Cook more meals from scratch
Eating well is really important for our health and wellbeing, but not always easy - especially during lockdown. With so much unhealthy food on offer at low prices, it can be hard to make healthy choices, but eating well supports our physical and mental health and helps ward off lifestyle diseases like heart disease, hypertension and some cancers.
The simplest and most effective way to eat well is to follow the Eat Well Guide, which shows us the proportions and types of food that make up a healthy diet. Other key elements are balance and variety. We all have days where we splurge on take-outs and crisps, but the Eat Well approach focuses more on what we do over a week rather than focusing on a single day.
So, how do I eat a balance with variety?
Try combining the following food groups throughout the day:
Plenty of fruit and vegetables.
Starchy carbohydrates such as potatoes, bread, rice, pasta, yam, plantain, noodles, oats. Wholegrain is best and keeps you fuller for longer.
High protein foods such as beans, lentils and chickpeas (these are low cost and a great source of fibre to keep energy levels stable), nuts and seeds, fish, eggs and meat.
A small amount of dairy or alternatives, e.g. cheese, natural yoghurt, milk or non-dairy alternatives.
What counts as a healthy snack?
Snacks can help to keep energy levels up between meals. Try to make snacks similar to foods you serve at mealtimes. To create good habits in children, give them the same snacks you have. Most shop-bought snacks are full of salt, sugar and/or fat so, best to limit them. Whilst a little bit of what you fancy does you good, balance it with some of the following:
Fruit and veg. Try some carrot and cucumber sticks or a bit of fruit – cut it up and put it in a bowl to keep by your side. Dip veg into hummus for added protein goodness or add some fruit to a bowl of natural yoghurt. Try and get 5 portions a day.
Nuts and nut butter. Try peanut butter on rice cakes, crackers, toast, celery or carrot sticks. Any type of nuts (preferably not salted) is a great snack.
Toast, crackers or rice cakes with cheese and some veg, e.g. tomatoes.
Plain popcorn – great fun to make with kids, easy and cheap.
Learn to cook
One great thing you can do is to cook from scratch. It doesn’t have to be every day – even if you do it occasionally, you’ll see changes to your health and bank balance. But, if you don’t know how don’t despair!
A great place to start is at one of GCDA's Cookery Clubs. These free cookery clubs will help develop confidence and skills to start preparing delicious, healthy, affordable meals from scratch. The more you cook, the better you’ll feel! If you’re interested in finding out more, then call 0800 470 4831