Keep it simple

On a recent holiday in Malta we stayed in a nice hotel which offered breakfast as a part of the holiday package. We like to eat breakfast at the hotel in the mornings so that we do not reach the hungry/angry stage of the day where we are trying to decide whether to eat before or after taking a walk along the beach or visiting another museum.

Breakfast at the hotel was lavish – there was even a chef to cook our eggs for us! As much as I thought I would enjoy variety at breakfast time, when faced with a multitude of choices I found myself frozen with indecision and felt pressure to ‘enjoy’ or ‘indulge’. Many of my fellow breakfast-eaters seemed to enjoy the bacon, sausages, cold meats, cheeses, pastries, breakfast cereal, various types of bread, bread rolls, spreads and more.

Having to decide from the vast array of food, I felt a little stressed and found myself appreciating the simple choices that I make at home. In the end I chose food that was familiar and relatively healthy – juice, banana, yoghurt, eggs or baked beans.

I acknowledge that an abundance of breakfast choices is a first-world problem but the situation illustrated to me the value that can be found in keeping things simple and realising that I am not ‘missing out’ by doing so.

Enjoy Good Food for Good Health

©SD Wheelock


What will my Nutritionist advise?

If you have decided that it is time to ‘get healthy’ and you are considering making changes to your diet, you might wonder if asking a Nutritionist for advice would be useful.

A responsible Nutritionist who is concerned about your long-term health should provide advice like this:

Food First

  • All of your nutrient needs should be met primarily through consuming food
  • All food and beverage choices matter – consider the totality of what you eat and drink and the dietary components that might promote or hinder health
  • Look at the big picture – dietary components (such as protein, fibre, or fat) fit into a broad healthy eating pattern and all of these must be considered
  • Consider nutrient-dense choices – healthy eating means choosing a variety of foods that contain vitamins and minerals, protein, fibre and other healthful nutrients or components at an appropriate calorie level

Nutrient-dense foods include fruits and vegetables, wholegrains, eggs, beans and peas, nuts and seeds, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, lean meats and poultry and seafood. To be healthy, overall food choices should also contain minimal amounts of saturated fat, sodium/salt and added sugar.

To maximise variety and value, be sure to include all forms of foods, including fresh, canned, dried and frozen foods, all of which can be included into healthy eating patterns.

With an overall reliance on food, healthy eating patterns can easily be adapted and tailored to accommodate personal, cultural and traditional preferences, as well a food budget.

One size does not fit all 

Eating patterns and nutrient needs will vary according to age, height, weight, gender, and activity level. Healthy eating considerations should account for calorie needs as many groups, especially children, have vastly different calorie (and nutrient) requirements.

For most people a achieving healthy eating patterns will require changes in food choices. Small steps that encourage change over time will help with a move towards healthier eating patterns.

Physical activity can contribute to overall body weight management and assists with other aspects of a healthy lifestyle, such as sleep patterns and reduced risk of chronic disease (such as heart disease).

Look for ways to make your healthy choices a bit easier by identifying and connecting with local support, such as healthy lifestyle messages from your school, workplace and communities.

Do not consider that there is a quick fix when thinking about becoming healthier. So far, my own journey towards a healthier lifestyle has taken 10 years. I am nearly 50 years old.  I now weigh 30 kilograms less than I did when I was 40 years old. My recent blood tests and blood pressure readings indicate that I am healthy (not at risk of diabetes, heart disease, or stroke). However, I continue to be careful with my food and drink intake, maximising nutrients and minimising calories for continued health as I head towards the ‘third-age’.

A responsible nutritionist will advise you about food and activity and help you to find a path to healthy eating and a healthier  lifestyle that works for you and can be sustained in the longer term, without too much fuss or expense.

Find a registered nutritionist or dietitian

Enjoy Good Food for Good Health

Eat Well – Don’t ‘diet’

In Britain many of the population are already overweight or obese and many more are likely to become overweight in the years to come. Our current lifestyles make it easy for us to develop poor health or gain weight, with so much food available to us and little need for physical activity in our day-to-day lives.

We can improve our health if we eat well and undertake some activity on a regular basis. Eating well is not about starting another ‘diet’ and is not just about losing weight. Eating well is not something that you start and then finish in a few weeks. Eating well is about making choices that can be maintained throughout your lifetime.

When we choose to eat well it may be for one of many reasons:

  • to limit further weight gain
  • achieve modest weight loss
  • get into a regular eating pattern, which might make it easier to resist tempting, high calorie foods
  • balance the variety of food that you eat
  • reduce your tendency to overeat

When choosing to eat well, part of the challenge is to overcome the barriers that may make eating well more difficult. For example, you might find it difficult to eat differently to your friends or you might think that healthier choices are more expensive. Look for advice on overcoming your barriers to eating well.

Weight concerns

Generally, overweight results from eating more than we need on a regular basis.

We eat more than we need when we underestimate the amount of calories in our food and overestimate the calories burned during the activity that we do. While factors like genetics, glands, metabolism, and ageing may contribute to weight gain for a small number of people, these factors can still be overcome with careful eating and regular activity. Overweight and obese people are at a greater risk of developing chronic diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), heart disease and more, so eating well can be an important step to long-term health.

Check reliable websites like NHS Choices to determine if you might be overweight – checking your waist measurement or Body Mass Index (BMI) will give you a rough indication in most cases. If weight loss is your aim then it is generally recommended that you aim for 1-2 pounds (0.5-1 kg) a week weight loss with an overall target to lose 5-10% of your current body weight.

Take some time to learn how to Eat Well

Over many years you may have developed habits that have lead you to a point where you are now unhealthy or overweight. Learning new, healthy habits will take time. Make just one change at a time, in order to establish a new habit. For example, choose wholemeal bread instead of white bread and establish that as a permanent change before making another change to your eating habits. There is no need to put a time limit on developing changes that will last a lifetime – the important thing is to keep making changes to your habits with the goal of improving your health in the long term.

Eating well for better health will involve:

  • sticking to a regular eating pattern
  • getting a healthier balance/variety of foods
  • reducing the quantity of food that you eat

Your health may also benefit from:

  • reducing the amount of time you spend sitting down
  • increasing your everyday activity – eg: walking to school or work
  • doing more organised activity – eg: team sports or activity classes

To make changes to your lifestyle, you need to have knowledge, skills and the motivation to change. Look for reliable websites that provide healthy eating advice. Think about the skills you might need to develop to assist with your goals – for example, learning how to avoid ‘comfort eating’.

Consider how motivated you are to change. Is it important to you that changes are made? What happens to your health if you don’t make changes? How confident are you that the changes will be successful?

Goal setting

Consider setting goals that are very specific, rather than a general goal. ‘I want to be healthier’ or ‘I want to lose weight’ are not useful goals because they are too vague.

Think in terms of behaviour change goals rather than a target weight. You can no more guarantee yourself a certain weight than you can a certain blood pressure or cholesterol reading.

Behaviour change goals might look like this:

  • Week 1 – use wholemeal bread instead of white bread
  • Week 2 – use semi-skimmed milk instead of full-fat milk
  • Week 3 – take a walk at least 3 days a week
  • Week 4 – stop putting butter on vegetables
  • Week 5 – stop adding sugar to fruit
  • Week 6 – have one meat-free day every week – Meat-free Monday is easy to remember
  • Continue…and tweak…there are always more changes you could make…

Eating well can be simple and inexpensive. Choose simple, nutrient-rich, everyday foods for better health. Over time you will have established healthier habits that enable you to eat well without really thinking about it.

Choose Good Food for Good Health