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Nutrition tips

When making changes to your diet

  • Making improvements to your diet can mean changing or breaking lifelong habits. Some of them may be difficult but they can be made
  • Changes don’t have to be wholesale. They should be gradual and easy to maintain
  • Set yourself realistic targets so that you are less likely to feel ‘on a diet’ or that you are being deprived of foods you want but can’t have
  • Eating more healthily is not a test, and punishing yourself for having ‘that cake’ serves no useful purpose and will only make you miserable
  • Don’t be tempted to miss meals. Current thinking suggests that you should eat five times a day: two healthy snacks between three main meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner), evenly spaced
  • Particularly, don’t miss breakfast: you’ll feel hungry all morning and be tempted to snack on unhealthy instant sources of energy

When you’re shopping

  • Before you go decide what you’re going to eat, make a list and stick to it
  • Avoid the temptation to pick up foods which ‘look nice’ or are on ‘special offer’ – many of them will be packed full of sugar and fat
  • Don’t shop when you’re hungry
  • For guidance, read the nutritional information on foods – but don’t obsess!
  • Many foods today come in low or lower-fat versions. For example, if you drink full cream or whole milk, switch to semi-skimmed. There are also a wide range of low(er) fat yoghurts, cheeses and salad dressings
  • If you usually eat red meat, try chicken, turkey or fish instead
  • Ready-made meals can be packed with fat. If you’re buying them choose products containing no more than 5g of fat a serving

When you’re cooking

  • If you eat meat, trim off the visible fat and skin
  • Grill food rather frying
  • Avoid fried or sautéed foods
  • Don’t add salt

When you’re eating

  • Eat calmly, taking time to enjoy the food: savour the tastes and textures
  • Chew your food slowly, rather shovelling it in and swallowing it whole
  • Try to make mealtime a ‘no distraction’ time. Eat from the table and not your lap and resist the temptation to turn your meal into a TV dinner
  • A glass of water with meals will aid digestion and make you feel more full
  • If you tend to pile your plate high – eat off a smaller plate. Eat until you are comfortably full – not bursting or bloated
  • Shovelling food can lead to indigestion and heartburn
  • Try to develop regular eating habits as this will help to regulate your appetite
  • Avoid piling on the salt and sugar

And, if you’re eating out

  • Choose plain grilled meat, fish and poultry and avoid gravies and sauces made with cream or butter
  • Avoid the temptation to smother a healthy meal with butter or high-calorie sauces
  • If you feel brave enough, ask if lower fat versions of meals are available
  • By all means have wine with your meal but remember it’s not calorie free!

Food and diet | NHS
Healthy eating | British Heart Foundation
Enjoy Food: Living with Diabetes | Diabetes UK

Food myths busted: dairy, salt and steak may be good for you after all | The Guardian | 26 Sep 2021

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