UG6: What to eat and drink

It’s not just about calories.

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Introduction
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Eating a balanced and varied diet is an important part of maintaining good health. Note however that some individuals have an intolerance to certain foods, and thus whilst any guidelines about what to eat are applicable to most of the population, individuals who have or suspect intolerances need to pay careful attention to them: failure to do so can and sometimes is literally deadly.
'Eat plenty of fruit and veg'
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Fruit and veg are low in calories and fat, high in fibre, and contain plenty of vitamins and minerals. However ensure you eat a variety of fruit and veg, not just lots of a very narrow range.
'Eat high fibre foods'
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Eating plenty of high fibre foods has many health benefits. Such foods in addition to fruit and veg includes wholegrain bread, brown rice and pasta, beans, peas, and lentils. Benefits include lowering your chances of type-2 diabetes, lowering your risk of heart disease, healthier gut bacteria, helping to counter constipation, and generally helping lose and keep off weight.
‘Drink plenty of water’
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Drink plenty of water both to keep yourself hydrated, being dehydrated will impact on how you feel and be damaging to your health, but also to help you cut back on snacking. People sometimes confuse thirst for hunger.
‘Be mindful of what you drink’
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There are many drinks which are unhealthy and/or very high in calories, and you might be surprised at how many calories are in many popular drinks. Many coffees and smoothies and milkshakes come in at over 500 calories, and whilst cans of fizzy drinks are far less if you drink a lot of them it adds up.
‘The importance of healthy snacks’
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If you can transition from unhealthy snacks - such as sweets and cakes and crisps and fizzy drinks - to healthy snacks - such as fruit, rice cakes, unsalted and unsweetened popcorn, nuts, and unsweetened fruit juices - it will make a huge difference to your long-term health, and also to your energy levels during the day.
‘Eat some fish if you can’
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If you are able you should look to eat some fish a couple of times a week, including some oily fish at least once a week: such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, pilchards. Canned fish is ok, but ensure it is not high in salt.
‘Get some dairy’
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Dairy is food derived from milk, and includes in addition to milk itself products such as yoghurts and cheese. Getting some dairy is an important part of a balanced diet, albeit in moderation, and also noting that some people need to avoid or limit dairy products.
'Get a range of vitamins’
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Vitamins (and minerals) are nutrients that our body needs in small amounts in order to stay healthy. With a balanced and varied diet you will get all the vitamins you need. Vitamin supplements in moderation won’t do you any harm, but if you find taking them helps overcome certain symptoms such as general fatigue, numb or tingling fingers, frequent irritability or mood swings, sores which take a long time to heal, frequent infections, patches of skin colour changes, then it is worth trying to home in on the particular vitamins you might be deficient in and follow advice for getting the vitamins naturally through your food or drink.
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