Find Your Healthier You
This week is the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) Healthy Eating Week, taking all of the UK on its ‘Find your healthier you’ journey!
We want everyone to reflect on their dietary choices and look to make improvements to enhance their health and wellbeing.
The ‘Find your healthier you’ message will be supported by five themes across the week:
- Know the facts – information, advice and myth busting
- Make a healthier choice – tips and tools to make better choices
- Plan for success – ways to plan healthier meals and menus
- Be the chef – how to cook healthier options, with links to recipes and ideas
- Keep moving – promoting the importance of being active for health
This blog post will be focusing on the second theme: Make a Healthier choice.
We want to encourage everyone to make healthier choices and here are some top tips from the experts.
Read the Label
Supermarket shelves are packed full of foods and drinks making claims that sound healthy. Hannah Elliott from the British Heart Foundation explains how to compare food labels so you can make healthier choices.
Read the ingredients list:
Most foods will display the ingredients list on the label at the back of the pack. Everything that goes into your food will be listed from the greatest proportion to the lowest. So if the ingredients at the top of the list contain saturated fat – like cheese, butter or cream – or sugars, syrups or concentrated fruit juice, then you’ll need to take this into consideration as they’ll make up the largest proportion of the food.
Ingredients that appear at the lower end of the list will be in the smallest quantities but that doesn’t mean their impact is insignificant. For example, fortified breakfast cereal have small trace amounts of added vitamins and minerals which can make a significant contribution to our daily nutrient intake, whereas even small amounts of salt can make a significant contribution to our maximum daily intake of 6g.
Check out the nutrition information
Concentrate on the “per 100g” column on the nutrition information table (instead of per portion). This is the most accurate way to compare products nutritionally, otherwise it can be hard to tell whether the differences you see are due to a different portion size rather than the actual content of the food or drink.
Pay particular attention to the following columns: total fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt – these affect your weight and blood pressure the most. But you can also compare other nutrients to make healthier choices, including the proportion of healthier unsaturated fats, protein and fibre.
Find out more about food labelling.
Reduced-fat versions of foods aren’t always the healthiest choice
When we embark on a healthier eating journey, the first thing people often reach for is the low-fat alternatives.
Surprisingly, reduced-fat versions of foods aren’t always the healthiest alternative.
They can often be loaded with sugar and other unhealthy ingredients. Instead, directly compare the nutritional information of sugar and fat content on both the original and the reduced-fat version.
It’s worth checking salt too, as low fat or low sugar versions often have a higher salt content to compensate. If the “lower fat” version is not much lower in calories, it might be better for you to simply have a smaller amount of the full fat version.
Use the Traffic Light System
Use the traffic light system to help choose between products and go for mainly greens and ambers.
Size Matters: Portion Sizes
According to recent research led by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), portion sizes have jumped considerably over the last 20 years. The BHF study “Portion Distortion: How Much Are We Really Eating?” compared portion sizes for own-brand food in our leading supermarkets to 1993 portion sizes and the results show significantly increases.
As these changes have happened gradually, many have gone unnoticed.
Knowing that portion sizes have resulted in increased obesity across the national, it’s even more important to choose the right portion size for you. Some individuals will have different needs from others but for healthy adults the range of different foods we need is pretty much the same for all of us. However, the amount of food we actually need can vary from person to person. For example, a tall, active person may need to consume more.
There are lots of different ways to eat a healthy diet and you can use this guidance from the British Nutrition Foundation to fit in with your preferences. It’s about balancing the food groups and finding the portion sizes that are right for you.
Make Smart Food Swaps
Making smart swaps is easier than you might think. By changing just a few eating habits you can make a big difference to your diet. Here are some suggestions from the NHS to get you started:
Swap whole milk for semi-skimmed, 1% fat or even skimmed milk
Swap a sugar-coated breakfast cereal for a wholegrain breakfast cereal such as porridge or shredded wholegrain wheat cereal with no added sugar – read about how to choose a healthy breakfast cereal
Swap a sprinkle of sugar on your breakfast cereal for a topping of fresh or dried fruit, which counts towards one of your 5 A DAY
Swap full-fat greek yoghurt for lower-fat or fat-free greek yoghurt, or natural low-fat yoghurt
Opt for wholegrain varieties of foods
Swap butter and cheese in your baked potato for reduced-fat spread and reduced salt and sugar baked beans
Swap a tuna melt panini for a tuna salad sandwich on wholemeal bread without mayo
Swap cheddar cheese filling in your sandwich for reduced-fat hard cheese.
Swap creamy or cheesy sauces for tomato or vegetable based sauces on your pasta, meat or fish dishes
Swap mashed potato made with butter and whole milk for mash with low-fat spread and a lower-fat milk, such as semi-skimmed, 1% fat or skimmed
Choose leaner cuts of meat – for example, swap streaky bacon for back bacon
Swap the frying pan for the grill when cooking meat
Swap a coffee made with whole milk to a “skinny” coffee made with semi-skimmed or skimmed milk
Swap a cordial for a cordial with no added sugar
Swap a few of your sugary drinks for a glass of water
Swap a cola or fizzy drink with some 100% fruit juice (with no added sugar) mixed with soda water
Swap hot chocolate made with whole milk and served with whipped cream for a hot chocolate made with skimmed milk and no cream
Swap a blueberry muffin for a currant bun on its own or with some reduced-fat spread
Swap yoghurt-coated raisins for plain raisins
Swap salted nuts for unsalted nuts
Swap cheese straws for rice cakes with low-fat cream cheese
Find out more from the Eatwell Guide about which foods you should be eating – and in what amounts – to achieve a balanced diet.
For further information on weight management services in Plymouth click HERE.