by Clare Harland
To perform our best at school, work and home our bodies need to be properly fuelled.
Being well fuelled helps us function well – it means we’re less irritable, more tolerant, have more energy, concentrate better and are able to enjoy things more. Good nutrition is important for all of us, old or young, our families, friends and colleagues
The press, media, friends, colleagues, people on the bus – everyone has an opinion about diets, healthy eating, intolerances, superfoods, what you should eat and what you shouldn’t. It’s confusing and even if we’ve worked out what we should be eating the practicalities of making it happen usually mean we slip into less than perfect habits.
So we’re going to set the record straight. Here are our five golden rules for good nutrition to help you fuel your body.
1. Drink more water
Yes, it sounds boring but you know it makes sense! No rules – just do whatever it takes to keep drinking and stay hydrated. I try and keep a water bottle with me otherwise the morning can whizz by without a drink.
If plain water is a step too far add a slice of lemon or a splash or juice or squash if that helps you drink more. Buy bottled water if it’s more convenient, I try to use a refillable bottle as it’s lighter on the purse and the planet but that’s not always practical.
2. Eat less meat
It’s expensive, it’s not particularly good for you and there are lots of other protein sources that are tasty, easy to prepare and cheap.
A few tins ready in the cupboard make it easy to throw together a quick meal. Eggs or cheese are great for sandwiches and salads, nuts and seeds can be added to yogurt or porridge for breakfast. At home we probably eat meat 2 or 3 times a week and in quite small portions, filling up with lots of veg & salad.
3. Let treats be treats
A treat is no longer a treat when we have them all the time. Chocolate, crisps, takeaways, cakes and biscuits etc can easily become part of our routine and they are no longer special.
We all need a pick me up, a bit of comfort food or a reward but keep it in perspective. In the office we try and limit cake to birthdays and special occasions (and then only after 10am – is that so unreasonable?). Biscuits creep in from time to time but we also have a fruit bowl to snack from when we need an energy boost.
4. Cook from scratch
If you make it yourself you know what you’re getting. Cooking from scratch need not be complicated. You can make baked potato & tuna with some salad and you easily have a healthy meal (just go easy on the mayo).
With a bit of planning and a few simple recipes preparing food for yourself and your family can be quick and rewarding. Processed and prepared food should only be a back-up for the odd occasion when things go awry.
5. Eat a wide variety of foods
Our bodies need a wide range of macro and micro nutrients to function properly and the simplest way of ensuring we get a bit of everything we need is to eat a variety of different foods.
Try to avoid having the same thing for breakfast or lunch every day if you can. Taking a packed lunch to school, college or work means you can ring the changes. Include lots of fruit, salad and veg, if your meal looks attractive with lots of different colours you’re on the right track.