Posts Tagged ‘5 a day’

Diet and Exams

Monday, May 27th, 2013

What students eat and drink in the run up to their exams can affect their performance. Taking the time to eat healthily, get fresh air and exercise are very important preparations for a clear and focused mind during exam time.

Nutrition Tips -


Skipping breakfast can mean loss of recall and concentration both detrimental to a student so ensure you choose foods that are high in fibre and give your body a slow steady release of glucose for example

• Wholegrain cereal with milk, fresh orange food

• Bowl of porridge with sultanas.

• Wholemeal bread toasted with chopped banana.



Snacking regularly on healthy foods can also ensure a steady slow release of glucose to the brain. Useful foods as snacks include

• Fresh fruit or vegetables.

• Popcorn.

• Fruit /Wholemeal scone.

• Dried fruit /nuts.

• Wholegrain cereal bars.



Many students will be sitting two exam papers /day so eating a good lunch is very important. Here are some good options -

• Bowl vegetable soup and wholemeal scone/bread

• Wholemeal chicken/ham/egg/cheese sandwich

• Chicken/tuna wrap


Nutrition tips to help avoid colds and flu

Monday, November 12th, 2012

The cold and flu season has begun. While there is no way to cure the common cold or the flu, healthy eating during cold and flu season can help prevent you getting sick.

Researchers have found positive links between immune function and components in food.

Garlic may boost your immune system, increasing resistance to infection and  stress. Raw garlic is an expectorant – good for chest infections and coughs.

Yoghurts and other dairy products contain probiotics, beneficial bacterial with immune boosting benefits. Also check dairy product labels for vitamin D. Early research suggests low levels of vitamin D may be linked to a seasonal increase in colds and flu and a higher incidence of respiratory infections.

Vitamin C, found in citrus fruits and juices, may also help the body’s immune system.

Zinc, found in meat, chicken, peanuts and peanut butter, plays an important role in the proper functioning of the immune system in the body

Healthy eating during cold and flu season means getting the daily requirement of essential vitamins and minerals by eating a balanced diet that contains a variety of foods from all food groups.

Boost your immune system

Healthy bodies have an easier time fighting off infection. To stay healthy and boost your immune system:

  • Get plenty of rest. Get at least seven to eight hours sleep a night.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet. Healthy foods such as vegetables, fruit, grains, etc. are an important part of keeping your body nutrition at its best. Processed, fatty, and sugary foods don’t give the immune boosting protection that healthier food does.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Reduce stress levels.
  • Keep well hydrated. Dehydration inhibits the immune system’s functioning.
  • Cut back on unhealthy habits, such as smoking and over consumption of alcohol

Studies have shown that a session of moderate physical activity produces positive effects on the immune system. Over time, this means catching fewer colds and other upper respiratory tract infections.

What is Glycaemic Index?

Monday, October 1st, 2012

What is Glycaemic Index (GI)?

Glycaemic Index is a measure of how high your blood sugar gets after eating a food. It was originally designed to help people with diabetes to make better food choices but research has found that it might be useful in helping people to get to and stay at a healthy weight.


How does GI help with weight?

High blood sugar from high GI foods cause increases in the amount of insulin your body makes. Insulin helps to lower blood sugar levels after a meal but it also is important in helping your body to store other nutrients including fat. High levels of insulin encourage your body to store fat, rather than burn it. This means that when blood sugar increases it can encourage your body to store fat.


When you eat low GI foods your blood sugar level stays lower (but not too low) and so insulin stays lower and this can encourage your body to burn fat. Low GI foods are also more satisfying and help keep your metabolism running faster. This is why they are important for helping anyone to lose weight or to keep off weight they have already lost.


Which foods are low and which are high GI?

Only foods with carbohydrate can raise blood sugar levels. Any foods with no carbohydrate are low GI foods. Foods with no carbohydrate include meat, chicken, fish and eggs.


High GI Foods

Low GI Foods


•   Most breads – brown or white

•   Potatoes

•   Cooked fruit

•   Some root vegetables e.g. parsnips

•  Foods high in sugar e.g. soft drinks, sweets, biscuits, cakes, etc

•   Popcorn

•   Crisps



•   Porridge, high fibre breakfast cereals

•   Bread made with 50% oats or more

•   Pasta – brown or white

•   Brown rice and Basmati Rice

•   Pulses – beans, peas and lentils

•   Fresh fruit, fruit smoothies

•   Meat, poultry, fish, eggs

•   Dairy products

•   Most vegetables and salads



Strawberry and Banana Smoothie

Monday, July 2nd, 2012


1 banana

200ml low fat strawberry yoghurt

120ml low fat milk

120ml crushed ice


  1. Place all the ingredients in a blender or food processor.
  2. Blend for 30 seconds to a smooth, thick drink.
  3. Pour into a tall glass, add ice and strawberries to decorate if you wish.


Vegetarian Eating

Monday, March 12th, 2012

A well planned vegetarian diet can be nutritionally balanced for both adults and children however it is very important not to simply avoid animal products but to substitute them with nutritious alternatives such as dairy foods, eggs, pulses, nuts, seeds, and cereals.


There are 2 main types of vegetarians –


Lacto-ovo vegetarians.

Lacto-ovo vegetarians avoid meat, poultry and fish but eat eggs, milk and dairy products as well as cereals, vegetables, pulses, grains, seeds and nuts. The nutritional issues that these group face are similar to those following a conventional diet i.e. watch out for high fat, high salt. Choose mainly low fat cheese for example Edam, Gouda along with plenty of grains, vegetables, and fruits. Ensure you take an iron and folic acid supplement before during pregnancy as requirements are higher for these nutrients.



Vegans avoid meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk and dairy produce but eat cereals, fruit, vegetables, pulses, grains, seeds and nuts. Vegans have very different nutritional issues. Without any foods of animal origin getting enough calories to maintain a healthy weight can be difficult especially for growing children and nutrients such as Vitamin B12 and iron (needed for healthy red blood cells),Vitamin D and calcium (needed for healthy bones/teeth) and zinc (essential for healthy growth) all require special attention.


How to achieve a healthy vegetarian diet

The current healthy eating guidelines recommend that we reduce fat, sugar and salt in our diets and eat more fruit and vegetables; this can be achieved by a vegetarian diet. No single food contains all the nutrients that our bodies need so a variety is required.


Cereals, rice, potato and pasta group

6+ portions recommended/day. Choose fortified cereals to help with iron and Vitamin B12 intakes.

Fruit and vegetable group

5 or more recommended daily. Good sources of Vitamin A and C and folic acid.

Milk and dairy group.

The main nutrients supplied by this group are calcium, Vitamin B12, protein, energy and Vitamin A. Soya Milk and products are used by those following a vegan diet but ensure that the products you choose are fortified with calcium, to help meet your requirements.

The meat alternative group

This group includes peas, beans, lentils, tofu, nuts, seeds, textured vegetable protein, quorn cheese and eggs.

Fats and oil group

This group also contains sugar sweets confectionary, crisps, biscuits etc. Vegetarians who require a higher energy may need to include additional servings from this group.


How to Eat Your Way to Good Skin

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Golden rules to keep your skin looking youthful – the best way to do this is by choosing the right diet.

Eat your 5-a-day

Fruit and vegetables contain powerful antioxidants that help to protect against the cell damage caused by free radicals, which include smoking, pollution and sunlight. Vitamin C is one of the most powerful antioxidants. It is found in all fruit and vegetables but especially in citrus fruits, red peppers and kiwi fruit. Betacarotene, found in pumpkin, carrots, and sweet potatoes, and lutein, found in kale, papaya and spinach are also antioxidants.


Cut out crash diets

Repeatedly losing and regaining weight can take its toll on your skin, causing sagging, wrinkles and stretch marks. Crash diets are often short in essential vitamins, too.


Stock up on selenium

This is also a powerful antioxidant – studies suggest that a selenium-rich diet can help to protect against skin cancer, sun damage and age spots. One way to boost your intake is to eat brazil nuts, fish, shellfish and eggs.


Drink up

Even mild dehydration will cause your skin to look dry, tired and slightly grey. Drink at least six glasses of water a day – all fluids count towards your daily allowance, but water is the healthiest.


Don’t be afraid of fat

Good fats – the type found in avocados, nuts and seeds – provide essential fatty acids, which act as a natural moisturiser for your skin, keeping it supple.


Zap up your zinc

Zinc is involved in the normal functioning of the oil-producing glands in the skin, and also promotes skin healing. Zinc-rich foods include red meat, wholegrains, wheatgerm and shellfish.

Vitamins – part 2

Monday, December 5th, 2011

Vitamins regulate a variety of essential bodily functions.  They are crucial in many of our metabolic processes so that we can benefit from the energy in our foods.  Vitamins are also very important in helping to build our bones, teeth, skin, blood and many other vital body tissues.

Vitamins are classified as either water soluble or fat soluble based on how they are absorbed and used by the body.

Following on from my last blog, this week we focus on the water soluble vitamins.

Water soluble (Vitamin C and all of the B vitamins): Water soluble vitamins are vitamins that our bodies do not  store. These vitamins dissolve in water when they are ingested, then go into the blood stream.

The body keeps what it needs at that time, and excess amounts are excreted in the urine. Since they can’t be stored, everybody needs a continuous supply of water soluble vitamins in order to stay healthy.

In this blog, we explain the why we need each water soluble vitamin and which foods are good sources of them.


Why do we need it?

Where do we find it?

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)

It is an antioxidant, increases our immunity, and is important to help our uptake of iron. It is also used in the production of collagen, which we need for healthy skin, hair, and the cartilage in our joints.

Many fruit and vegetables especially kiwi and citrus fruits, cranberries, guava, peppers, broccoli, sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts

(vitamin B1)

Important in the processing of carbohydrates to produce energy and other metabolism processes

Pork, wholegrain breads and brown rice, many fruits and vegetables, milk, cheese, eggs, fortified breakfast cereals.

(vitamin B2)

Keeps our skin and eyes healthy

Milk, eggs, fortified breakfast cereals, rice, mushrooms.

(vitamin B3)

Helps to process cholesterol, which should inhibit the likelihood of heart disease, as well as in the production of energy

Beef, pork, chicken, wheat flour, eggs, milk

Pantothenic Acid (vitamin B5)

Important in our metabolism processes, especially in the production of energy in cells.

Beef, chicken, potatoes, oats, tomatoes, liver, kidneys, eggs, broccoli, wholemeal bread, brown rice, some breakfast cereals

Vitamin B6

Important roles in the processing (metabolism) of proteins, fats and carbohydrates.

Fortified breakfast cereals, liver, pork, chicken, turkey, cod, wholemeal bread, brown rice, oatmeal, eggs, peanuts, some vegetables (potatoes, peppers, garlic), dried prunes and dried apricots

Folate, Folic Acid
(vitamin B9)

Important to ensure cell division works well, hence importance to pregnancy, where folate is also particularly crucial in the prevention of neural tube defects. Also important for red blood cell production .

Green vegetables (e.g. broccoli, spinach, sprouts, peas), fortified breakfast cereals, chick peas (humous), yeast extract (e.g. Marmite), brown rice, some fruit (oranges and bananas)

Vitamin B12

Similar to folate, as it is important to cell division, red blood cell production and also for functioning of nerves.

It originates in bacteria, yeast and microbes in soil. Plants can’t store it, so people get their B12 almost exclusively from meat, liver, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, yeast extract (e.g. Marmite)

(vitamin B7)

Important in our metabolism processes

Liver, kidney, eggs, dried fruits (e.g. prunes, apricots)

Vitamins – part 1

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Vitamins regulate a variety of essential bodily functions.  They are crucial in many of our metabolic processes so that we can benefit from the energy in our foods.  Vitamins are also very important in helping to build our bones, teeth, skin, blood and many other vital body tissues.

Vitamins are classified as either water soluble or fat soluble based on how they are absorbed and used by the body.

This week we focus on the fat soluble vitamins. Join us in two weeks to learn more about water soluble vitamins.  

Fat Soluble (Vitamins A, D, E and K): Fat soluble vitamins are those that are normally stored in the body.

When these vitamins are ingested, they dissolve in fat. In a person with a healthy digestive system, the body uses what it needs at that time and stores the rest for future use.

In this blog, we explain the why we need each fat soluble vitamin and which foods are good sources of them.


Why do we need it?

Where do we find it?

Vitamin A

It is important in helping with the moisturisation of our skin and mucous membranes (lining of the nose, eyes, throat).

Vitamin A also helps with night vision.

It is an antioxidant, which means that it protects against the effects of “free radicals” (unstable compounds that can damage healthy body cells).

Vitamin A also increases our immunity.

It is stored in our liver, so the liver of other animals is a rich source of vitamin A.

The animal source is known as retinol, and is also found in eggs, oily fish (e.g. mackerel), butter and milk.

The main plant source of vitamin A is known as beta-carotene and is found in orange/red fruit and vegetables (e.g. carrot, sweet potato, red pepper).


Vitamin D

Regulates and improves the uptake of calcium and phosphate in our bodies for healthy bones and teeth.

Important for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers to assist with the child’s bone development because babies can’t produce the vitamin D in their skin.

Sunlight (we make vitamin D in our skin), oily fish, liver, fortified products (e.g. breakfast cereal, margarine), eggs, baby milk formula.


Vitamin E

It helps to maintain our reproductive system, nerves and muscles.

Similar to vitamin A, vitamin E is also an antioxidant.

Nuts, seeds, plant oils (e.g. olive oil, corn oil), wheatgerm, some green leafy vegetables

Vitamin K

Important for helping our blood to clot properly (healing wounds) and in the formation of our bones and kidney tissues.

Green leafy vegetables (e.g. broccoli, spinach), vegetable oils, cereals. Small amounts in pork and cheese.

College students – healthy eating tips

Monday, October 10th, 2011

When you go to college or university it may be the first time you’ve lived away from home and been fully independent. To have enough energy to study and enjoy student life to the full you need to eat regularly and healthily!

What does a healthy balanced diet really mean?

  • Eat regularly and base your meals on starchy foods
  • Eat lots of fruit and vegetables
  • Eat a wide variety of foods
  • Try to eat less salt
  • Cut down on saturated fats and sugars
  • Get active and try to be a healthy weight
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Don’t skip breakfast

Get organised

  • With some planning you can eat cheap and healthy meals on a tight budget
  • Make a shopping list before you go and shop
  • Watch your waste – when you buy foods that go off quickly, plan your meals carefully so it gets eaten or frozen straight away
  • Vary your meals otherwise you will get bored of eating and cooking the same things over and over again

What could you have in your food cupboard?

You need to stock your cupboard and fridge with easy to cook ingredients. Suggestions of meals include:

  • Soups – easy to make and nutritious especially if you add a lot of vegetables (fresh, frozen or canned).
  • Pasta – it’s quick and easy to cook and prepare. Keep pasta sauces in your cupboards and add your own flavours, vegetables etc. to it
  • Rice – mix cooked rice with leftover vegetables and meat
  • Bread is a good source of carbohydrate. Choose wholemeal bread rather than white as it is more nutritious and filling.
  • Potatoes – Baking potatoes are great value and versatile.
  • Porridge oats – cheap and it’s a really filling meal to start the day with. You could add some fresh or dried fruit for variety.
  • Beans and lentils – cheap to buy and a small amount goes a long way! Canned varieties can make a quick and nutritious addition to soups and stews. Lentils and beans can be used as a main meal with vegetables added. Baked beans on toast is a classic and is actually a very healthy dish, especially if you use wholemeal bread, and low fat spread.
  • Vegetables and fruit – can add vegetables to curries, soups, stir fries. Canned and frozen vegetables can be used as additions to last minute meals. Fruit is excellent for a quick nutritious snack. We should be eating at least 5 pieces of fruit and vegetables per day.
  • Condiments – add taste and flavour to your cooking. Keep a selection of dried herbs, spices, curry powder, vinegars, tomato sauce, soy sauce and stock cubes in your cupboard.
  • Tinned tomatoes – these can form the base of all sorts of sauces, are low in fat and count as a portion of your fruit and vegetables.
  • Chicken – chicken seems to be of better value if you buy in larger quantities. If you’ve got a freezer you could chop it up and freeze it in small amounts.
  • Eggs – are easy to cook and versatile.
  • Canned fish – Mackerel, sardines and pilchards are good sources of protein and omega 3 fatty acids.
  • Milk – full of calcium and vitamins and is healthy drink at any time of the day. Choose semi-skimmed or skimmed milk for a lower fat option.


Eating for a Healthy Heart

Monday, July 18th, 2011
  • Eat fewer fried and fatty foods such as cream, butter, full-fat dairy products, fatty red meat, cakes, biscuits and takeaways – and find lower-fat alternatives instead.
  • If you have to use oil, go for one that is packed with monounsaturates such as olive oil or rapeseed oil.
  • Eat five servings of fruit and vegetables every day – they are low in fat and calories but will help to fill you up.
  • Go for high-fibre carbohydrates such as wholemeal bread, wholegrain cereals, brown rice and wholewheat pasta. They are far more filling than the white stuff.
  • Start your day with a bowl of porridge.
  • Use a little less meat in dishes like stews, soups and casseroles and add barley, lentils or beans instead.
  • Eat oily fish once a week. Lunch on sardines with toast or serve salmon for dinner.
  • Slash the salt content of your diet – check salt levels before you buy.
  • If you drink, stick to sensible limits – that means no more than 3-4 units a day for men and 2-3 units daily for women.