A healthy diet is not “a week off chocolate”, “cutting down on biscuits” or “eliminating carbs” - it is a nutritional balance that includes protein, carbohydrates, dairy, fruit & veg, vitamins and even fats.
Nutritionist Michelle Carey hosted ‘Health Matters’ a talk on basic nutrition this month at part of the Landmark Hotel Coffee mornings.
We all remember the food pyramid from school, but many of us have forgotten it’s importance in our daily lives. According to Michelle Carey it is the best guide we have to make sure we are striking the right balance in our daily food consumption.
Each day we need to eat from the Bread, Cereal, Pasta, Rice group, the fruit and veg group, the dairy shelf, the Meat/ protein shelf and also the fat and oils group.
Skipping any of the shelves can cause problems for your health down the line. The bottom shelf full of carbs are the best source of fibre we have, with six servings a day it provides us with a boost of energy.
We know the fruit and veg shelf is important - five a day is needed for vitamins and minerals, iron, folic acid, and fibre. Dairy is important for calcium and protein, while Ms Carey advised the crowd to choose “lower fat varieties” she warned against skipping dairy altogether.
We may lack sunshine in Ireland but Vitamin D is needed for the absorption of calcium it can be found in eggs, and oily fish.
The meat, poultry, fish and nuts provides us with protein and iron. The fat and oils group is new to the top of the pyramid and Ms Carey said this should be kept in check as it includes all the sweets, butter and too tasty treats.
Michelle spoke about BMI - Body Mass index and noted that those who are apple shaped (weight around the middle of the body) need to be very careful as the fat is putting their organs under severe pressure.
The nutritionist also helped the audience on food labelling, she told everyone to keep a close eye on the labels of everyday essentials. She said you need to watch out for calories, sugar, saturated fat and salt - she noted that some supermarket brands are actually healthier than the popular brands.
Alcohol was also touched on, as it can contribute to weight gain and increased appetite.
To help you cook healthier she advised cutting off fat, removing skin, avoid frying, use spray oil and to steam, bake or boil when possible. To stay healthy we are advised to exercise for at least 30mins five days a week. Anybody trying to lose weight are advised not to skip any meals as they encourage binge eating. She said healthy snacking can help lose weight. She also said that carbohydrates are not fattening “it is what you are adding to them that is fattening.”
Concluding, she outlined that a pint of lager has the same calories as a hamburger.
She also revealed that there are 7 cubes of sugar in a packet of fruit pastilles, the same amount is in a can of Coca Cola and there are 8 cubes of sugar in Jams with no added sugar.
A Cadbury’s Twirl contains 4 cubes of sugar, the same amount as three Jaffa Cakes and an Actimel has 3 cubes of sugar in each portion.
For more information see www.safefood.eu