25 Jan 2019
Employee Assistance Programme focus: Eating healthier and having a balanced diet
Currently, Britain is the most obese nation in Western Europe with 63% of UK adults being classified as overweight, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
If you have set yourself goals this year to live a healthier lifestyle, your diet is a key starting point.
Making your diet balanced – alongside regular exercise – will reduce your chances of developing chronic illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension.
But where do you start?
The Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) is an initiative that is part of the University’s commitment to provide support for staff wellbeing.
By logging on the EAP website (using the code ‘lborowell’) you can take a personal online health assessment. The website also provides a range of videos and materials which will help you to make a positive change.
January’s EAP focus has highlighted below some examples of key foods to incorporate into our diet and the benefits they can bring.
No single food contains all the essential nutrients our bodies need, which is why it’s important our diets contain a variety of different foods.
Fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables can protect against illnesses such as cancer and coronary heart disease, and we should be consuming at least five portions a day. Generally, they are also low in calories and fat if you are aiming to lose weight.
Starchy complex carbohydrates
Rice, pasta, cereal and potatoes are great examples to form the base of a meal. They provide a good source of energy and a wide range of nutrients. Wholegrain varieties in particular have been proven to lower cholesterol and aid the digestive system.
While excess fat in the diet can lead to putting on weight and increasing cardiovascular problems, it is still something we need to consume to achieve a healthy diet.
Men should have no more than 95 grams and women should aim for 70 grams as their daily intake.
Saturated fat, otherwise known as the ‘bad fat’, can be found in meat, butter and processed food such as cakes. Unsaturated/polyunsaturated fat, otherwise known as the ‘good fats’, can be found in olive oil, Omega-3 and sunflower oil.
Our bodies consist of 65% water, so drinking healthy fluids is vital to your wellbeing. If we don’t drink enough fluids, this can lead to dehydration, causing symptoms such as nausea, tiredness and headaches.
Eight glasses of water should be sufficient, however aim to drink more when in hotter countries or doing exercise that causes you to sweat.
It’s important to be mindful of salt as, like fat, it can cause severe health problems when too much has been ingested. Over-consumption can cause high blood pressure and raise the chances of having a stroke.
Aim to have no more than the recommended intake of 6g daily; it’s always worth checking food labels to avoid being unaware of salts that are ‘hidden’.
For more information on eating a balanced diet, visit the NHS Eat Well website. The pages provide further detail about the different food groups, as well as a range of healthy recipes.
Don’t forget, the EAP provides help and support for a number of common life challenges on the website or via the confidential 24/7 helpline.