For good health, we need more than 40 different nutrients, and no single food can supply them all. It is not about a single meal, it is about a balanced food choice over time that will make a difference!
About half the calories in our diet should come from foods rich in carbohydrates, such as cereals, rice, pasta, potatoes, and bread. It is a good idea to include at least one of these at every meal. Wholegrain foods, like wholegrain bread, pasta, and cereals, will increase our fibre intake.
Fats are important for good health and proper functioning of the body. However, too much of it can negatively affect our weight and cardiovascular health. Different kinds of fats have different health effects, and some of these tips could help us keep the balance right:
Fruits and vegetables are among the most important foods for giving us enough vitamins, minerals and fibre. We should try to eat at least 5 servings a day. For example, a glass of fresh fruit juice at breakfast, perhaps an apple and a piece of watermelon as snacks, and a good portion of different vegetables at each meal.
A high salt intake can result in high blood pressure, and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. There are different ways to reduce salt in the diet:
Sugar provides sweetness and an attractive taste, but sugary foods and drinks are a rich in energy, and are best enjoyed in moderation, as an occasional treat. We could use fruits instead, even to sweeten our foods and drinks.
Eating a variety of food, regularly, and in the right amounts is the best formula for a healthy diet.
Skipping meals, especially breakfast, can lead to out-of-control hunger, often resulting in helpless overeating. Snacking between meals can help control hunger, but snacking should not replace proper meals. For snacks, we could choose yoghurt, a handful of fresh or dried fruits or vegetables (like carrot sticks), unsalted nuts, or perhaps some bread with cheese.
Paying attention to portion size will help us not to consume too much calories, and will allow us to eat all the food we enjoy, without having to eliminate any.
Adults need to drink at least 1.5 litres of fluid a day! Or more if it’s very hot or they are physically active. Water is the best source, of course, and we can use tap or mineral water, sparkling or non-sparkling, plain or flavoured. Fruit juices, tea, soft drinks, milk and other drinks, can all be okay – from time to time.
The right weight for each us depends on factors like our gender, height, age, and genes. Being overweight increases the risks of a wide range of diseases, including diabetes, heart diseases, and cancer.
Excess body fat comes from eating more than we need. The extra calories can come from any caloric nutrient – protein, fat, carbohydrate, or alcohol, but fat is the most concentrated source of energy. Physical activity helps us spend the energy, and makes us feel good. The message is reasonably simple: if we are gaining weight, we need to eat less and be more active!
Physical activity is important for people of all weight ranges and health conditions. It helps us burn off the extra calories, it is good for the heart and circulatory system, it maintains or increases our muscle mass, it helps us focus, and improves overall health well-being. We don’t have to be top athletes to get on the move! 150 minutes per week of moderate physical activity is advised, and it can easily become part of our daily routine. We all could:
Gradual changes in our lifestyle are easier to maintain than major changes introduced all at once. For three days, we could write down the foods and drinks we consume throughout the day, and make a note of the amount of movement we made. It won’t be difficult to spot where we could improve: