Eating healthily doesn't have to mean waving goodbye to the things you love. Life should be all about what you can have, not what you can't. Eating healthily just means enjoying the food you love as part of a nutritious, balanced diet.
With the chaotic hustle and bustle of our daily lives, it isn’t always easy to make healthy choices and let’s face it, sometimes things like healthy eating and exercise can get dropped to the bottom of the priorities list.
So, based on the government’s advice for healthy eating, we’ve pulled together a list of tips to make it easier to eat a healthier balanced diet every day.
1. Start Your Day Right
You know the phrase “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper”? Well, they certainly got one thing right. Breakfast is an important part of healthy living. It can provide fibre, energy, vitamins and minerals, all of which are important for your health. A good breakfast can kick start your metabolism, and help you get the day started with a burst of energy. For a healthy start to the day, opt for whole grain cereals, porridge or whole meal varieties of bread or Crispbread (Insider tip: we love Crispbread topped with yummy yogurt and mixed berries).
2. Make Starchy Carbs the Star of Your Meals
Starchy carbs like bread, potatoes, pasta, rice and noodles are often made out to be the bad guys when talking about healthy eating - but they actually contain fewer than half the calories of fats per gram and can be an important source of fibre, vitamins and minerals.
3. Watch out for Saturated Fat and Sugar
Despite what you might have heard, fat can be good for you. A little bit of fat in our diets is important to provide our bodies with essential fatty acids, and aid the absorption of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. But, as we all know too well, too much fat can lead to weight gain, so just don’t overdo it!
To help maintain healthy blood cholesterol levels, try to replace foods high in saturated fats like hard cheese, pies, pastries and lard with food sources containing unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats are found in things like vegetable oils, oily fish, avocados, nuts and seeds.
We all need a little sweet treat every now and then, but we should limit the amount of added sugars in our diets. Added sugar is the stuff you’ll find in cakes, biscuits and some fizzy drinks rather than the sugars that are naturally present in fruit and milk. Check out our suggestions to satisfy your sweet tooth.
4. Drink Up!
Staying properly hydrated is a really important part of staying healthy – aim to drink around eight to ten glasses of fluid per day. Don’t worry if you think that sounds like a lot of water as most other drinks count too – just be careful as some drinks will be adding energy (calories) and sugar to your diet.
Unfortunately, alcohol does not count. Alcohol actually contributes to dehydration so when you’re having a tipple (or two!) drink extra water to make sure you stay hydrated.
5. Get Your 5 a Day
Having trouble getting your five a day? Well, it may please you to know that fruits and vegetables that have been frozen, canned, or freshly pickled all count, as do 100% juices!
Don’t forget to try and eat as many different fruit and vegetables as you can - not only will it make meals more exciting, but it’s also great for your health as they contain different combinations of minerals and vitamins.
6. Eat Plenty of Fish
Whether you like to top your Ryvita with fish fingers, smoked salmon or tuna mayo, trying to get at least two portions of fish into your diet per week is always a great idea. One of these should ideally be an oily fish, like salmon, fresh tuna, sardines, mackerel or trout. Why you ask? Well, oily fish are one of the best natural food sources of vitamin D, which is really important for bone health - fancy that!
7. Eat Less Salt
Salt can make your food taste better, but it can increase the risk of developing high blood pressure, a major contributor to strokes and heart disease. Adults should eat no more than 6g of salt a day and children should have even less. Most of our salt intake comes from processed foods, rather than your salt shaker, so it’s wise to always check your food labels for salt content.
If you’re used to reaching for the salt at dinner time it can be a tricky habit to break, but try using herbs or spices for extra flavour instead. By replacing salt with other flavors such as vinegar or citrus juices like lemon or lime you can flavour foods more healthily.
8. Get Active
Get your blood pumping and improve your overall physical health by making small changes and getting active. Activities like cycling or walking briskly can contribute to a healthier you – the government recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity, or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity for adults each week.
Vigorous activity includes swimming or running, while muscle strengthening can include weight lifting or exercises. Including some muscle strength training at least two days a week is also important for your overall health.
For more healthy eating information, check out the British Nutrition Foundation.