Avoiding junk food and making room for variety
Healthy eating simply means eating a variety of foods in the right amounts to make sure you get all the energy and nutrition you need. You should also be able to enjoy food without feeling guilty or worrying about weight.
It’s important to eat sensibly, finding a balance so you don’t pig out (two giant tubs of Ben & Jerry’s for dessert) and you don’t get fanatical about food (exactly 15 jelly beans after dinner). If you reckon that healthy eating sounds like hard work, check out this section for cheap recipes, tips on making simple changes to what you eat and sound advice to stop you turning into a fast food slob.
Healthy eating basics
The easiest way to make sure you have a healthy diet is to eat lots of different foods. So, eat a wide variety of foods from the food pyramid and avoid eating the same old stuff every day of the week.
- Stop eating when you are full
- Try to avoid snacking on sugary or fatty foods
- Try to achieve a healthy weight (talk to your doctor about the weight you should be) and exercise every day. Remember, not gaining any weight is also good
- Eat lots of fruit and vegetables every day
- Eat energy providing carbohydrate foods, for example: bread, cereal, potatoes, rice and pasta. Choose wholemeal options when ever possible. It is recommended that we eat six servings/portions from this food group daily. See the food pyramid here for more information.
- Cut down on fat, it’s essential to have a small amount of healthy fat in our diet but we don’t need to be gobbling chips and greasy fries all day.
- Cut down on sugary drinks and snacks. For example, instead of eating a bar of chocolate, have a square, or a glass of coke instead of a bottle of coke
- If possible don’t use salt. Choose from the huge variety of herbs and spices to brighten up your meals, for example chilli, garlic, pepper, mixed herbs, etc.
We all need at least eight glasses (two litres) of water or fluids every day. This can be water or other drinks like juices, herbal teas and so on. Choose pure unsweetened fruit juice instead of sugary cordials or minerals and watch out for coffee and tea with lots of added sugar. Sugary drinks rot your teeth as well as upping your daily calorie intake. If you do sport, you'll need to drink even more than eight glasses during the day. Carry a bottle of water to work or college with you so that you can keep sipping all day.
Avoid junk food- try these alternatives instead:
- ALWAYS eat breakfast so that you don't crave sugary foods mid-morning. If you do skip meals then don't overeat to compensate afterwards
- Eat more fruit and vegetables (at least five portions a day), they'll fill you up and are perfect when you have the urge to snack on something
- Carry a healthy lunch with you to work, university or school. The easiest way to do this is to make sandwiches filled with plenty of salad or cook enough dinner to have leftovers for lunch the next day. Make sure it's enough to keep you away from snacking on buns or crisps during breaks
- Socialise and meet friends in places where there's no food to tempt you. Ask friends not to encourage you to eat when you're out for the night, especially when your will power is weakened after a few drinks.
- Go for a walk instead of watching TV
- If there are certain things you do that always mean eating something junky or sugary (snacking at the TV, your morning coffee and sticky bun, burgers on Friday evening) then change your routine to avoid these triggers.
- Find out more about snack foods here.
Remember – move a little more and eat a little less junk!