Thursday, 8 January 2015

Healthy eating advice for the year ahead

Healthy Food Guide’s experts share their tips for important diet tweaks that could make a difference to your health in 2015

Boost fibre – senior nutrition scientist Bridget Benelam
Fibre will be in the spotlight this year, as recommendations may be increasing from about 24g per day to as much as 30g per day. With average intakes around 18g per day, we're way below the current recommendation, let alone an increased level. Fibre can have a range of health effects - not just keeping you regular! It can help control blood sugar and blood cholesterol (mainly soluble fibre found in oats, barley, rye, pulses, root vegetables and fruit), can help support the healthy bacteria in your gut, may help reduce the risk of bowel cancer and can help with weight control.

To boost your fibre intake, make sure you get your 5-a-day, have wholegrains, or potatoes with skins, at each meal and go for high-fibre snacks, such as unsalted nuts and seeds, rye crispbreads or oat cakes.

Cut sugar - GP Dawn Harper
We all eat too much sugar and most of us don't even know we’re doing it! Start looking at a few labels and you’ll soon find hidden sugar in all sorts of places you would never have guessed.

Ditch beige - recipe consultant Phil Mundy
Cut back on all the pale carb heavy foods, such as pastry, biscuits, white bread and regular pasta, swapping them for wholegrains, sweet potatoes and other brightly coloured foods that will fill your plate for far fewer calories, while adding a lot more vitamins.

Reduce portions – nutritionist Amanda Ursell
If there’s one thing we can do to help reduce our calorie intake and, over time, our weight, it’s to reduce portion sizes. Shaving off 100 calories from breakfast, lunch and dinner, two snacks and one drink each day means we could drop 3,500 calories a week – which equals 1lb of fat. It may not sound much, but this adds up to 4lb a month, over half a stone in two months, almost a stone in three and over a stone in four. In other words, you could lose more than 3 stone a year just by making a little adjustment in portions each time you eat.

Get diagnosed – dietitian Norma McGough, Coeliac UK
If you think you have symptoms (of coeliac disease) that won’t go away, go to your GP and get your condition investigated – don’t try to second- guess what the problem is and treat yourself. For more information, visit

Drink aware – dietitian Juliette Kellow
Drinks can contribute a huge amount of extra calories to our daily intake. A glass of orange juice with breakfast, a medium-sized coffee shop latte in the morning, a smoothie with lunch and a large glass of wine with your evening meal adds up to a massive 570 calories – that's more than a quarter of your daily calorie needs! Swap these for calorie-free options every day and in a year you could lose more than 4 stone!

And drinks can unwittingly push up our sugar intakes – the example above provides 49g sugar or the equivalent of around 12tsp of the white stuff (all sugars – regardless of whether they occur naturally in foods such as fruit or milk, or are added – count towards the maximum 90g a day that's recommended). Part of the problem with drinking calories is that our bodies don't recognise the calories from fluids as well as the calories from food. This means that although a drink can give us a calorie hit, it often doesn't leave us feeling satisfied or fill us up so we still continue to eat the same amount of food. The best drink, without doubt, is water – if you need a sweet hit, try sparkling water with a squeeze of fresh lime or lemon juice.

Choose mindfully - David Stalker, CEO, ukactive
All the time, we hear in the media that we should be cutting out fat, reducing sugar, exercising more, watching our weight. I’d like 2015 to be about simplicity and going back to basics. A little bit of everything is generally fine. Healthy living is about making mindful choices and consciously thinking about what we’re doing when we open the fridge, or avoiding that spin class to go down to the pub.

Ditch dieting - dietitian Helen Bond
The first thing should be to say no to the ‘D’ word! Weight-loss diets, gurus, celebrities and fads come up with anything and everything to help you see the number on the scales drop. But, if a diet is time-limited and has a start and a finish date, it’s bound to fail – that small break from bad eating habits means you’ll soon be back to lifestyle that made you put weight on in the first place. Evidence has shown that people who lose weight gradually are more successful at keeping the weight off long term. So get yourself on track, by making a plan and setting small, realistic and sustainable healthy eating and lifestyle goals!

Conscious eating – dietitian Tracy Kelly, Diabetes UK
My challenge to HFG readers is to develop a healthy relationship with food. Know what you are eating, the effects it has on your body and ask why you’re eating the foods you are. Many people eat when they aren’t truly hungry, ie, when they’re bored, stressed, feeling emotional, or to please other people. Be kind to yourself and enjoy eating, by choosing foods that nourish your body. And don’t ban anything. Instead, make informed choices. Recognise when you’re hungry and stop eating when you’re satisfied. Make yourself your number one priority! For more information about eating a healthy, balanced diet with diabetes go to

Move yourself! - Professor David Haslam, Chair of National Obesity Forum
Partly because I detest slow people who get in the way, for example stepping off an escalator and standing motionless at the top, and people who walk down Oxford Street at a snail's pace while texting their mother. But [I feel this way] mainly because moving one's carcass from A to B without the assistance of carbon-based fuel is a healthier way to go.

What have you resolved to change about your diet or fitness this year? Tell us in the comments below.

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