‘You are what you eat.’
Healthy eating is the key to our wellbeing. We all have up to 100 trillion cells in our bodies, each cell demanding a constant supply of daily nutrients in order to function properly. Food affects all of these cells, and by extension, every aspect of our being; mood, energy levels, thinking capacity, sleeping habits and general health. If you feed your body with good food you will be healthy, if you feed it with junk/bad food you will be unhealthy.
Good nutrition is one of the keys to a healthy life. You can improve your health by eating a balanced diet. You should eat foods that contain vitamins and minerals.
A healthy eating plan emphasizes on the following:
- Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products.
- Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts.
- Low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars.
Fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals and fibre. Not only do they make you feel great, they can also help protect you against heart disease and some forms of cancer.
Starchy carbohydrates (or starchy energy foods) should form the biggest part of your diet along with fruits and vegetables. Not only are they energy providers, they are also source of fibre and vitamins B. Carbohydrate foods are your body’s fuel and it’s best to choose slow-burning options. Go for wholegrain varieties like multi-grain/wholemeal bread, wholegrain pasta and brown rice.
Milk and dairy foods like cheese and yogurt are an important source of calcium, protein and vitamins A and B12. Try to have some every day. They also contain fat, so look out for lower fat options where possible, like swapping whole milk for semi-skimmed or swapping creamy yogurts for low fat varieties.
Beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins. The foods in this group offer you a host of benefits and are a great source of protein and iron. Choose lower fat alternatives where possible. Pulses such as lentils, peas and beans (either dried or tinned) are great lower fat choices and can also help lower your blood cholesterol – these, along with eggs, are cheaper than some of the other sources of protein.
Foods high in fat, salt and sugar include cakes, buns, biscuits, sweet or savoury pastry, confectionery, crisps, sugary drinks, fresh cream, and butter. These foods are not needed in a healthy diet so they should be consumed only occasionally and in small amounts, if at all. Choose water instead of sugary drinks and juices. If you take sugar in hot drinks, try to reduce this gradually over a few weeks until your taste buds adapt and you can cut it out altogether. Have some fruit instead of cakes and biscuits.
Oils and spreads – we need some fat in our diet. However, we generally eat more than is good for our health. Try to choose fats and oils that are labelled ‘high in polyunsaturates’ or ‘high in monounsaturates’ and limit the amount you use. Spread butter, margarine or low fat spreads thinly. When cooking, measure oil on a spoon instead of pouring from the bottle, as you have more control over the amount being added.