What we eat affects how we feel, how healthy we are now and in the future.
1. Grab your 5 a day
Eating at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables will help to keep your body healthy and fill you full of vital vitamins and minerals. They are also low in fat and high in fibre. Fruit and vegetables give you energy, boost your immune system, help you go to the loo regularly and can even protect you from some cancers – it’s all good! Try to eat as many different types of fruit and vegetables, too – there are literally hundreds to choose from, and loads of different way to cook and combine them. Yum, yum!
2. What is this ‘portion’ that everyone goes on about?
A portion of fruit is about a handful, while a portion of vegetables is about 3 tablespoons. You can also include salad and a small glass of fruit juice once a day. Remember fresh, frozen, dried and tinned all count and if you can’t manage 5 portions it is important to try and have some each day.
3. Have carbohydrates (a starchy food choice) with every meal
These include bread, rice, pasta, wraps, pitta, chapattis, pancakes, cereals and potatoes and provide your body with energy. Having a starchy choice at each meal will boost your energy levels. These foods are naturally low fat, high in vitamins and minerals and, if you go for the wholegrain/brown varieties, full of fibre. But watch out that the cereal you pick it not full of sugar, that the pancake is not covered in chocolate sauce and ice cream, or that the pitta bread is not oozing with cheese. Carbohydrates are not fatty – but what you put on them might just be.
4. Have 3 portions of lower fat dairy each day
Milk, yoghurt and cheese all count towards your dairy intake. These foods are high in calcium, which is needed to keep your teeth and bones healthy. A portion would be 200ml of milk, 150g of yoghurt or 25g of cheese.
5. Eat 2 portions of protein food each day
Protein is found in pork, beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, fish and eggs. Don’t eat some of those meats? Vegetarian? No problem you can still get all the protein you need from beans and vegetarian options like soya mince or Quorn products. Protein is needed for growth, development and repairing your body – so it’s vital to keep you fit and strong. A portion is the size of the palm of your hand.
6. Cut down on high fat/sugar foods
These foods do give you energy but if you have too many then you’re more likely to put on weight. Even if you are a healthy weight, if you have too much fat and sugar you will be putting a strain on your body – even if you can’t see it and don’t feel it. Try to plan in when you have these food and drinks so that you do not eat them too often – remember point 3? Fat and sugar intake can creep up on you surprisingly quickly.
7. Break that fast!
You are more likely to be a healthy weight by having a healthy breakfast every day, as you are less likely to snack on high sugar/fat foods. Healthy breakfast ideas include cereals (Weetabix, porridge, Shreddies, etc.), brown toast, yoghurt with fruit, toasted teacake, fruit bread or crumpets. Why don’t you see if you can get 2 of your 5 a day in before even leaving the house?
8. Eat, play, snack, play, repeat
It’s easier to follow a healthy balanced diet by having regular meals (breakfast, lunch and evening meals) – you are then less likely to snack on high fat/sugar foods and you will be helping your body by regularly providing the nutrients it needs to stay healthy. Scientists have proven that skipping meals does not help with sustainable weight loss, so why bother? As well 3 regular meals, you should plan for 1-3 healthy snacks a day. These could be fruit and vegetables, breadsticks, malt loaf, toast, yoghurts, pancakes, scones or a toasted teacake.
9. Drink 6-8 drinks every day
You need to drink 6-8 drinks a day to keep your body hydrated. This should be mostly water – one can be a fruit juice (see point 2), but don’t fill up on fruit juice as it’s pretty full of sugar. The same goes for flavoured water. Definitely don’t fuel up on energy drinks. If you do not drink enough, you might find it hard to concentrate, feel tired or get headaches.
how to get help
If you have any more questions on this area or would like to speak to somebody about this topic, have a look at the links or search for your local services in the blue box below. Alternatively you can always contact your public health nurse.
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