Eating a good healthy diet doesn’t mean having to spend lots of money – however, eating healthy and well can ensure better physical health.
To eat well means to be eating a variety of different things in your diet so you get all the nutrients and vitamins to maintain a healthy weight and good health.
If you don’t feel like you are eating healthy now, it’s never too late to start, and healthy doesn’t need to be boring. Eating well also doesn’t mean you have to give up what you enjoy, it just means balance.
Fruit and Vegetables
Everyone is aware that fruit and veg are good for you – but why? Firstly, they are natural and not processed which means they are full of vitamins, minerals and fibre. If you eat at least 5 portions a day, you can lower the risk of serious health problems.
To keep costs down fruit and veg can be frozen or canned as well as fresh.
As a guide, a portion of fruit is the amount you can fit into the palm of your hand – for example, two satsumas, three apricots, an apple or a banana.
Beans, pulses, fish, eggs and proteins
Beans, pulses, fish, eggs and meat all contain protein, minerals and vitamins which are known to help maintain and repair your body after injury or if you’ve had surgery.
You don’t need to eat meat everyday – firstly it is cheaper not to and eggs, beans, lentil or even meat substitutes (which are hugely improved lately!) like Quorn or tofu are full of vital vitamins and minerals too and can be cheaper.
Oily fish are rich in Vitamin D and a good fat that can help reduce the risk of heart disease. If you eat fish twice a week, ensure one of them is an oily fish such as salmon or sardines.
Potatoes, bread, rice, pasta and other starchy carbohydrates
This is the food group that gives not only nutrients but energy too. Wholegrain versions of these are also much better for you, as they have much more fibre and may help keep constipation at bay, so you may want to consider brown rice, wholegrain bread or pasta as an alternative option. These are also a good source of vitamin B and minerals.
Dairy and alternatives
This food group contains the protein needed and a great source of calcium which keeps those bones strong. Trying to choose lower fat versions such as semi-skimmed milk, half fat cheese and low-fat butter would be extra beneficial too.
Oils and spreads
We do need some fats in our diet but only a small portion.
Too much saturated fats can increase the risk of heart disease – so we want to do as much as we can to keep our tickers healthy and functioning, so sticking to unsaturated fats can help reduce the risk. Look out for omega-3 in foods which can also help protect from heart disease.
What foods are high in fat and sugar
Diets that are high in fat, sugar and salt are the types of diets that have been linked to heart disease, some types of cancer, high blood pressure, stroke, obesity and tooth decay.
Many processed foods, ready meals and savoury snacks can be quite high in fat, sugar and salt. These foods should only be eaten in moderation – but can be eaten as part as a balanced diet if you just consider them as a treat.
Salt, if used or eaten too much can increase the risk of high blood pressure and strokes. If you see a lower salt version of the foods you have, you may want to consider those instead.
Food like cakes, cheese and sausages can increase cholesterol levels in the blood and raise the risk of heart disease and stroke – these should be eaten occasionally as a treat.
Supermarkets and manufactures have recently made it easier for the customer to read the food labels – this makes it quicker to make better food choices.
- Red means the product is high in a nutrient and you should try to cut down, eat less often or eat smaller amounts
- Amber means medium. If a food contains mostly amber, you can eat it most of the time.
- Green means low. The more green lights a label displays, the healthier the food is.
We are always encouraging people to drink enough – but how much is enough? Fluid is just as important as any other food group.
You should be aiming for 6-8 glasses of fluid every day – this doesn’t mean it has to be water. Tea, coffee, milk, soup all count as fluids. Alcohol is best avoided – but can be used as a treat sometimes.
Money saving tips
With food prices remaining higher than they were, here are some tips to save money on your food shop:
- Plan your meals and only buy what you need
- Don’t buy ready meals if you can help it – they are more expensive in the long run and can be high in fat, salt and sugar.
- Bulk cook – cook more and freeze what you are not going to eat. Not only does this save money but also means you will have meals to go to on the days you don’t want to cook or are too busy too.
- Look out for the cheaper brands – supermarket own brands can be just as tasty and tend to be cheaper.
- The reduced sections of the supermarkets are a great place to find lower price items and you aren’t going to use them straight away – pop them in the freezer when possible until you do need them.
- Frozen and tinned fruit and veg still count as your 5 a day – but usually come at a lower price.
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