Eating well is one of the most important things you can do to stay in good health and maintain a healthy body weight.
A healthy diet is one which provides your body with all the nutrients it needs while balancing your calorie intake with the amount you use.
The Eatwell Guide shows that to have a healthy, balanced diet, people should try to:
- eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day (see 5 A Day)
- base meals on higher fibre starchy foods like potatoes, bread, rice or pasta
- have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks)
- eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other protein
- choose unsaturated oils and spreads, and eat them in small amounts
- drink plenty of fluids (at least 6 to 8 glasses a day)
Unfortunately, the cost of living crisis means it is getting harder for many people to chose healthy options – or even to eat three meals a day. There are some great resources online to help you eat healthily without spending a fortune – including Jack Monroe’s excellent Cooking on a Bootstrap or Thrifty Lesley. The BBC also has some good recipe ideas which are both healthy and low-cost.
Foodbanks exist to help people who struggle to afford to buy enough food to eat.
Nobody should feel ashamed or embarrassed about needing help from a foodbank. If a health or social care professional realises you or your family are skipping meals or going hungry, they will make a referral on your behalf. Otherwise, just ring Citizens Advice who will help you to get help.
Maintaining a healthy weight
Obesity is rising rapidly, not only in Wales but across the world. Quite simply, a lot of people are eating more calories every day than they actually need, sometimes because they cannot afford to choose healthier food options.
If you are obese you are more likely to develop certain long-term conditions like Type II diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Certain types of cancer are also linked to obesity.
Visit NHS 111 Wales to check your BMI (body mass index) and find out if you are a healthy weight.
It’s much easier to avoid becoming overweight in the first place; however, it’s never too late to start eating healthier and watch those pounds disappear.
Some people can do it alone but most of us need a little support to lose weight.
Why not ask your family, or a friend or workmate, to join you on your new healthy eating plan. If you need more structured support, you might prefer to join a slimming club. There are plenty around and most have magazines, books and websites full of ‘before and after’ stories and recipes to inspire you.
If you combine healthy eating with more physical activity – you’ll be burning off more calories too!
Remember to tell your GP if you are planning to go on a diet – he or she will tell you if your current weight is healthy or not by calculating your BMI (body mass index) and check for any health conditions which might be causing your weight gain.