Change4Life | 4 healthy eating strategies.

Change4Life is a public health programme produced by the Department of Health in 2009, and is widely supported by food businesses and NGOs. It aims to encourage people to lead healthier lives. Click on the tabbed headings to view excerpts from its healthy eating strategies.

 

Watch the salt you don’t see in your food. Many of us enjoy a bit of salt on our food. And you might think you don’t eat much salt, especially if you don’t add it to your food. But don’t be so sure.

What we don’t realise is that salt is hidden in everyday foods that don’t even taste that salty! Things like bread, breakfast cereal, ready meals, sauces, baked beans and pizza. In fact, three quarters of the salt that we eat is found in the foods we buy. It means that most of us are eating much more salt that than we realise, and that’s before we add any salt while cooking or at the table. The bad news is that too much salt can raise your blood pressure, which means we are more at risk of getting heart disease or having a stroke.

There are two kinds of fat in the foods we eat – saturated and unsaturated fat. We need a bit of fat in our diets to help our bodies absorb vitamins and stay healthy. But we shouldn’t have too much saturated fat as it causes fat to build up in the body and can lead to serious problems like heart attack or stroke. Eating too much fat can also make us more likely to put on weight as fat is high in calories.

Here are some simple “Easy fat swaps” that can help you cut back on fat right away: 

Milk: use 1% fat milk on your cereal. It has about half the saturated fat of semi-skimmed. Eggs: prepare eggs without oil or butter. Poach, boil or dry-fry your eggs. Toast: have sliced banana on whole grain toast instead of white toast and butter. Cheese can be high in saturated fat – check the label and choose cheese that’s lower saturated fat. Grating it, rather than slicing it, will make it go further. If you choose a strong-tasting cheese, such as mature cheddar, you can use less of it because the flavour will go further. Pasta: try a tomato sauce on your pasta. It’s lower in saturated fat than a creamy, or cheesy or meat sauce.

Daily tips to cut down on sugar. Sugary foods are a source of energy but few other nutrients. If we eat more energy (measured in calories) than we need, our bodies store this as fat. This is bad for us because it increases our risk of serious health conditions like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke.

Try these easy swap ideas to reduce the amount of sugar you eat throughout the day.

Healthier swaps at breakfast: Switch to lower sugar cereals or other breakfast options like fruit or toast (but if you spread on things like jam, marmalade or honey, make sure it’s a thin layer.) How about porridge, made with lower fat milk and grated apple? If you add dried fruit to your cereal, make it just a small handful, as this can also be high in sugar.

Healthier swaps for puddings: At home, don’t go back for seconds on pudding. If you like to have a pudding when you’re eating out, you could always try sharing one. One pudding, two spoons!

Fruit and veg are a source of vitamins, minerals and fibre which may help reduce the risk of diseases like heart disease and some cancers. We all know that it’s important for us to eat a variety of at least five portions of fruit and veg each day, but how many of us actually manage it? Luckily, it can be easier than you think to get your 5 A DAY. The great thing is that you don’t need to make a big change to your diet or do without the foods you love.

It doesn’t have to be expensive. You can keep the costs down by buying canned fruit and veg, which doesn’t go off as quickly. Choose canned fruit in its own juice – it’s healthier than fruit in sugary syrup. Or try canned veg in water with no added salt or sugar.

Frozen is even handier, as you can use what you need and put it back in the freezer! And buying fresh fruit and veg when it’s in season is usually cheaper too. Local markets can be great places to pick up fresh and tasty produce at really good prices.

Go local. Local markets can be great places to pick up fresh and tasty produce in season at really good prices.

Shop smart – money-saving tips for eating healthily. There are plenty of things you can do to eat more healthily, and the good news is, making healthier meals needn’t cost a lot of money. You can still enjoy your favourite meals but it’s better to make them with your own ingredients – and cheaper too.

Make a shopping list. Think about the meals you want to cook over the week and make a shopping list based on the ingredients for each meal – that way you’re more likely to stick to it in the supermarket and avoid filling your trolley with things you don’t need.

Save money. The secret is to plan, plan, plan! Thinking about meals in advance means you can make ingredients go further during the week. It also helps you remember to use any coupons you’ve seen advertised or been sent.

Healthier swaps. When you’re in the supermarket, look at the labels and try to swap to healthier versions which are lower in salt, fat and sugar. Read more about food labels

Reference: Change4Life, 2013