One of the main things that I thoroughly enjoy is supporting people to:
- eat healthily
- change their attitude towards food
- Change their lives
- to lose weight
- live longer
- To reduce health conditions
There are constant rumours specifically among teenagers that eating carbohydrate based food is bad for them, but also that fruit and vegetables can make them put on weight and become obese.
The importance of a balanced diet, especially during the teenage years is key, as well as the promotion of portion control, and the fact that diets do not work. This will form the basis of this article.
Eating less carbohydrate food is one of the popular ways to lose weight before any important function; this could be for a wedding, holiday, or even being in front of the television. Unfortunately the media portrays healthy eating in a negative way through promoting diets that restricts certain nutrients. This is then influenced on the younger generation, especially among teenagers.
A healthy diet should consist of the main 5 food groups:
- fruit and vegetables
- meat, fish and alternatives
- fat and sugar
- Milk and diary
Carbohydrates is very important, it provides energy for the various activities that we do. This could be preparing a cup of tea, taking a shower or a bath, washing the dishes, and even driving. Carbohydrates sometimes can receive negative information from the media because of the continuous mixed messages received with regards to carbohydrates and fat. Excess amounts of these foods can lead to weight gain; however this can depend on two things:
If foods containing fat and sugar are added to them for example if cheese is added to jacket potato, or chesses added to macaroni etc.
Excess carbohydrates are consumed, for example if a person has four slices of toast in the morning, then a bowl of cereal, and then a very large amount of lasagne at night. This again is linked portion control, which I explained in my previous articles.
Consuming foods higher in fibre is also valid as high fibre foods can:
- aid digestion
- control and reduce cholesterol
- Can also help to control cravings for foods higher in sugar and fat
The government recommends that a third of our diet should come from carbohydrate based foods. This can be found in bread, rice, cereals, potatoes and pasta. Wholemeal options are also available which can also include foods containing oats, and rye.
Milk and Dairy Foods
The UK Government recommends that 12% of foods should come from this section. Examples of these are milk, cheese, yoghurt, cream. They are all great sources of protein (for building new cells) and calcium (strong bones and teeth)
However they can contain very high amounts of fat, this is the reason that they are not as important in comparison to carbohydrates. This can lead to weight gain, and other obesity related problems. Choosing lower fat options can mean that essential nutrients are supplied, without concern of adding the saturated fat into the body.
Meat, fish and alternatives
Meat fish and alternatives are just as important. Similar to milk and diary 12% a day is required. Foods from this section can include eggs, beans, nuts and pulses. This section contains a variety of important minerals. One of them is iron, which can be found in red meat. Iron is important for building red blood cells, and maintaining the immune system. Another example is magnesium which is used to help build strong bones, teeth and muscles. There are other important minerals which are needed by the body, which is the reason why it is important to have a variety, including eggs, seeds and nuts.
Fruit and Vegetables
Fruit and vegetables contain a variety of vitamins and minerals. This ranges from vitamins A to Vitamin K. Every vitamin is very important; therefore it is important to consume fruit and vegetables, similar to a rainbow, so that every vitamin is consumed. For example:
- Vitamin C can be found in oranges, green leafy vegetables, and kiwi fruit. Vitamin C is important for the production of the immune system (to help fight colds and flu) and to help reduce cholesterol.
- Vitamin A can be found in blueberries, carrots, green leafy vegetables; they are used to improve eyesight, growth and taste. The more fruit and vegetables consumed the better it would be for the body.
Foods containing fat, and sugar
This is the smallest section of the foods that the UK population are supposed to have. The recommended amount is 10% a day. This shows that these foods can be consumed but in moderation. Unfortunately there are various evidence to demonstrate that the UK population consume these foods at high amounts. A chocolate bar and two glasses of a fizzy drink can lead to adding an extra four pounds a month. In two months, the person can put on over half a stone. It is advised that foods like this should be consumed with caution, and in small portions due to the dangers of them.
Finally it is important for young people to be aware that there is no need to diet, sensible eating, and exercise can eventually lead to a sensible weight loss, but also a sensible lifestyle, without the added pressure, to look or feel in a certain way.
I am an associate nutritionist with 5 years experience. If you would to receive further support or advice please contact me through my website