Be Food Smart

Quick Tips

Food is essential to our everyday lives - but it's your food choices that can have an impact on your own health. Check out our quick tips for ideas on how you can improve your diet!

1. Eat more Fruit and Vegetables

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We all know we should be eating more fruit and veg, but most of us still aren’t eating enough. Fruit and veg should make up just over a third of the food we eat each day. This can be fresh, frozen, canned, dried or juiced.  It’s easier than it sounds - why not add berries to your breakfast cereal, swap your usual mid-morning snack for vegetable sticks with dip, or even bulk up stews, soups and sauces with frozen veg? Remember to choose a variety of fruit and vegetables over the day so that you can benefit from all the different nutrients they provide. Smoothies, unsweetened 100% fruit juice and vegetable juice only count as one portion of your 5-a-day. Click here for tips on getting your 5-a-day.

Looking for advice on fruit and veg portion size? Why not download our handy portion guide.

2. Base meals on starchy carbohydrates

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Starchy carbohydrates are your body’s main source of energy and should make up just over one-third of the food you eat each day. As well as bread, rice, potatoes and pasta, this food group includes chapattis, naan, yam, plantain and couscous. When selecting starchy carbohydrates, try to include higher-fibre, wholegrain varieties. Wholegrain food contains more fibre and is easier to digest, this will keep you fuller for longer and less likely to snack in between meals. Look out for the fat you add to starchy carbohydrates when cooking with them, as that is what increases the calorie content. 

3. Drink plenty

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Water helps your body to function properly. Ideally, you should be drinking at least 6-8 glasses per day - more if you take part in exercise or if the weather is warmer. To give it a kick, try some sparkling water with a slice of lemon or lime.

4. Keep an eye out for sugars and fats

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Fats and sugars are still an essential part of our diets - however regularly eating too much of these can cause problems for our health. Too much saturated fat can increase cholesterol levels in the blood leading to high blood pressure and potentially developing heart disease. Too much sugar carries the increased risk of obesity and tooth decay. Check your food labels for foods high in saturated fat and sugar and try to opt for a healthier alternative or cut down on how much you're consuming. 

Learn more about how to reduce the amount of sugar in your diet by joining our SUGAR SMART campaign.

5. Don't skip breakfast

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Tired of hearing that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? Think of it this way – you wouldn’t start a car on an empty tank! Breakfast sets you up for the rest of the day, so make time to eat before heading out the door. Wholegrain cereal with fruit topping is an ideal way to start the day. Check out these breakfast recipe ideas.

6. Don't eat too much salt

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Eating too much salt can raise your blood pressure, making you more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke. Adults and children over the age of 11 should eat no more than 6g of salt a day, which is about a teaspoon. About three-quarters of the salt we eat is already in the food we buy, such as biscuits, cereals, soups, breads and sauces. So we may be eating more salt than we think. Low salt meals however do not need to be bland; there are lots of ways to add flavour without having to compromise on healthy eating. Try using herbs, spices and citrus to bring more flavor to food. It is also important to check food labels to see how much salt there is in food you’re buying.

7. Do plenty of exercise

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Croydon is known as one of the greenest borough's in London, so what’s to stop you taking advantage of one of its many parks? You may be used to dashing around the tram stations but why not take an extra stroll on your lunch break or when you have a spare 10 minutes? Exercise goes hand in hand with your diet, in order to help you to maintain a healthy weight.

8. Eat More Fish

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Fish is a great source of lean protein and oily fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids, a type of fat that is good for your cardiovascular system and brain health.
We should aim to eat at least two portions of fish a week, including at least one portion of oily fish. Examples of oily fish include: salmon, mackerel, trout, and herring. You can choose from fresh, frozen and canned fish: but remember that canned and smoked fish can be higher in salt. If you are vegetarian or vegan, be sure to have walnuts, chia seeds or hemp seeds for your omega-3 fatty acid intake.