Healthy Eating – The Do’s and Don’ts
These days we have access to all different sorts of food, a lot of which can be ‘instant meals’ or microwaveable. Although these options do not require much time or skill, they are not always the most nutritious. A personal favourite of mine is instant noodles. Quick, easy and tasty! However, they have minimal nutritional value in them so I have had to give them up, with the exception of the odd treat. That said, I am writing this in the hopes it will help you differentiate between those quick & tasty meals and healthy, wholesome food. I am by no means a nutritional expert but I think most of us realise that there is no comparison between a packet of noodles and home-made stir-fry. That said, healthy eating is critical whether you’re 5 years old or 100 years old and so this blog aims to give you an idea of what to avoid and what to eat.
First up is many peoples’ worst enemy; fruit & veg. Cauliflower, broccoli, apples and bananas. To some, these are delicious and to others, they are the very definition of disgusting. Regardless of your opinion, you cannot escape the fact that fruit & veg are healthy and are vital to a balanced diet. Dark green, leafy green and orange vegetables are of particular importance as they are a good source of iron and fibre (essential to healthy digestive system). The following are a few examples of vegetables that should be consumed;
- Sweet Potato
With regards fruit, they are all good for you and should be consumed as part of your healthy diet. However, some fruits can be high in sugar (albeit natural sugar) and so if you suffer from the likes of diabetes, fruits should be eaten in moderation to prevent blood sugar levels increasing too much. The following fruits are very beneficial to your diet and will revitalise your digestive system;
- Blueberries (Known as a super fruit, excellent for hydration)
The next part of your diet is carbohydrates. These are the foods that provide your body with energy to get you through the day. These include;
It is essential to feed your body carbohydrates to give it the energy to push through the day, or else your body will begin to target your muscles for nutrition. However, some carbohydrates are better than others. For example, white bread, pasta & rice are ‘simple carbohydrates’ and are broken down quickly. If the energy absorbed from these carbs is not used quickly then it will convert to fat, thus making you gain weight. What you want are ‘complex carbohydrates’ such as wholewheat bread, past & rice. Your body takes longer to break these down and so provide you with continual energy over a long period of time and it is not converted to fat (unless all energy is not used).
Protein is the next part of your diet, which can be tricky if you are a vegetarian or vegan. Protein comes in many forms including but not limited to;
- Red meat
- Nuts & seeds
For the non-vegetarians/vegans, chicken and fish are the healthiest options. Red meat has protein but it must be eaten in moderation as it can lead to high blood pressure, gout and high cholesterol. For vegetarians/vegans, nuts & seeds like almonds have plenty of protein in them and are more than sufficient for a healthy diet.
Lastly, we have fats. No, not the fat you are thinking of like in a deep fat fryer. Avoid a deep fat fryer as best you can as foods cooked in them are full of ‘saturated’ fats which are unhealthy and can lead to heart problems, cholesterol and other issues. The fats you want in your diet are called ‘monounsaturated’ & ‘polyunsaturated’ fats. These come from extra virgin olive oil, oily fish (Salmon & Mackerel), chia seeds and many more foods. These fats perform a range of activities including;
- Lower blood cholesterol
- Improve metabolism
- Stronger bones
- Stronger immune system
In conclusion, this blog is by no means telling you to scrap your current diet and stick to a strict regimented one. We all love a bit of chocolate, a bag of chips or a few drinks. At the end of the day, eat everything in moderation and you will be perfectly healthy. Also, do not think that because you do not have a perfectly toned body that you are not healthy. It is far more important to have a healthy & balanced diet than to have aesthetics. If you are interested in learning more about healthy eating, visit http://www.hse.ie/eng/services/list/4/olderpeople/tipsforhealthyliving/healthyeating.html.