Ever heard the phrase 'You are what you eat'? Well, diet information tells us there's a lot of truth in it. What you put into your body affects your physical health, as well as how you feel. Make sure you enjoy what you eat, and this will stand you in good stead for sticking to your healthy eating plan. And that doesn't mean cabbage soup and lettuce rolls! Check out what we mean by healthy eating. In fact, healthy eating just means choosing a balance of foods - a balance that's been shown to reduce your risk of many health problems, and will allow you to enjoy a longer, healthier life.
- Protect yourself by cutting down on fats, especially saturated fats (found mainly in animal products), e.g. full fat dairy products and the white fat on meat. Diets high in fat can lead to hardened, narrowed arteries. When the heart has to work harder to get the blood round the body because of this, you're at risk of high blood pressure, coronary heart disease and stroke.
- Protect yourself by eating more fruit and vegetables. Fruit and vegetables are high in antioxidant vitamins, which help maintain the immune system, so you stay healthy. Fruit and vegetables are comparatively low in calories - you can eat large amounts, without worrying about their effect on your weight. So increasing your intake helps you maintain a healthy weight, too.
- Protect yourself by ensuring your diet is high in fiber - found in the cell walls of fruit, vegetables, and grains, and present in 'wholegrain' versions of bread, pasta and rice. Fiber helps your digestive system work well, and eating foods with it in means you are more likely to avoid constipation and piles. Fiber fills you up - it actually swells in the stomach, and allows you to feel fuller, sooner, so it can help you to avoid overeating.
- Protect yourself by cutting down on salt - eating too much salt (sodium) has been linked to higher than average blood pressure, which may lead to an increased risk of heart disease or stroke. We all need to eat some salt, but most of us are eating too much. Salt is present naturally in foods and is also used as a flavoring and/or preservative. Avoid adding salt to your food at the table, and cut down on salt in cooking wherever possible. Most of our salt intake comes from processed foods, so cooking foods from fresh as much as you can will also help.
Healthier diet advice: fluids
Also make sure you drink plenty of fluids throughout the day as well. Aim for 8-10 glasses of fluids in total each day. Choose from drinks such as water, diluted natural fruit juice, semi-skimmed/skimmed milk, weak tea. If you manage all this - you'll be well on the road to living a healthier lifestyle!
Just remember to add some physical activity into your daily routine, and you'll certainly be feeling the benefits!