Focus on fibre and whole foods
Adults need around 30g of fibre a day, although the average daily intake is 19g. Definitely, something a lot of us can work on.
Fibre comes from all plants and is a non-digestible carbohydrate, although very important. Fruit, veg, grains, beans and any other plant you can think of will contribute to your fibre intake.
Why do you need fibre? Fibre is so vital because it keeps your digestive system running smoothly. It provides bulk for your intestines to work with and helps prevent constipation. There’s also evidence to show that eating enough fibre can help prevent bowel cancer, heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
So what can you do to ensure you’re hitting your 30g a day?
- Pick wholegrain foods where possible e.g. brown bread, porridge instead of cereal
- The less processed something is, the more fiber it should have
- Try veggies and fruits as snacks
- Incorporate beans or lentils into your meals
- Add nuts to your snacks
Get at least 5 a day
It’s important to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, not just for fibre but to get all the essential vitamins and minerals your body requires on a daily basis. Your fruit and veg intake should make up a third of your diet, so aim for that at every meal.
80g of fresh, frozen or canned, 30g of dried or 150ml juice or smoothies all count. The other thing to keep in mind is that only one portion of each fruit or veg counts towards the 5 a day, so don’t go eating hundreds of grams of peas for no reason!
How to increase your fruit and veg intake:
- Top breakfasts with fruit
- Sneak veg into main meals e.g. finely dice a variety of veg into your spag bol
- Roast your veg and use lots of herbs and spices!
- Blend veg into a dip e.g. red pepper and garlic hummus
- Fruit is the original grab-and-go snack
Vary your protein
On the topic of variety, Wednesday is all about that. Use this day to try out some protein sources you don’t normally go for.
For the planet and our health, it’s important to consume a variety of protein sources, especially those from plants. The NHS recommends you should be eating no more than 70g red (cooked weight) and processed meat a day, so why not try some of these other options to vary your protein:
- Swap half your mince for beans or lentils
- Grab a handful of roasted nuts to add to your snack
- Try making your own hummus, from a different bean to the usual e.g. white beans
- Make sure you have some protein with your snacks to keep you satiated
- Try an oily fish
How much water should you drink every day? The UK Eat Well Guide recommends you drink about 1.2-1.5 litres of water a day, plus extra for any exercise you do or water lost through sweat. This liquid should also be consumed at regular intervals throughout the day rather than in large quantities.
Keeping hydrated can help stabilise your mood, keep you focused, prevent headaches, keep your digestion smooth and of course maintain every single cell in your body.
Try some of these tips to keep your water intake topped up:
- Find your favourite type of reusable water bottle and carry it around with you
- Infuse things like lemon, mint or berries into your water to make things more interesting and refreshing on a hot day
- Create a hydration station at work with mix-ins and cups
- Try herbal tea for a warm hydration option
Treat yourself (in moderation)
Healthy eating doesn’t mean a life without indulgence. It’s perfectly okay to treat yourself from time to time. In fact, it’s essential for maintaining your sanity! Enjoy that slice of cake at a birthday party or savour a scoop of your favourite ice cream on a sunny day. Some people find that reducing treats to just special occasions or once a week helps them stay on track and reduces cravings.
- Including treats helps maintain mental balance
- Enjoy special occasions without extreme restrictions
- Keep things like drinking to a minimum as this has longer-lasting impacts
Fail to plan, plan to fail, right? Taking a few minutes each week to plan your meals can save you from the dreaded “What’s for dinner?” dilemma. Make a grocery list, prep ingredients in advance, and batch cook if possible. Having healthy options readily available makes it easier to resist the siren call of fast food or that tempting office vending machine.
- Utilise the freezer to save meals for another time when possible
- Plan for healthier snacking! We all get a little hungry from time to time
- Don’t beat yourself up if your plans fall through, a balanced lifestyle isn’t an ‘all or nothing’ approach