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Healthy eating habits and exercise go hand in hand. Together they contribute to a healthy lifestyle. Unhealthy eating choices can lead to many health problems, including obesity and heart disease, and may increase your chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
You need to eat the right amount of the right foods in order to be healthy. Many of us take in more calories than we are using, leading to problems with weight gain and obesity.
The number of calories each person needs depends on many factors, including age, sex, and height, and whether or not you are leading an active lifestyle.
It is estimated that over 50% of the population of the UK is either overweight or obese. Being overweight seriously increases your chances of developing health problems.
Healthy eating and a sensible exercise programme can help you keep your body in good shape and prevent problems in the future.
Some Basic Tips for Eating Well
- Avoid fatty foods, particularly those high in saturated fat. These include chocolate, cheese, butter and fatty meats. By avoiding saturated fats, you can help control the levels of cholesterol in your blood.
Use vegetable oils such as olive oil, and fish or nut oils. These are much better for your health: but again, keep an eye on portion sizes and amounts. Too much of anything can be harmful to you...
- Make starchy carbohydrates the basis of your meals. These include things like pasta, potatoes, bread, rice and noodles. If possible, choose the high fibre or wholegrain versions of these foods. They are better for your health, and often tastier too.
Even good foods can lead to weight gain and health problems if you overeat, so again, remember to watch your portion sizes!
- Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables every day. Choose fresh food when possible, but if you do eat tinned fruits and vegetables, watch out for any added sugar or salt.
- Cut down on sugar.
Check labels on foods to get some idea of how much sugar and how many calories they contain. Sweets, cakes, biscuits and soft drinks can be full of sugar. Taking in too much sugar can damage your teeth and increase your weight.
If you are someone who craves sweet snacks, giving them up can be difficult at first, but it does get easier. Try to replace those sweet nibbles between meals with something healthier, such as fresh fruit. Cut down the amount of sugar you take with drinks or put onto cereals. You will be doing yourself a huge favour...
- Cut down on salt.
Even if you use very little or no salt in your cooking, there can be large amounts of salt added to processed foods. It is worth checking the labels on foods to see how much salt has been added by the manufacturer. It is estimated that most adults should not eat more than one teaspoon of salt a day. Because of the salt added to the processed foods we buy, many of us are way over this limit, which increases our chances of high blood pressure and even heart disease in the future.
- Drink plenty of water.
Water is the best drink for good health, because it rehydrates the body without filling it with unwanted calories. Aim to drink 6-8 glasses a day.
- Eat fish twice a week.
Fish is a great source of nutrients. The best fish to use are oily fish such as salmon or trout. They contain omega 3 and Vitamin D. Have oily fish at least once a week, and another fish meal once a week.
These are just a few basic guidelines on how to improve your diet. For more advice try the links below.
British Nutrition Foundation
British Heart Foundation