Why diet and nutrition helps your health

Eating well is important for all of us. It helps us to stay as healthy as we can be. But many of us find it hard to eat well every day.

Only one-third of people in Ireland eat the recommended amount of vegetables, salads and fruit each day. Many people eat less healthy foods such as chocolate, cakes and crisps on a daily basis.

In Ireland, 62% of the adult population is overweight or obese. 1 in 4 children aged 7 is either overweight or obese.

Benefits of eating healthily

When you eat well, you reduce your chance of developing certain diseases. If you have children, you’re also more likely to pass on good eating habits to them.

Good eating habits can lead to:

  • a healthy body weight
  • a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer
  • a healthy cholesterol level
  • an improved sense of wellbeing

Diet, nutrition and your body

Foods are made up of nutrients. Protein, fat and vitamins are types of nutrients. Your body needs the right mix of nutrients to be healthy and well.

Different foods contain different nutrients. Choosing a mixture of foods every day will help you get all the nutrients you need to grow and be healthy. This is what it means to eat a balanced diet.

Foods that contain the same types of nutrients are grouped together as:

  • vegetables, salads and fruit
  • wholemeal cereals and bread, potatoes, pasta and rice
  • reduced-fat or low-fat milk, yoghurt and cheese
  • lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans and nuts
  • fats, spreads and oils

Food also gives you the fuel (calories) you need for your body to work. If you take in more calories than you use, you’ll put on weight and become overweight. If you don’t take in enough calories, you’ll be underweight. Either is bad for your health.

How to eat well

Making small changes to your diet can make big differences to your health now and in the future.

Healthy eating for families

Keeping active

Healthy eating combined with keeping active can give you a healthy lifestyle and add years to your life.

Find out more about getting active and how fitness can help your health

Page last reviewed: 30 January 2019
Next review due: 30 January 2022