Diet and nutrition

Eating right is an important part of being fit for life. A healthy and well-balanced diet will help to improve health, prevent disease and improve exercise performance.


Includes rice, bread, potatoes, pasta, breakfast cereals, root vegetables. 

  • Main energy provider for your brain and working muscles.
  • Should make up about half your plate at each meal.

Fruits and Vegetables

  • Great source of vitamins and minerals, essential to keep your body functioning well.
  • Aim for five portions each day – think variety and colour! 1 portion = 2 small fruits (plum, Satsuma), 1 medium fruit (apple, pear), 1 tbsp dried fruit, 3 tbsp vegetables (carrots, peas, beans).


Includes lean meat, fish, eggs, low fat dairy, tofu, nuts. 

  • Vital for muscle growth and repair.
  • Try to eat a source of protein at each meal.
  • Choose lower fat versions where possible.


  • Provides energy, protection and insulation.
  • Avoid too many high fat foods like cake, visible meat fat, fried food and crisps.
  • Try lower fat products such as low fat milk.
  • Eat some ‘good’ fats like oily fish, olive oil, nuts.


Includes water, juice, tea, soft drinks, soup, fruit. 

  • Water makes up over half the mass of your body and is needed for maintenance and growth.
  • Most people require about 1.5-2 litres of fluid each day, although this increases in hot weather and when exercising.

Other food groups

Other food groups like fibre, calcium and iron are also important in a balanced and healthy diet.


Beans, fruit & veg, oats, wholegrain/high fibre versions of bread, cereal, rice and pasta. 

  • Fibre is important to keep your bowel functioning properly. Not drinking enough fluid or performing enough physical activity along with a lack of fibre in the diet can cause constipation. This can be uncomfortable and painful.
  • Individuals with a spinal cord injury (SCI) should adjust their own fibre intake to maintain personal bowel movement. Note: Some medications may also affect bowel function.


Beer, wine, spirits. 

  • Alcohol doesn’t contain any essential nutrients and therefore it is not needed in our diet. Avoid excesses and always use low calorie mixers or soda water to make a drink go further.


Milk, cheese, yoghurt, leafy green vegetables. 

  • Calcium is important throughout life to help improve bone density & strength. Low bone density can cause brittle bones, a condition called osteoporosis, which can place you at greater risk of broken or fractured bones. If you can’t do weight-bearing exercise, seek advice from your GP and make sure you consume adequate amounts of calcium.
  • Drinking a pint of milk a day will provide the majority of your calcium requirement. A small individual pot of yoghurt or 1oz./matchbox-sized piece of hard cheese could replace a third of a pint of milk. If you do not eat milk or dairy products, make sure you include calcium fortified foods such as some breakfast cereals & juices or soy products in your diet.


Lean red meat, liver, eggs, dried fruits, dried beans and fortified cereals. 

  • Iron is important because it helps your body to make haemoglobin (Hb). This is the protein found in your red blood cells that carries oxygen around the body and gives blood its red colour. Low Hb can result in a condition called anaemia, which can make you feel tired and weak.

Multivitamin supplements

  • If you are consuming a well-balanced, healthy diet then these should not be necessary. However, if you are restricting energy intake for whatever reason, a multivitamin can help ensure you obtain sufficient micronutrients.
  • Never take a vitamin or mineral in isolation without professional advice from your GP.
  • To check the safety of a supplement and find out if it contains any banned substances, visit