7 tips for healthy eating
These 7 practical tips provide a foundation for healthy eating and can guide you in making improved choices. The cornerstone of a healthy eating is finding the right balance between calorie intake and physical activity. Overeating can lead to weight gain, while under eating can cause weight loss. A diverse range of foods is crucial for a well-rounded diet that meets your nutritional needs. Men should typically aim for approximately 2,500 daily calories, while women should target around 2,000 calories. It’s worth noting that many adults in the UK tend to exceed their necessary calorie intake and would benefit from reducing it.
1. Base your meals on higher fibre starchy carbohydrates
Starchy carbohydrates should comprise about one-third of your food intake and include items like potatoes, bread, rice, pasta, and cereals. Opt for higher-fiber or wholegrain options such as whole wheat pasta, brown rice, or potatoes with their skins for added fullness. Include at least one starchy food in your main meals. While some believe starchy foods are fattening, they actually provide fewer calories per gram than fat. Be mindful of added fats when preparing or serving these foods, as they can increase calorie content, like oil on fries, butter on bread, or creamy sauces on pasta.
2. Eat lots of fruit and veg
Eating a minimum of 5 servings of various fruits and vegetables daily is recommended. These can be fresh, frozen, canned, dried, or in juice form. Incorporating your 5 A Day is simple – you can add sliced banana to your cereal or replace your usual mid-morning snack with a piece of fresh fruit. A serving of fresh, canned, or frozen produce amounts to 80g, while dried fruit (preferably consumed during meals) should be limited to 30g. You can also count a 150ml glass of fruit or vegetable juice or a smoothie as 1 portion, but it’s advisable not to exceed 1 glass a day due to their sugar content, which can harm your teeth.
3. Eat more fish, including a portion of oily fish
Fish is a nutritious source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. It’s recommended to have at least 2 servings of fish per week, with one being oily fish like salmon and mackerel, rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fats. Non-oily fish such as haddock and cod are also good choices. Whether fresh, frozen, or canned, be mindful of salt content, especially in canned and smoked options. While most people should include more fish in their diet, some fish types should be eaten in moderation, adhering to recommended limits.
4. Cut down on saturated fat and sugar
- Limit saturated fat to lower cholesterol and heart disease risk.
- Men should have no more than 30g a day, women no more than 20g.
- Children under 11 should consume less saturated fat, with no low-fat diets for those under 5.
- Found in foods like fatty meats, sausages, butter, cheese, cakes, and biscuits.
- Opt for unsaturated fats in vegetable oils, oily fish, and avocados.
- Use small amounts of vegetable or olive oil instead of butter.
- Choose lean meat cuts and trim visible fat.
- All fats should be eaten sparingly due to their high energy content.
- Regularly consuming sugary foods and drinks raises the risk of obesity and tooth decay.
- Sugary items are calorie-dense and can contribute to weight gain.
- Free sugars are added to foods or found in honey, syrups, and unsweetened fruit juices.
- Focus on reducing free sugars, not those naturally occurring in fruit and milk.
- Many packaged foods and drinks contain high levels of free sugars.
- Sources include sugary drinks, cereals, cakes, biscuits, sweets, and alcoholic beverages.
- Foods with over 22.5g of total sugars per 100g are high in sugar, while those with 5g or less are low in sugar.
5. Eat less salt: no more than 6g a day for adults
To enhance eating, it is vital to limit salt intake to lower blood pressure:
- Excessive salt can elevate blood pressure, increasing the risk of heart disease and strokes.
- Even without adding salt, you may still consume too much.
- Approximately 75% of the salt in your diet comes from pre-packaged foods like cereals, soups, bread, and sauces.
- Check food labels to reduce salt intake; over 1.5g of salt per 100g is considered high.
- For adults and children aged 11 and above, the daily salt limit is 6g (about a teaspoon). Younger children should have even less.
6. Do not get thirsty
Stay hydrated with 6 to 8 glasses of fluids daily:
- Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration, in addition to the liquids in your food.
- Opt for healthier choices like water, low-fat milk, and tea or coffee with less sugar.
- Avoid sugary soft drinks, as they are calorie-rich and harmful to teeth.
- Be mindful of the sugar content in unsweetened fruit juices and smoothies.
- Limit your combined intake of fruit juice, vegetable juice, and smoothies to 150ml daily.
- Increase fluid intake in hot weather or during physical activity.
7. Do not skip breakfast
Skipping breakfast is not a weight loss strategy. A nutritious breakfast, rich in fiber and low in fat, sugar, and salt, is essential for a balanced diet and provides vital nutrients for your health. Opt for a satisfying breakfast like wholegrain, low-sugar cereal with semi-skimmed milk and sliced fruit on top for a delicious and healthy start to your day.