portion of dried fruit (which should be kept to mealtimes) is 30g.
A 150ml glass of fruit juice, vegetable juice or smoothie also counts as 1 portion, but limit the amount you have to no more than 1 glass a day as these drinks are sugary and can damage your teeth.
3. Eat more fish, including a portion of oily fish
Fish is a good source of protein and contains many vitamins and minerals.
Aim to eat at least 2 portions of fish a week, including at least 1 portion of oily fish.
Oily fish are high in omega-3 fats, which may help prevent heart disease.
Oily fish include:
Non-oily fish include:
You can choose from fresh, frozen and canned, but remember that canned and smoked fish can be high in salt.
Most people should be eating more fish, but there are recommended limits for some types of fish.
4. Cut down on saturated fat and sugar
You need some fat in your diet, but it's important to pay attention to the amount and type of fat you're eating.
There are 2 main types of fat: saturated and unsaturated. Too much saturated fat can increase the amount of cholesterol in the blood, which increases your risk of developing heart disease.
On average, men should have no more than 30g of saturated fat a day. On average, women should have no more than 20g of saturated fat a day.
Children under the age of 11 should have less saturated fat than adults, but a low-fat diet is not suitable for children under 5.
Saturated fat is found in many foods, such as:
- fatty cuts of meat
- hard cheese
Try to cut down on your saturated fat intake and choose foods that contain unsaturated fats instead, such as vegetable oils and spreads, oily fish and avocados.
For a healthier choice, use a small amount of vegetable or olive oil, or reduced-fat spread instead of butter, lard or ghee.
When you're having meat, choose lean cuts and cut off any visible fat.
All types of fat are high in energy, so they should only be eaten in small amounts.
Sugary foods and drinks are often high in energy (measured in kilojoules or calories), and if consumed too often can contribute to weight gain. They can also cause tooth decay, especially if eaten between meals.
Free sugars are any sugars added to foods or drinks, or found naturally in honey, syrups and unsweetened fruit juices and smoothies.
This is the type of sugar you should be cutting down on, rather than the sugar found in fruit and milk.
Many packaged foods and drinks contain surprisingly high amounts of free sugars.
Free sugars are found in many foods, such as:
- sugary fizzy drinks
- sugary breakfast cereals
- pastries and puddings
- sweets and chocolate
- alcoholic drinks
Food labels can help. Use them to check how much sugar foods contain.
More than 22.5g of total sugars per 100g means the food is high in sugar, while 5g of total sugars or less per 100g means the food is low in sugar.
5. Eat less salt: no more than 6g a day for adults
Eating too much salt can raise your blood pressure. People with high blood pressure are more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke.
Even if you do not add salt to your food, you may still be eating too much.
About three-quarters of the salt you eat is already in the food when you buy it, such as breakfast cereals, soups, breads and sauces.
Use food labels to help you cut down. More than 1.5g of salt per 100g means the food is high in salt.
Adults and children aged 11 and over should eat no more than 6g of salt (about a teaspoonful) a day. Younger children should have even less.
6. Get active and be a healthy weight
As well as eating healthily, regular exercise may help reduce your risk of getting serious health conditions. It's also important for your overall health and wellbeing.
Being overweight or obese can lead to health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, heart disease and stroke. Being underweight could also affect your health.
Most adults need to lose weight by eating fewer calories.
If you're trying to lose weight, aim to eat less and be more active. Eating a healthy, balanced diet can help you maintain a healthy weight.
7. Do not get thirsty
You need to drink plenty of fluids to stop you getting dehydrated. The government recommends drinking 6 to 8 glasses every day. This is in addition to the fluid you get from the food you eat.
All non-alcoholic drinks count, but water, lower fat milk and lower sugar drinks, including tea and coffee, are healthier choices.
Try to avoid sugary soft and fizzy drinks, as they're high in calories. They're also bad for your teeth.
Even unsweetened fruit juice and smoothies are high in free sugar.
Your combined total of drinks from fruit juice, vegetable juice and smoothies should not be more than 150ml a day, which is a small glass.
Remember to drink more fluids during hot weather or while exercising.
8. Do not skip breakfast
Some people skip breakfast because they think it'll help them lose weight.
But a healthy breakfast high in fibre and low in fat, sugar and salt can form part of a balanced diet, and can help you get the nutrients you need for good health.
A wholegrain lower sugar cereal with semi-skimmed milk and fruit sliced over the top is a tasty and healthier breakfast.
5 steps to mental wellbeing
Evidence suggests there are 5 steps you can take to improve your mental health and wellbeing. Trying these things could help you feel more positive and able to get the most out of life.
1. Connect with other people
Good relationships are important for your mental wellbeing. They can:
- help you to build a sense of belonging and self-worth
- give you an opportunity to share positive experiences
- provide emotional support and allow you to support others
There are lots of things you could try to help build stronger and closer relationships:
- if possible, take time each day to be with your family, for example, try arranging a fixed time to eat dinner together
- arrange a day out with friends you have not seen for a while
- try switching off the TV to talk or play a game with your children, friends or family
- have lunch with a colleague
- visit a friend or family member who needs support or company
- volunteer at a local school, hospital or community group. Find out how to volunteer on the GOV.UK website
- make the most of technology to stay in touch with friends and family. Video-chat apps like Skype and FaceTime are useful, especially if you live far apart
- search and download online community apps on the NHS apps library
- do not rely on technology or social media alone to build relationships. It's easy to get into the habit of only ever texting, messaging or emailing people
2. Be physically active
Being active is not only great for your physical health and fitness. Evidence also shows it can also improve your mental wellbeing by:
- raising your self-esteem
- helping you to set goals or challenges and achieve them
- causing chemical changes in your brain which can help to positively change your mood
- find free activities to help you get fit
- if you have a disability or long-term health condition, find out about getting active with a disability
- start running with our couch to 5k podcasts
- find out how to start swimming, cycling or dancing
- find out about getting started with exercise
- do not feel that you have to spend hours in a gym. It's best to find activities you enjoy and make them a part of your life
3. Learn new skills
Research shows that learning new skills can also improve your mental wellbeing by:
- boosting self-confidence and raising self-esteem
- helping you to build a sense of purpose
- helping you to connect with others
Even if you feel like you do not have enough time, or you may not need to learn new things, there are lots of different ways to bring learning into your life.
Some of the things you could try include:
- try learning to cook something new. Find out about healthy eating and cooking tips
- try taking on a new responsibility at work, such as mentoring a junior staff member or improving your presentation skills
- work on a DIY project, such as fixing a broken bike, garden gate or something bigger. There are lots of free video tutorials online
- consider signing up for a course at a local college. You could try learning a new language or a practical skill such as plumbing
- try new hobbies that challenge you, such as writing a blog, taking up a new sport or learning to paint
- do not feel you have to learn new qualifications or sit exams if this does not interest you. It's best to find activities you enjoy and make them a part of your life
4. Give to others
Research suggests that acts of giving and kindness can help improve your mental wellbeing by:
- creating positive feelings and a sense of reward
- giving you a feeling of purpose and self-worth
- helping you connect with other people
It could be small acts of kindness towards other people, or larger ones like volunteering in your local community.
Some examples of the things you could try include:
- saying thank you to someone for something they have done for you
- asking friends, family or colleagues how they are and really listening to their answer
- spending time with friends or relatives who need support or company
- offering to help someone you know with DIY or a work project
- volunteering in your community, such as helping at a school, hospital or care home
5. Pay attention to the present moment (mindfulness)
Paying more attention to the present moment can improve your mental wellbeing. This includes your thoughts and feelings, your body and the world around you.
Some people call this awareness "mindfulness". Mindfulness can help you enjoy life more and understand yourself better. It can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges.
- Frequent headaches or stomach upsets
- Suffering from frequent minor illnesses
- Difficulty sleeping or constant tiredness
- Being run down
- Lack of care over appearance
- Sudden weight loss or gain
Emotional and Behavioural:
- Irritability, aggression or tearfulness
- Being withdrawn, not participating in conversations or social activities
- Increased arguments or conflict with others
- Increased consumption of caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes and sedatives
- Indecision, inability to concentrate
- Erratic or socially unacceptable behaviour
- Being louder or more exuberant than usual
- Loss of confidence
- Difficulty remembering things
- Loss of humour.
10 Keys to Happier Living:
Relating; to strengthen connections with friends and family, to try to reconnect with people you have not seen for a long period.
Exercising; participate in regular activities, this provides an endorphin boost and increase confidence. Walk or cycle for short journeys. Find something that you enjoy and fit it around your day.
Awareness; become more in tune with your body and senses. Begin to reflect each day about positive things that have happened.
Giving; offer your friends and family some support and listen to them without judgement.
Trying Out; try to find a new hobby or activity to participate in. Consider learning something new.
Direction; set yourself SMART goals (Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relatable, Time-Based). Celebrate your progress; even the small steps are important.
Meaning; participate in activities that have value and meaning for you. Begin to notice how your actions can make a difference.
Resilience; find an outlet such as talking to someone or writing things down.
Emotions; begin to notice your emotions and things you are grateful to have in your life. Positive emotions reduce stress.
Acceptance; be kind to yourself. Focus on the positives. Remember all of the things you do have.
This are links to frequently ask questions about mental health.
Support for finances that can affect your wellbeing.
Crisis and Emotional Support:
Mental Health Information
- Mind Infoline
Phone: 0300 123 3393 (9am-6pm Mon-Fri)
- Rethink Advice and Information
Phone: 0300 5000 927 (9:30am-4pm)
Addiction and Substance Misuse
- Adfam – Families Drugs and Alcohol
Phone: 0300 123 1110 (9am-8pm Mon-Fri, 11am-4pm Sat-Sun)
General Mental Health