5 top tips for healthy eating
Want to improve your diet? Check out these top tips for healthy eating
Eating healthy is easier than you think.
By making a few simple changes to the way you shop, cook and think about food you can transform your everyday diet.
Check out these top tips for maintaining a healthy, balanced diet.
1) Grill not fry
Fat is not always our friend so why not cook your family meals using a health grill? A simple and versatile way of cooking with some great health benefits.
Why fry? drain up to 42% of fat by opting to grill your meat and enjoy a guilt free, healthy meal that's still packed with flavour.
Keep it interesting: there's plenty of healthy options when it comes to grilling from sumptuous grilled salmon to a classic grilled chicken salad.
Cooking on the go: preparing a healthy meal can sometimes seem time consuming, especially when you're trying to fit a vigorous exercise regime into an already hectic lifestyle. Cooking with a grill means more time for you and less time in the kitchen.
2) Eat less saturated fat
Fat isn't bad for us per-se. It's the saturated variety that's bad news for our health. Too much of it can raise cholesterol levels, which increases the risk of developing heart disease.
Unfortunately it's in lots of the foods we enjoy, so-called 'guilty pleasures' such as cakes, biscuits, cream, butter, cheese, sausages and pies.
Try to cut down on these foods where you can.
Perhaps replace some of these with foods rich in unsaturated fats - the good fats. They can be found in nuts, seeds, avocados and oily fish such as mackerel and salmon, which are high in omega-3.
Top Tip: Use low cal spray oil for frying. If you and the family love chips but want to drasticallycut down on the fat you use to make them, the latest health fryers are able to cook enough chips for up to 6 people using onlu 1 spoon of oil.
3) Reduce your salt intake
Salt isn't just about the stuff we pour from a shaker onto our dinner.
Three-quarters of the salt we eat we can't see - it's already there in pre-packaged foods such as ready meals, as well as bread, cereal, meat, cheese and sauces such as mayo and ketchup.
Adults are supposed to eat no more than 6g of salt per day, and a diet high in salt can raise a person's blood pressure. But there are things you can do to keep tabs on the amount of salt you are consuming.
Most pre-packed foods have a nutrition label on them, so get into the habit of checking them for salt and fat content. If it's colour-coded, red means high, so look for foods with amber and green labels.
Ways to reduce salt when shopping and cooking
- Swap salty snacks: swap salted peanuts for unsalted popcorn or rice cakes, or a piece of fruit
- Choose the right fish: swap smoked fish and shellfish like prawns for white or oily fish such as haddock fillets or salmon
- Savvy shopping: avoid salty foods like ham, olives, bacon and cheese when shopping
Top tip: Steam your veg instead of boiling in salty water using a food steamer
4) Eat more greens
Fruit and vegetables are a really important part of a healthy, balanced diet.
Official guidelines say you should eat five portions per day. That can sound a lot, but it's actually not that hard to achieve.
A portion can be as little as a single piece of fruit.
Here are a few examples of one portion of your five a day (sorry, but potatoes don't count):
• 1 glass of unsweetened fruit juice
• 1 banana
• 1 slice of melon
• 3 tbsps of carrots
• 2 broccoli spears
Top tip: If you've got kids, a sneaky way to get fruit and veg into their diet is by blending them into a juice or smoothie. You'll need a juicer for this.
5) Reduce your portion sizes
Ever wonder whether you've got a little bit too much food on your plate? A study from the British Heart Foundation showed that many supermarket ready meals and bread products had increased in portion size over the past 20 years.
Tips for reducing portion size:
- Use a smaller plate: a full small plate has far less food on than a full large plate
- Be sure how much you need: measure out the right amount of pasta, number of potatoes etc before cooking to remove the temptation of leftovers
- Go big on veg: if you must pile your plate high then do so with vegetables. Spinach, carrots and broccoli are particularly healthy
Top Tip: According to the Food Standards Agency, we should aim to eat the following proportions of food each day:
- 1/3 of fruit and vegetables - aim for at least 5 portions a day
- 1/3 should be based on starchy foods, including bread, rice, potatoes and pasta (choose wholegrain where possible)
- 1/3 should be made up of a mixture of meat, fish, eggs and beans, milk and dairy foods, and only a small amount of foods high fat and/or sugar
6) Prepare meals from scratch
Try to cook more meals using fresh ingredients. Cooking from scratch allows you to control exactly what does and doesn't go into your food.
Make pasta sauces that are low on salt, curries with the leanest turkey, cottage pie with low-fat steak mince and potatoes mashed with semi-skimmed milk or a low fat spread rather than butter and cream.
Top tip: For convenience, make meals from scratch ahead of time in a slow cooker. That way it's ready and waiting to be eaten when you get home from work.
Find out more about healthy eating at the NHS Choices site.