Claire Rees spoke to Dr Rhodri Martin about eating for a better you. Follow his plan and see results within the month.
A healthy diet is a balanced diet, says Dr Martin.
To achieve this balance we need to consume a wide variety of foods in the correct proportions.
And variety in our diet will ensure that we meet all our nutritional needs.
Starchy foods should make up around one third of our diet, fruit and vegetables one third, and the final third of our diet should consist of dairy products and sources of protein such as meat, fish, eggs or beans.
Here are Dr Martin’s no-nonsense tips on ensuring your diet is as healthy as you want to be …
1 Consume the appropriate amount of calories to ensure that your consumption does not exceed your energy expenditure, and thereby maintain a healthy bodyweight.
Our calorific requirements vary depending on several factors including age, gender and activity levels. There are, however, recommended guidelines for energy intake; 2,000 calories per day for the average woman and 2,500 calories per day for the average man.
2 Include five pieces of fruit and vegetables a day in your diet. In general one portion is equivalent to a handful of fruit or vegetables. Examples can include a glass of freshly squeezed juice, a banana, or a handful of grapes. Diets based on fruit and vegetables have been shown to reduce the incidence of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
3 Add more fish to your diet. Oily fish is extremely important for the diet as it contains proteins, vitamins, minerals and omega 3 oils which help prevent heart disease. Aim to eat at least two portions of oily fish per week, like fresh tuna, sardines, mackerel, salmon and trout.
4 Fat is needed in our diet but it’s important not to eat too much of it, and to be selective in the type of fat that we eat. Monitor the fat and try to ensure you consume more unsaturated (‘healthy’) fat and less saturated (‘bad’) fat. Saturated fat is found, for example, in cheese, sausages, cream, butter, cakes, and biscuits. Unsaturated fat is found, for example, in vegetable oils and oily fish. An excessive amount of saturated fat in the diet is associated with high cholesterol and an increased risk of heart disease.
5 Cut down the amount of refined sugars in your diet. Refined sugars found in sweets, chocolate, sugary fizzy drinks, alcohol, cakes, and biscuits are often high in calories and these are major culprits in causing the energy imbalance that is present in the population.
6 Eat less salt. Processed foods already have a large amount of salt added. Monitor the amount of salt you consume and aim to eat no more than 6g of salt per day. A diet high in salt can cause high blood pressure, which increases your risk of heart disease or stroke.
7 Ensure you keep hydrated. Recommendations are to drink 1.2 litres of water per day, but if you’re exercising for a prolonged period this requirement is likely to increase. Exercise will increase your fluid requirements, but there is no need to drink excessive amounts of water; a good guide would be to drink enough water to satisfy your thirst.
8 Eat breakfast. It helps to ‘kick start’ your body and has been shown to help people maintain a healthy bodyweight.
9 Rather than snacking on cakes or biscuits – swap them for some dried fruit and nuts. The protein in the nuts will help control your hunger and the dried fruit will help you achieve your five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
10 The key to successfully maintaining a healthy diet is to ensure that it is varied, tasty and enjoyable. As with exercise, if you don’t enjoy it you won’t continue with it for very long!
Menu plan week one: next page
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