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A lot of the top chefs like Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsey and Anjum Anand are encouraging people to eat affordable, healthy food. A healthy diet can help improve your concentration, lift your mood and give you more energy.
Here are some common myths about healthy eating. Guess what? Far from being a chore and boring, healthy eating can actually be fun and very rewarding.
Isn’t healthy food expensive? There are loads of great healthy recipes, both on the web and in cook books, that won’t break the bank. Here are a few pointers to get you started:
• Buy local food that is in season (i.e. is grown/produced at a specific time of year)
• If you don’t buy or cook your own meals at home, ask your parent or carer to consider buying local, seasonal food (ask in your local shop or supermarket)
• Cook batches of food like chilli, pasta, curries etc… and freeze them. You can then take them to school, college or work rather than buying lunch.
• Your school or college can help provide low cost, healthy meals. Ask your teachers if you are part of the Healthy Schools Programme.
Missing breakfast helps you lose weight! People who skip breakfast are more likely to snack on high-sugar foods later in the day. Their bodies have gone without food since the evening meal the day before.
I’m too young to worry about how much salt & fat I eat. You don’t need to look at every food packet label, but try to eat a variety of foods each week; different vegetables, fruits, meat, fish (and the odd treat too!). Variety is the spice of life.
I’ve heard the processed, pre-packed foods aren’t very healthy. This isn’t always true. Things like frozen veg and fish can actually be really healthy. They are frozen just after they are picked/caught, which locks in a lot of the nutrients.
• Choose whole-meal or whole-grain bread for your toast and use a low-fat margarine or spread
• If you eat cereal, choose ones with whole-grain (the packet should tell you). This will boost your fibre intake
• If you regularly eat sandwiches for lunch, why not look out for reduced fat cheese, tinned tuna in water (avoid brine as it is saltier) and use whole-meal or whole-grain bread. Some bread companies even make brown bread that looks and tastes like white!
• Pasta is great option for lunch as it’s a ‘slow release’ food. This means that it releases energy more slowly – helping to keep you going through the afternoon.
• Why not try veggie versions of your favourite dishes like lasagne, curries or pizza?
• Stir-fry is the ultimate fast food. You’ll find loads of recipes online or in recipe books. For starters, why not try prawns, green beans, bean sprouts, red onion, chilli and a dash of lime juice.
• If you’ve got a sweet tooth, why not substitute the chocolate bar or crisps for a low fat yogurt, a small bowl of whole-grain cereal with semi-skimmed or skimmed milk, or a fruit scone.
• Fruit smoothies are all the rage and can count towards your five-a-day. If you make them yourself, add a dash of semi-skimmed or skimmed milk
If you think about what you are eating all the time, or you want to talk to someone about your weight, try one of these options:
• Visit your doctor, school nurse, or ring NHS Direct on 0845 46 47
• If you don’t want to see a doctor or nurse, you can talk to
SHINE (Self Help Independence Nutrition Exercise). This is an independent organisation that aims to help overweight young people and their parents. Contact SHINE on 0114 283 5803 or visit their website
• If you are worried that you may have an eating disorder, B-EAT (the Eating Disorders Association) may be able to help. Visit the B-EAT website for more information.