Healthy Eating Week - June 2022

This healthy eating week is a great opportunity to check back in with you.

Photograph; Sharon McCutcheon


Last year, we focused on finding a healthier you, and we took that time to reflect what that meant to us as individuals. You can view that here.


This year, we are looking externally, and the message is all about eating well for you and the planet. The topic of food, nutrition and sustainability is fascinating, with lots of focus on things that we could change or alter to reduce our impact on the planet. There is lots of debate on what makes a healthy and sustainable diet. Generally, a diet based around wholegrains, fruits and vegetables with moderate meat, dairy and fish quantities is healthy and sustainable (1).


Here at Talkington Bates, we are focusing on 5 key areas to keep you and the planet healthy this healthy eating week.



1. Focus on Fibre


Fibre can be found in lots of different foods, and is important for our gut and digestive system health. Fibre is also a key part of a sustainable diet, and it’s in many of the foods that form the basis of an environmentally friendly plate. As adults, government guidance suggests 30g of fibre of day, which can be found from a variety of sources. However, many of us aren’t meeting that recommendation.


Firstly, what is Fibre? Fibre is a mixture of compounds found in plants and plant-based foods that cannot be digested fully in our gut. Otherwise known as non-digestible carbohydrates. Fibre is found in things like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and pulses. There are different types of fibre, found in different foods which differ in their characteristics. Fibre can’t be fully digested in the small intestine and travels through our digestive system, where It is fermented by gut microbiota. This process produces beneficial short chain fatty acids, which are responsible for lots of the beneficial properties of fibre on our health.


It can often be difficult to know where to start when thinking about increasing our Fibre intake, especially as it’s in so many things. Here are a few top tips!


Choose a wholegrain product over a refined grain.



Wholegrains are great sources of Fibre as well as other vitamins and minerals. Technically speaking, a wholegrain contains the entire wheat grain, where each layer has different properties, meaning a wholegrain has a varied nutritional composition. Wholegrains include things such as spelt, bulgur, brown rice, oats and quinoa.


Pack your snacks with high fibre foods.


Snacks are a great place to sneak fibre into your day. Fruit and veg, nuts and seeds and dried fruits, are all great places to add some fibre into your day.


Keep the skins on your potatoes.


Potatoes are a carbohydrate that sees its way onto many of our plates. Although potatoes don’t count as one of your five a day, they are technically considered a carbohydrate, they can be great for loads of reasons. One of which is that they contain fibre, most which is found in the skin. So, next time you’re having potatoes for dinner keep those skins in for an added fibre boost!


Fill your plate up with veg.


Vegetables are an excellent place to get fibre from. Try planning your plate around your vegetables, rather than adding them as a side, to get more fibre in your day.



Add in beans and legumes to your dishes.


Add beans and legumes into your meals as a replacement to meat, or go for a 50/50 approach, reduce your meat by 50% and fill up the rest with plant based protein.



2. Get at least 5 a day


It may sound like a cliché, but getting your 5-a-day is an excellent way to get a variety of vitamins, minerals and fibre into your diet. However, many of us are quite reaching it.


Although it’s a phrase that’s used a lot, it’s not always easy to get 5-a-day. Lots of factors like time, price, cooking skills and availability of fresh fruits and veg can all be reasons we might struggle.


Equally, it can be a challenge to know what counts towards your 5-a-day. Lots more food than you may realise fits into your 5-a-day. This includes;


80g of fresh frozen of canned fruit and vegetables. If opting for a canned version, try to avoid the one with added sugar or salt.


30g of dried fruit or veg.


150ml of unsweetened 100% fruit/vegetable juice or 100% fruit and/or vegetable smoothies. These only count as one of your 5-a-day, regardless of how much you drink due to the impact of processing on the fruit and vegetables.


80g of beans and pulses for example, haricot, butter, soya and kidney beans as well as chickpeas and lentils.



If you are trying to get more fruit and vegetables into your diet here’s a few of our top tips:


Keep things manageable and try to get your fruit and veg in different ways.


For example, lots of things can count towards your five a day such as fresh, frozen, tinned, dried and juice varieties of fruits and veg.


Keep with the seasons


Focus your five a day around what’s in season where you are. Fruit and veg bought in season is often cheaper and a little tastier than out of season produce. Check out a seasonality calendar to see what’s in season right now where you are.


Give a vegetable boxes a try


Vegetable boxes are often great ways to grab seasonal produce in an easy and accessibly way. They are also a great way to keep things interesting and try lots of different veg that you might normally go for.


Eat the rainbow.


Eating a wide variety of colours indicates a range of vitamins, minerals and fibre. Fill your plate with the rainbow.


Level up your mash with root vegetables.


As potatoes are not considered to be one of your 5-a-day, go 50/50 with other root vegetables such as sweet potato, turnips or Swede to get an extra portion in.



3. Vary your protein


Proteins are important for growth and repair, as well as keeping our muscles strong and healthy. Proteins are essential for life, as well as being responsible for many key functions in the body.


Proteins are large molecules, made up of long chains of amino acids. There are about 20 different amino acids that are commonly found in plant or animal foods. Some of which cannot be produced within the human body, and we need to get from food, these are known as essential.


Protein is important to our health and throughout our life course, particularly in times of growth such as childhood, pregnancy and bre


astfeeding. The amount of protein we need is dependent on lots of factors, however, we are recommended 0.75g of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.


Although protein is found in meat and fish, there are also a huge variety of places we can get sources of protein. Switching up your protein sources is also a great way to not only meet your protein requirements, but also get a range of vitamins, minerals and fibre.


Fish, eggs, dairy and dairy products are examples of some other animal based products where you can find proteins. They can also be found in many plant-based sources too. These include things like soya and soya products, pulses, beans, grains and nuts and nut butters. Here are our top tips for mixing up your proteins!


Eat meat less regularly, try a meat free day.


For regular meat eaters try and reduce your meat consumption to 1-2 times a week. Try a meat free day, or alternatively look to more sustainable meats.


Go for 50/50 with meat and plant base


d protein.

For your favourite dishes that involve mince, reduce the meat content by 50% and top up your protein with beans and pulses.


Mix and match your plant-based proteins.


For veggie and vegan eaters, mix your proteins and opt for lots of different sources. Not only will this help to meet your protein requirements, but it will allow you to get a variety of amino acid.


Look for sustainably sourced seafood


Fish is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, and an important part of our diets. However, it’s important to look for sustainable sources of fish where you can.


Up your snack game with proteins.


Lots of snacks are great places to find protein. If you usually opt for a meat-based option try a plant based version such as nuts, seeds, nut butters and wholegrains.



4. Stay Hydrated


Keeping hydrated throughout your day is key to maintain vital functions in the body, regulating temperate, removing waste products and protecting our joints. We lose water through the skin, sweat, urine and breathing. We are recommended 6-8 glasses of fluid every day, however this can change depending on weather, physical activity level and age.


Keeping hydrated is an important part of the picture when it comes to our health, but also sustainability. Single-use plastic usage in water bottles is exceptionally high, with 7.7 billion plastic bottles bought across the UK each year (2). Small changes can have a big change on our usage. The biggest small change being a move to refilling reusable water bottles with tap water, rather than using single-use plastic.


Here are a few of our top tips on how to keep hydrated, while keeping the planet in mind.


Keep water close by.


Keep a reusable water bottle close to you, in your bag, at your desk as a reminder to drink more water.


Notice when you’re feeling dehydrated.


Notice the signs of dehydration in yourself. Dehydration occurs when we lose more fluid than we take in. It can often cause headaches, tiredness and a loss of concentration. With one of the biggest indicators being thirst.


Make it more interesting with flavour.


Flavouring water is a great way to make it more exciting and palatable. You could try flavouring water with fruit, herbs or flavoured ice cubes.


It doesn’t have to be water.


Lots of other fluids contribute to our hydration. These include tea, coffee, milk and fruit juice.


Set a reminder.


If you find it challenging to remember when to drink water or struggle to notice signs of dehydration in yourself, set a reminder on your phone. Equally, there are lots of apps which are helpful for tracking water intake.



5. Reduce Food Waste


As of October 2021, the charity Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), estimated food waste in the UK to be at 9.5 million tonnes (3). It’s evident that food waste is a really challenging problem in the UK and globally. However, it can be difficult to know where to start with making reductions in food waste. But often small steps can be the most helpful.


Plan your meals ahead


Planning meals ahead can take the stress out of last minute dinner decisions. It’s also useful to help us know how much to prepare and to buy, helping to minimise food waste. Planning also it’s a great way to buy the exact amount that your need. Particularly for foods with a shorter shelf life.


Optimise freezing and storage


If you often end up with food left over and don’t know what to do with the left overs, lots of foods keep well in the freezer, and can be a great last minute meal. Freezing is useful for lots of different foods, not just leftovers. Get to know what you can put in your freezer and how to store things safely.


Check in with your portion sizes


A quick and easy tip for reducing food waste is to check in with your portion sizes, especially if you often find yourself throwing food away or having lots left over. The charity love food hate waste has a useful tool to calculate average portion sizes. Lots of foods also have information around serving and cooking guidance on their packaging.


Get to know your hunger and fullness levels.


Everybody’s different when it comes to serving size. Sometimes, the ‘recommended’ serving size just isn’t enough or is too much for you. It’s useful to bear in mind that serving sizes are based on averages, that do not represent everyone. Notice whether your current serving sizes feel like they fill you up or leave you hungry.


Get creative with your leftovers.


We talked a little about freezing your leftovers. But if you don’t have a freezer, there’s not enough space or there’s not enough to make a whole portion try combining your leftovers with other foods. You could add wholegrains or other grains, add more veg or add in some more veg to create a new meal.


Reference:


1. Willett W, Rockström J, Loken B, Springmann M, Lang T, Vermeulen S et al. Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT–Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems. The Lancet. 2019;393(10170):447-492.


2. National Refill Day [Internet]. Water.org.uk. 2018 [cited 18 May 2022]. Available from: https://www.water.org.uk/news-item/national-refill-day/


3. WRAP. Food surplus and waste in the UK – key facts. 2021.