In search for relevant information on food and its affect on our physical and mental well being, there are endless theories, claims and facts. Some sources include a dietician, pharmacist, health promotion leaflets, magazine articles and internet websites but to name a few.

There are a number of different people out there all claiming a Varity of facts. Have a search and fish around and believe articles on your own past experience, knowledge and common sense.

So what is “Healthy Eating?”

It comes back to a balance, some carbohydrates, some proteins and some fats, yes all three…if you cut any one out you will find it will lead to problems. For example if you cut out ALL the fat in your diet it can lead to feelings of low mood and if this includes dairy products rich in calcium this can affect your bones- Osteoporosis.

EVERYTHING IN MODERATION!

PORTION OF DAILY INTAKE

The Recommended Daily Allowance:

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Daily calorie intake for:

  • MEN approximately 2500 calories
  • WOMEN approximately 2000 calories

Carbohydrates 55% (Fruit, Vegetables, Brown Bread and Rice)

Proteins 15% (Skinless Chicken, Turkey, Fish, Red Meat, Eggs, Pulses and Beans)

Fat under 30% ( Olive Oil, Low Fat Cheese, Skimmed Milk, Fish and Soft Margarine)

Again nothing is set in stone different facts and theories will work for different people. Another theory states Carbohydrates 40%,Protein 30% and Fat 30%.

PROTEIN

Protein is needed for our bodies to grow, to repair our cells and maintain our muscles. Approx. 17% of our bodies are made up of proteins – including hair, nails, skin, muscles and bone.

Protein is found in meats (meat in animal muscle tissues), in eggs (the white is almost pure protein), in milk and therefore cheese, yogurt etc, as well as pulses (peas, beans and nuts) and in smaller quantities vegetables.

Many diets limit or increase the use of protein to loose weight; it should be remembered that a lack of protein would make it necessary for the body to use lean muscle stores for repair etc.

Therefore if you cut out protein your body will break down its own muscles to use the protein from them as a fuel source. This will also cause you to lose water stores and muscle mass in the short term but in the long term could cause an increase in the levels of body fat.

FATS

Fat is the most concentrated form of energy. The main two types of fats are saturated and un-saturated.

Saturated fat is solid at room temperature and mainly of animal origin. These are the bad types of FAT and intake should be limited.

Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature and are mainly from vegetable, fish and nuts.

Despite bad press, we do need some fat in our diet, although certain fats are better than others. Saturated fats are processed in the liver into cholesterol a leading cause along side sugar in heart disease.

Unsaturated fats are believed to help reduce cholesterol. We store our energy reserves in our bodies as fat encase of drought or famine.

Eating to much FAT can also increase your risk of coronary heart disease, lead to obesity and can increase the risk of certain types of cancer.

Saturated fats can increase your risk of a heart attack and should be kept to a minimum or swapped for UNSATURATED FATS where possible.

Unsaturated fats are important for proper brain function and to help protect against heart disease. They are usually found in fish, animal and plant sources.

CARBOHYDRATES (Including Starches)

This is our bodies’ main source of energy, the first to be utilised.

There are two forms of carbohydrates complex and simple. Complex carbohydrates are broken down by the digestive system before they can be converted into energy and result in a slow steady release of energy. Simple carbohydrates are energy sources with a quick energy release “lift” which lasts up to 20 mins, such as sugars and fructose (fruit sugars).

The carbohydrate to avoid is the refined carbohydrates which are in processed foods: refined grains have their fibre content stripped of trace minerals in molasses and the fibre removed for the sugar cane. White flour, white rice, soft drinks and most packaged cakes, biscuits, sweets, pastries and snack foods tend to be high in refined carbohydrates. These foods do not provide the nutrients and fibre the body needs and also tend to be high in saturated fats and sugars. These are BAD for you.

FIBRE

Fibre has loads of benefits. It takes longer to chew therefore giving your stomach time to tell your brain when it’s full. It fills you up quicker and helps prevent against some types of cancers. Fibre is found in GRAINS, PULSES, FRUIT and VEGETABLES and whole meal products such as pasta and bread.

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Fibre is found in complex carbohydrates in two forms – soluble and in- soluble fibre. Soluble fibre gives a feeling of being full while slowing sugar absorption, to keep energy levels stable. Insoluble fibre is found mainly in wheat grain cereal, adds bulk and pushes food through the digestive system, preventing constipation and preventing some types of cancers including bowel cancer.

SUGAR

Eating to much of sugary foods and drinks will usually cause you to put on weight. Sugary foods tend to have high calorie content and are usually found in foods that also have a high fat or saturated fat content. Excess sugar consumption has been linked to depression, impaired immune function, diabetes, tooth decay, heart disease and of course, weight gain (obesity), as the body can almost effortlessly convert sugar to fat. Check labels as its interesting what levels of sugars foods contain.

We get the majority of our carbohydrates from the sugars in this modern age. The average British person eats 2lbs (nearly 1kg) of sugar per week. Simple carbohydrates or Sugars if over eaten are quickly converted to fat.

WATER

The human body is approx 66% water an essential nutrient involved in every body function. 8 glasses a day are recommended and essential for digestion, circulation, absorption, elimination and temperature maintenance through sweating. Drinking plenty of water can even help you to lose weight by burning of calories to utilise it. Some fruit and vegetables are up to 90% water.

Feeling hungry is often an indication of dehydration (lack of water) and not the need for food, as the bodies’ responses are very similar to both. So try a glass of water before reaching for the food.

SALT (Also known as SODIUM)

The micro nutrient sodium is our most popular seasoning. One teaspoon (5-7 grams), is a little over what we should eat daily, although most of us eat double this amount (over 2 teaspoons). Most ready made products are high in salt to assist the preserving process so check the back of the packet to see how much the product contains.

Some manufactures call salt, sodium on their products. These are the same but sometimes fool us into thinking there is actually less in the product.

1g of SODIUM = 2.5g of SALT

Salt/sodium is a big contributing factor to health problems such as high blood pressure and coronary heart disease.

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