Do you wish your diet was healthier? Not because you necessarily want to lose weight, but because you want to lead a bit more of a healthier lifestyle?
Then you need to adopt a healthy eating mindset. And in order to do that, you need to know how to eat healthy.
By this we mean, swapping that packet of cheese and onion crisps with your lunch-time sandwich for some crunchy carrot sticks and hummus or having one spoon of sugar in your tea rather than two (and if you can cut it out altogether one day, then even better!)
But before you start clearing out your cupboards to make space for some healthier food alternatives, let’s spend a minute thinking about one of the main fundamentals of healthy eating – your calorie intake.
The number of calories we should be taking on board is shaped by so many things; our age, our gender, our lifestyle and our height and weight.How often we exercise and our natural metabolism can also influence how little or much we burn calories, which is essentially the energy that comes from the food and drink we choose to put into our bodies.1
The recommended daily calorie intake for men is:
- 2,000 calories (for not so active men) to 3,000 calories (for more active men).2
The recommended daily calorie intake for women is:
- 1,600 calories (for not so active women) to 2,400 calories (for more active women).3
The recommended daily calorie intake for children is:
- 1,000 to 2,000 calories a day for young children and 1,400 to 3,200 calories for older children and adolescents.4
Recommended healthy food servings
So, now you know how many calories you’re ideally meant to be consuming every day. What does this look like in reality? When it comes to serving up your meals, how much is enough and how much is too much?
There’s guidance on that too, which is aimed at making sure you don’t eat much bad stuff and are getting enough of the good stuff into your body.
Healthy eating plates are made up of:
- ½ fruit and veg – the more colourful your plate, the better! Always aim to eat five a day, which can be fresh, frozen, canned, dried or juice fruit or veg
- ¼ wholegrain food – e.g. quinoa, oats, brown rice
- ¼ protein sources – think fish, chicken, beans and nuts5
You want to steer clear of:
- Hydrogenated cooking oils, such as vegetable or sunflower oil
- Sugary drinks (a little tip for you about sugar: if food has more than 22.5g of total sugars per 100g, it’s high in sugar. If it has 5g of total sugars or less per 100g, it means the food is low in sugar)6
- Milk and dairy products – limit these to one to two portions a day
Useful (and easy to follow) healthy eating tips
Deciding you’re going to eat yourself healthy is the first, and most probably, the easiest step in your healthy eating journey.
The steps that follow, in relation to deciding on and mapping out your healthy eating plan and then sticking to it (even when you’re craving that choccy fix at 3pm or have had a bad day and one more biscuit won’t hurt) takes some doing.
- Skip breakfast – eating a breakfast that’s high in fibre and low in fat, sugar and salt will provide you with some of the nutrients you need for good health
- Get thirsty – this can make you feel hungry and dehydrate your body. Aim to drink six to eight glasses of water a day
- Eat too much saturated fat – AKA fatty meat, butter, cheese, cream, cakes, biscuits and pies. Too much of this type of fat can raise cholesterol blood levels, which can then increase the risk of developing heart disease
- Take on too much salt – as excessive amounts can lead to high blood pressure, which can then be linked to heart disease and strokes. The NHS says adults and children aged 11 and over should eat no more than 6g of salt (about a teaspoonful) a day. Younger children should have less7
The benefits of healthy eatingThe benefits are widespread. Here’s a list of some of them:8
- Weight loss
- Instilling healthy eating habits for your children and the next generation
- Reduced risk of developing conditions such as heart disease
- Prevention against poor heart health
- Better gut health
- As well as many other things…
STOCK UP ON
We’ve already touched on some of the types of food you want to be putting on to your healthy eating plate.
Here’s more of a detailed healthy eating food shopping list:
- High fibre/wholegrain (not white):
- Sweet potatoes
- Oily fish – salmon, trout, pilchards, herring, sardines, mackerel
- Nuts and seeds
- Lentils, and
- Sugar-free snacks
- Lentil crisps
- Fresh berries – blueberries, raspberries, strawberries
- Sweet fruit – melon, kiwi, pineapple
- Snack fruit – bananas, oranges, apples
- Colourful, spicy veggies – peppers, chillies, radishes
- Crunchy veg – carrots, celery,
- Dark green leafy veg – spinach, cabbage, kale, chard
- Salad/sandwich veg – cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes
Last updated: 23 July 2020