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NHS healthy diet – reviewed 2022

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NHS healthy diet

NHS healthy diet

NHS healthy diet

As a nation we are consuming more than 200-300kcal more than we need daily and we know excess calories lead to weight gain. Aiming for the 400-600-600 meal options will allow you to make more conscious food choices, read food labelling, control your calorie intake and improve your diet.

A calorie (kcal) is a unit that measures energy. It’s a way of describing how much energy your body can get from eating and drinking. In order to lose weight you need to eat fewer calories than your body burns each day. To maintain or reduce your weight we need to expend our energy through exercise and eat a balanced diet that is not too high in saturated fat, sugar and salt.

Your body needs calories to function and all foods and drinks contain calories. The problem is that it is very easy to consume more calories than we need and not burn them. This can have desired effects on our health such as weight gain which can cause lifestyle diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Sugar, salt and saturated fat

Foods that are high in sugar, salt and saturated fat such as cakes, biscuits, chocolates, pizza, fast foods and fizzy drinks contain a high amount of calories and are known as energy dense foods and when consumed in excess your body will store the extra energy as fat.

Every gram of fat is equivalent to 9kcal, every gram of carbohydrate and protein is equivalent to 4kcal. Our daily energy needs for females is 2000kcal and for men it is 2500kcal.

Fast foods and ready meals and some shop brought lunches such as sandwiches and pasties can contain more than 600kcal and in one sitting it is easy to go over our calorie requirements for the day.

Example of how we can exceed our calorie intake with unhealthy food choices:

Mcdonalds breakfast wrap-605kcal

Café Nero hot chocolate with cream-388kcal

Lunch-Mcdonalds hamburger, fries and coke- 757kcal

Snack-Starbucks blueberry muffin-472kcal

Dinner-Morrisons ready meal chicken curry and rice-476kcal

Drink-Can of coke-139kcal

Total calories in a day=2837kcal

Calorie intake exceeds campaign guidelines and our daily intake for men and women

Example of how we can opt for healthier options which meet our daily calorie needs:

Breakfast-Porridge with fresh fruit-236kcal

Lunch-mixed bean pasta salad-265kcal

Snack-cheese and crackers-190kcal

Dinner- thai green vegetable chicken curry and rice-400kcal

Fruit portion banana-62kcal

Snack- small bag of nuts-259kcal

Total calories in a day=1412kcal

Calorie intake meets the campaign guidelines and our daily intake for men and women

So how can we reduce our calories?

By making wiser choices and small changes by far you can improve your diet!

  1. Opt for low fat dairy products
  2. Use fresh fruit to sweeten your foods
  3. Opt for nutritious snacks such as nuts, cheese and crackers, veggie sticks with a dip, dried fruit, fresh fruit with natural yoghurt, baked crisps
  4. Swap fizzy drinks and juices for water
  5. Make your meals from scratch rather than buying ready meals and takeaways
  6. Add less salt to your cooking and replace with herbs and spices
  7. Grilling, steaming, baking, one pot cooking and pan frying can reduce calorie intake
  8. Lean cuts of meat, opting for fish and chicken and cutting back on red meat,
  9. Watch out for the sugary cereals and replace them with Weetabix, porridge, home made smoothies eggs on wholemeal toast
  10. Opt for wholegrain foods, more vegetables and fruit and eating a balanced diet can definitely help you
  11. Cut back on the saturated fats and including more mono and polyunsaturated fats such as olive oil, almonds, walnuts, avocado, sunflower and rapeseed oil and oily fish
  12. Watch out your portion size and fill ½ your plate with colourful vegetables

And don’t forget to exercise which can prevent you from developing lifestyle diseases and help you lose weight and feel good.  Find lots of ways to get active on our Be Active page.

If you need support in improving your lifestyle contact the One You Merton team where one of our health advisors will help you to set goals towards a healthier you – call us on 020 8973 3545

For more information on eating well visit our Eat Well page.

NHS healthy diet – useful links:

NHS website – understanding calories

Better Health Lose Weight

NHS website – daily calories intake

BBC Good Food – balanced diet

Gopika Papiah
Children’s Healthy Weight Advisor