Six steps to happy healthiness

Each week a new diet hits the headlines, but which one do you follow and how do these fads really affect the body?

Jackie Donkin, nutritional therapist and Edwin Grey, physiologist at Nuffield Health share their top tips for good nutrition and simple lifestyle changes that can improve your health and mood.

1. FOOD CAN HELP YOUR MOOD

Cutting down on processed foods such as biscuits, cakes, pastries and crisps will limit the spikes in your mood and energy levels caused by high fat and sugar foods. These foods, unlike fruits and vegetables, are low in the essential nutrients that aid digestion, skin health and mood. A diet based largely on processed foods is likely to result in weight gain and ill health. Maintain energy levels and improve good mood by following a healthy diet supported by the recommended 2.5 hours of exercise a week reduces stress and risk of many lifestyle diseases such as type 2 diabetes.

2. PORTION PERCEPTION

Thanks to ‘eat what you like’ buffets, oval dinner plates and an increase in social dinning, portion sizes have become a thing of the past. Use the NHS Eat Well Plate to help monitor your portion sizes and you may see an energy increase and weight loss. It will also help you to visualise your food groups.

3. DON’T CUT CARBS

Some trendy diets call for a ‘carb cull’. Avoid these diets, as carbohydrates are good for you and a much needed source of fuel. The trick is to concentrate on improving the quality of your carbohydrate choice, for example, wholemeal pasta, rice and bread are healthier because they are unrefined (fibre and other nutrients have not been removed during a refining process, as with white bread, rice and pasta). You could also try some different sources, grains such as quinoa, buckwheat and millet – these are very wholesome and are also very low in calories.”

4. BALANCE IS BEST

It is really important to eat a balance of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Our food intake should provide us with a large proportion of the nutrients we need and the only way to do that is to incorporate all food groups. As a rough guide our total food intake should be 50-60% carbohydrates, 15-20% protein and 20-30% fats. This is affected by weight, height and other individual factors. For a personalised plan speak to a nutritional therapist.

5.BEAUTIFUL FOODS

If you’re interested in improving the condition of your skin look no further than your plate. What you put into your body will affect what it looks like on the outside. Eating a rainbow coloured diet will improve skin condition and prevent lack lustre. The nutrients we gain from fruits and vegetables, wholegrains, poultry, nuts/seeds and oils all feed our skin the nutrients and moisture it needs.

The hair and eyes are also supported by the vitamins and nutrients available in healthy foods. The essential fatty acids – found in fish; vitamin C – found in citrus fruits and green vegetables plus vitamin E – found in nuts, peanut butter and sweet potatoes have a nourishing affect. Enjoying a mix of these foods with a healthy diet of pulses, seafood and vegetables will help keep your eyes healthy and working as they should.

6.WATER WORKS

Water is really important because it acts as a lubricant, surrounding organs and acting as a protective barrier. It helps removes waste products and acts as a cooling mechanism to maintain proper body temperature, which is extremely important for mental clarity. NHS guidelines state we should drink 1.2 litres of fluid a day. If you struggle to drink this much try adding a sugar free squash to water, but steer clear of alcohol or caffeinated drinks which cause digestive stress and increases toxins.