After all the excess of Christmas, the new year can be a good time to take stock of your lifestyle. Instead of cutting things out, why not think about what you can do more of to improve your health and wellbeing.
Eat more fruit and vegetables: Mother Nature is great at packaging the ultimate snack food and meal accompaniment in fruit and veg. They are low in fat, high in fibre, and packed full of antioxidants that can mop up some of the damage we inflict on our bodies. So this new year, why not consider how to have more? Chop some fruit onto your cereal, swap a biscuit for an apple, or cook some extra vegetables for your main meal. Meals and snacks will be more filling, it will keep you regular, and your heart will thank you!
Eat more oily fish: These contain omega 3 fats which are great clot-busting agents, which is why eating them is linked to a lower risk of heart disease and stroke. They also have an anti-inflammatory effect so are great for arthritis, and they help in brain development. Try a twice weekly choice of salmon, trout, herring, or mackerel.
Pump up your proteins: Research has shown that including proteins at breakfast fills you up more so you eat less during the day. This doesn’t mean you need to resort to a big fry that is high in fat; how about including an egg at breakfast a few times a week?
Eat more wholegrain: Wholegrain foods are less refined than wholemeal or white varieties of flour, bread, etc. That means they contain more fibre and prevent constipation, but in the longer term have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and some cancers especially colon cancer. Swap your bread for one with ‘bits’ every time!
Cook from scratch: By doing this you will have more control over what you are eating. About 80 per cent of the salt we eat comes from processed foods like ready meals so swapping these for a meal you have cooked can dramatically reduce the amount of salt you are eating.
By Cara Cunningham, MINDI, community dietitian. For more information on diet and nutrition, please contact the Community Nutrition and Dietetic Service, HSE Dublin-Mid Leinster on (044 ) 9395518 or email [email protected].