There's more than one way to be healthy.
Eating well is important and we want to help you get a diet is varied and balanced, and full of all the nutrients your body needs. Here’s some things you need to know for a balanced diet and healthy life.
Carbohydrates are energy-rich foods that keep you full, and include rice and bread for example. You should base your meals on these and choose wholegrain options where possible as they contain more fibre and nutrients than white or refined starchy foods.
You can gradually introduce more fibre. Changing your diet too drastically, too quickly can cause stomach upsets and make it harder to keep up new good habits. You can gradually introduce fibre by leaving the skin on your fruit and veg, adding beans to curries or mixing bran cereal into your usual cornflakes: the possibilities are many.
Getting your 5 a day will give you the nutrients you need to stay healthy and feeling energised. Just include a portion of fruit and/or veg in every meal, whether it's fresh, dried, tinned or frozen.
Fresh, frozen, canned, dried and fruit juices/smoothies all count towards your 5-a-day, so you have plenty of options to choose from. One portion of fresh fruit or veg is around 80g, 30g if it’s dried fruit, and 150ml for juices or smoothies. Bear in mind that juice or smoothies only count as one portion, no matter how much you have. So try to stick to just one glass a day.
There are lots of easy ways to add extra vegetables to your meals e.g. grated carrots or courgettes in spaghetti Bolognese or cauliflower and green beans in your curry. Red peppers go really well in pasta sauce and you can easily mix peas or spring onions into mashed potato. Or simply pop some crunchy lettuce and sliced tomato into your lunchtime sandwich.
To get the benefits of 5 a day, you need to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables to get the benefits of 5 a day, rather than just eating 5 portions of the same type of fruit or veg.
Red meat is a good source of protein but it's recommended you should not regularly exceed more than 70g per day. Try to choose those leaner cuts and look to trim off any excess fat. Grilling rather than frying is a much healthier way to cook it. Don't forget that skinless chicken and turkey breast are lower in saturated fat and therefore make a great alternative. Why not switch out your beef mince for turkey mince in your spaghetti bolognese for a healthier option during the week.
Fish is also a great source of protein, and often contains a lot of additional vitamins including Omega 3. For a really balanced diet, try to eat at least two portions (a portion is about 140g cooked weight) of fish a week, including one portion of oily fish such as mackerel, herrings, sardines, trout, salmon or pilchards.
Eating too much sugar can also become a problem. Sugary foods and drinks are high in calories, so having a lot can make it difficult to maintain a healthy weight. You also risk of tooth decay. In short, keep your sugar consumption low. But that doesn't mean you can't enjoy a little now and then.
Try to limit sweets, cakes, biscuits, chocolate and fizzy drinks to occasional treats. Why not choose tinned fruit in juice rather than syrup or switch from sugary squashes and cordials to No added sugar varieties?
You’ll find less sugar in Co-op branded products
We know the amount of sugar in our diets is important to our shoppers and we’ve been working hard to reduce sugar in our Co-op branded products, particularly the foods we know children enjoy.
To date, we’ve removed over 328 million teaspoons of sugar in Co-op branded products. We’ve done this through reformulation and slowly, to make it easy for our customers. To help make our healthier choices easy and convenient we have been busy:
- removing all added sugar in our high juice and juice drinks
- decreasing sugar in our vanilla, banana and chocolate flavoured milks
- making our yogurts less sugary, our mango and passionfruit frozen yogurt contains 29% less sugar and our mixed berry frozen yogurt contains 28% less sugar
- removing sugar from sorbets, our raspberry flavour now contains 37% less
- making sweets less sugary, like our strawberry lances, now with 10% less sugar
- removing all added sugar from the tomato base in our chilled pizzas, they now contain only natural sugar found in tomatoes
- reducing sugar by an average of 11% in our own brand breakfast cereals, including reductions of 25% in cornflakes, 17% in bran flakes, 16% in frosted flakes and golden nut cornflakes.
- making our desserts just sweet enough - our strawberry mousse now contains 20% less sugar, strawberry trifle contains 17% less and our strawberry cheesecake contains 10% less
We’ve got history
Looking after the health of our shoppers by making healthier, low sugar options available has always been important to us.
Back in 1985 we added dental health warnings to the packaging of our own-brand sweets, later extending this to soft drinks in 1996. In 2009 we introduced traffic light labelling on all Co-op products, so low sugar choices are clear. In 2015 our healthy snacking range launched as an alternative to sweet snacks and in 2016 we banned sweets from checkouts.
We’re proud of our sugar reduction journey so far. We continue to remove sugar in Co-op products, ensuring we don’t affect taste or quality of products as we go along.
Fat is a healthy part of your diet. The key is to only have a little and get the right kind.
Saturated fat is is found in butter, cakes, crisps, sweets, biscuits and pies. Saturated fat can contribute to raised blood cholesterol levels, which increases the risk of heart disease. Enjoy these foods as an occasional treat and keep portion sizes small.
Unsaturated fat is found in vegetable oils, olive oil, oily fish, avocados, nuts and seeds. They all contain either monosaturates or polyunsaturates, which are much kinder to your heart than saturated fats. Make sure you eat some of these 'good' fats.
You can reduce saturated fat in many ways such as using leaner mince, trimming fat from meat, or swapping cheese based sauces with tomato or vegetable based sauces.
Eat less salt
If you don't add salt to your meals at the dinner table, you probably think you don't each much salt. However, salt can be present in many everyday foods including bread, breakfast cereals and ready meals.
Adults should have no more than 6g of salt each day, and children under 11 years old should have less. Check the colour coded nutrition information on packs to see how much a portion contains. Approximately one-third of adults in the UK have raised blood pressure*, and a diet high in salt can be a cause.
*NHS Choices – Live Well. Salt: the facts
While eating a variety of food is important, so is eating the right amount. Getting the right portion size will help control your calorie intake. Use the Eat Well plate to see the recommended portion size.
Uncooked rice 75g Uncooked pasta 100g New potatoes 5 small Dry porridge oats/breakfast cereal 3 tbsp Museli 2 tbsp Bread or toast 1 medium slice Hard cheese 30g Low fat yoghurt/fromage frais Small 150ml pot Milk (semi-skimmed/1% fat/skimmed) 1/2 pint or 1 glass Red/processed meat 70g per day
It’s really important to eat breakfast every morning because your body needs energy after all those hours without food. If you've had a healthy breakfast, you're less likely to be hungry for sugary snacks mid-morning.
I don't have much time for breakfast. What can I eat on the go? Keep a stock of foods that are easy to grab on your way out such as bananas, apples, satsumas or slices of fruit bread. Make a big fruit salad for dessert after an evening meal and save some in a plastic box in the fridge so that it can be eaten for breakfast the next morning.
Breakfast bars and biscuits are convenient but they can be high in fat, sugar and salt so check the label before buying.
Drinking water is another great way to look after your day-to-day health. The Eatwell Guide recommends you drink 6-8 glasses a day. Water, lower fat milk, sugar free drinks, tea and coffee are all included.