The good news is, looking at your food choices can have a huge impact and help you make those first steps to reduce your risk.
Eating better isn’t just about watching calories, it’s about making sure you are eating the right type of foods and in the right portion sizes.
What should I eat?
The eatwell guide shows how much of what we eat should come from each food group to a healthy, balanced diet.
Try to get the eatwell balance right over a day or week, it doesn’t need to be at every meal.
Drink plenty of fluids
- Water, tea, coffee, squash – they all count. Aim for 6-8 glasses a day
- Fruit juice and smoothies count but they do contain natural sugars – limit yourself to 150ml a day
Fruit & Veg
- We should all aim to eat 5 portions of fruit and veg each day. Fresh, frozen, tinned – they all count.
- Aim for 2 portions of fruit and 3 portions of veg to make up your 5 a day.
- Over 1/3 of our food each day should be a combination of fruit and veg
- Try high in fibre options such as brown rice, wholewheat bread or simply leave the skin on your potatoes.
- 1/3 of our food each day should be a combination of starchy foods
Milk & Dairy
- Milk, cheese and yoghurt are all great sources protein and calcium which makes our bones strong
- Give lower fat products a go – semi skimmed or skimmed milk, lower fat yoghurts
Pulses, eggs, meat & fish
- Choose lean cuts of meat and mince and reduce the amount of red meat and processed meat such sausages
- Pulses are delicious and a great alternative to meat. They are low in fat and high in protein and fibre. Chick peas, lentils, beans and peas give them a go.
Spreads & oils
- Unsaturated fats are better, try rapeseed oil or olive oil
- All types of spreads and oils are high in calories and are still fats. Eat them in small amounts
- these foods include: chocolate, crisps, butter, fizzy sugary drinks
- We know everyone enjoys them but they are not needed in our diet. Eat them less often.
Understanding Food Labels
When you are in the supermarket, understanding the labelling on food will really help you to make healthier choices. The labels on food give you key information such as:
- Nutrients (fat, calories, carbohydrates etc)
- How its contributes to your daily recommended intake
On the back is typically where you find the ingredients list. Ingredients are listed in order starting with the highest quantities and working down to the smallest quantity. So watch out. If items such as sugar or syrup are near the top of the list it’s likely to be high in sugar which isn’t good for you.
The traffic light system is often found on the front of the packaging. It’s only a voluntary system at the moment but we are seeing it more and more on packaging and is really helpful to find out how healthy something is at a glance. It gives calories and whether the item is green, amber or red in fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt. The information also tells you the Reference Intake (RI) of the item – what percentage of your daily reference intake the item is.
Try to pick items with more green and less amber and red for a healthier choice.
Watch out for portion size
Portion size is often where most people over eat. Even when you make a healthier choice, over eating will increase the calories, fat and sugar which you eat which can lead to putting on weight.
When you look at manufacturer’s food labels check how many portions they state is in a pack. Often packs will have 2 or 3 portions in it so although the traffic light label might say amber you could be eating far more than you think.
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