Today we heard in the news that children are eating over half of their sugar intake in breakfast cereals, at least 3 of the 6 cubes of their daily allowance. The debate from Piers Morgan was that his 3 sons had eaten sugary breakfast cereals for years and were very active and where fine.
This just demonstrates the confusion around nutrition messages when the media take one food group and blame the sugar crisis in childhood obesity on that one food or one nutrient group. No wonder the British public are confused and parents are unsure of what to feed their children let alone themselves.
Here are the facts on what a healthy diet looks like and how I feed my family:
- Make sure every meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner/tea) contain foods from the 3 foods
Carbohydrates – preferably high fibre
Protein – a mixed variety of meat, dairy, pulses, eggs, poultry, fish
Veg/salad/fruit – aiming for at least 5 fist size portions a day, ideally whole fruits and veg and no more than a 150ml serving of fruit juice.
- Snacks in-between meals should only be had if hungry and not because its snack time and should ideally be protein and produce i.e. hummus and carrot sticks, fruit yogurt (low fat), an apple and a milky sugar free drink like milky skinny coffee.
- Right sugar should be a very small part of our diets and sugary foods should be ‘treats’ not daily foods. Any food that taste sweet that is manmade is likely to contain sugar, irrespective of where the sugar has come from because if it has been processed from fruit or sugar cane once it has been processed and concentrated it becomes classed as a sugar and is harmful to health and teeth if over consumed. So, cakes, chocs, cereal bars, fruit bars, fruit sweets
- Drinks in-between meals should only be water or unflavoured milk or tea or coffee for adults without sugar. That means no vanilla lattes or choc-mocha whatever’s. If you see them putting syrup in then it’s sugar. Fruit juice once a day at meal times.
- Let’s talk about fats. So we still recommend low saturated fats, and high monounsaturates. Translated that means the overall fat in our diets should be kept low by avoiding regular intakes of fried foods i.e. not weekly. If fat is going to be used in cooking use olive or rapeseed oil and keep it to the minimum. If you can half the amount you use in cooking, then that is a great idea. What about coconut oil I hear you say, well coconut oil is high in saturated fat and so as with all saturated fats keep them to a minimum and if you can swap them for a monounsaturated fat.
- So, I wanted to mention eating out and take-aways as they have become a part/way of life in our fast-paced lives. Ideally home-made fresh ingredients are best, because we know what we are putting in. But let’s be real, life doesn’t always permit us to do that, so, my advice is it you are eating out regularly, make sensible choices. For example, you could order extra veg or salad with your meals, share courses with your children/partner, avoid desserts, choose water with your meals, have fewer courses, stop when you’re full and not over eat, or avoid the fried starters. Guys you are not missing out as eating out is no longer a treat if it is done monthly or weekly. Its become a weekly occurrence and hence the food choices need to reflect how you would eat at home – one course and no dessert and smaller portions.
I hope these 6 tips have helped clarify that it is not one food or one nutrient that is responsible or not for a healthy diet, but how we choose to eat a combination of foods and avoid foods that have become the norm when should be put back into the treat box as the word suggests ‘treat’.
So, for more information on how to meal plan or choose the right foods from each food group or for specific amounts I’ve popped a few helpful links down below or if you want bespoke or specific advice for you and your families health needs get in touch and we can have a complementary chat at firstname.lastname@example.org