What we eat affects how we feel and how healthy we are now and in the future.
1. Grab your 5 a day
Eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables will help to keep your body healthy and ensure you get plenty 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.
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.
2. What is this ‘portion’ that everyone talks about?
A portion of fruit is about a handful, while a portion of vegetables is about three 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 five portions it’s important to try and have some each day.
3. Have carbohydrates (a starchy food choice) with every meal
Carbohydrates include bread, rice, pasta, wraps, pitta, chapattis, pancakes, cereals and potatoes.
These foods provide your body with energy, so having a starchy choice at each meal will boost your energy levels.
They are naturally low in fat, high in vitamins and minerals and, if you go for the wholegrain/brown varieties, full of fibre. But be careful 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 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-rich 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, lentils and other ‘pulses’ and from 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 don’t eat them too often. Fat and sugar intake can creep up on you surprisingly quickly.
If you’re eating a balance of healthy meals and snacks throughout the day, you’re less likely to feel hungry and crave the high fat/sugar foods.
7. Eat your breakfast
Eating breakfast is a great way to kick start your day, getting in those important vitamins and minerals, giving you the energy you need and helping boost your concentration.
You’re also less likely to snack on high sugar/fat foods if you’ve had a good breakfast.
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 two of your five 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.
As well as three regular meals, you should plan for one to three 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. If you don’t drink enough, you might find it hard to concentrate, feel tired or get headaches.
This should be mostly water – one can be a 150ml of fruit juice (see point 2), but don’t fill up on fruit juice as it’s high in sugar. The same goes for some flavoured waters.
Definitely don’t fuel up on energy drinks; find out why here.
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 school nurse.
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