June 13 to 17 is Healthy Eating Week in the UK. Here, Jamie’s nutrition team breakdown what the week is all about and how you can get involved!
The British Nutrition Foundation’s Healthy Eating Week is a dedicated time for workers and school children to focus on healthy eating and physical activity, in order to encourage healthier living.
Taking place this coming week, the campaign is made up of five different health challenges:
1. Have breakfast
Why is it important to have breakfast? When you wake up in the morning, you are breaking a 10 to 12 hour fast – that’s where the term break-fast comes from! A good breakfast sets you up for the day and has been associated with many health benefits, including cognitive performance, so it’s important to get it right.
What does a good breakfast consist of?
- High-fibre or wholegrain carbohydrates, such as wholemeal bread, porridge oats, wheat bran or wholemeal pancakes
- A source of protein, such as nuts, seeds or eggs
- At least one portion of fruit or veg (if you want to include a fruit-based juice or smoothie, stick to a 150ml portion size – this is enough to count as one portion of your 5-a-day)
- Dairy food or a fortified dairy alternative, such as natural yoghurt, semi-skimmed milk or cottage cheese
2. Get your 5-a-day
Eating at least five portions of fruit and veg a day is well-known public health advice in the UK, but very few of us actually manage it! Only 30% of adults and 7 to 10% of teenagers are currently getting their 5-a-day recommended intake. Fruit and vegetables provide essential vitamins and minerals, as well as fibre, that our bodies need to stay healthy. Eating more fruit and veg can help to reduce the risk of developing a wide range of health problems, including obesity, type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
What counts as a portion of fruit and veg?
80g of fresh, frozen or canned fruit or vegetables, 150ml of fruit juice or fruit purée (in the form of smoothies) and 30g of dried fruit. For example:
- Half a large apple, pear or banana
- A large handful of berries or cherry tomatoes
- 1 to 2 smaller fruits, such as plums or kiwis
- 2 heaped tablespoons of peas, beans or pulses
Just remember that only one portion each of beans, pulses, fruit juice (or purée) and dried fruit count towards one of your 5-a-day.
The best way to get a good variety of fruit and veg into your diet is to eat the rainbow. For super-easy ways to get more veg, why not skewer it on kebabs, stuff it into pittas or chop it into matchsticks for dunking in a delicious homemade dip? And if you’re worried about the little ones getting enough fruit and veg, this feature might come in handy.
3. Drink plenty (of water!)
Our bodies are predominantly made up of water – we need it for many things, from regulating body temperature, to maintaining normal cognitive and physical functioning. Dehydration can impact on our concentration levels and leave us feeling tired and headachey. It’s especially important remember to drink more in situations where you may be losing more water due to sweating, for example during exercise or on a hot day.
How much water should I be drinking?
- Adults should be drinking around 1.6 to 2 litres of fluid a day, preferably in the form of unsweetened drinks.
- Water is always the best option, followed by low-fat milk. Tea and coffee also contribute, as well as 150ml of fruit juice.
People also often confuse thirst with hunger, so keeping well-hydrated may also help to prevent overeating. If you struggle to enjoy water on its own, try infusing it with different fruits, such as pomegranate and lime. Check out this feature to find out more about the benefits of staying hydrated.
4. Get active
Many of us lead sedentary lives, often sitting at a desk, looking at a computer or TV screen and travelling in cars or on public transport. In fact, many adults spend more than seven hours a day sitting or lying down. As well as the need to be more active, we also need to spend less time sitting down, as inactivity and being sedentary for long periods has been linked with an increased risk of becoming overweight or obese, developing type-2 diabetes and suffering from cardiovascular issues.
How much exercise should we be doing?
- We should aim to do at least 30 minutes of moderate or vigorous-intensity exercise on five days of the week (increasing your heart rate to an extent where you are breathing harder and feeling warmer, while losing the ability to hold a conversation as intensity increases).
Make a conscious effort to stand up from your desk every 20 minutes, go for a walk at lunchtime to stretch your legs, and make a point of walking over to speak to colleagues at work rather than using the phone. Sitting on an exercise ball is also a great way to keep active while at your desk!
It’s super important to eat well before and after exercise to get all the energy you need, as well as enough protein and carbohydrate post-exercise to help with muscle repair and to replenish muscle glycogen stores. Stuck for ideas? Try whipping up Jamie’s tasty energy balls or these easy flatbreads.
5. Try something new
The final task challenges you to try a new healthy food or drink that you haven’t tried before, or to try a new physical activity or type of exercise. It can be anything from trying a new fruit or vegetable that you’ve previously been dubious about, or going to your first gym class. This could help to increase variety in your diet, find a new skill or activity to enjoy, meet new people and to help prevent you getting bored with being healthy!
If you want to put a new spin on any of your usual recipes, here are some great ones to try. Upgrade your chips to healthier versions with these smoky mixed-potato wedges or try something a bit different with this pear crunch salad.
For loads more healthy recipes that the whole family can enjoy during Healthy Eating Week and beyond, check out this collection on JamieOliver.com.
What are your top tips for healthy eating? Share in the comments below and join the conversation online with #FoodRevolution and #HEW2016.
Read more about the campaign here.