Eating and drinking well
Here at Wiltshire Farm Foods we want to help raise awareness of how to eat and drink well to help prevent malnutrition and dehydration in the community*. Generally, eating and drinking well consists of the following 3 key factors:
1. Eat the right amount of calories to match your activity level – if you consume too little calories via food and drinks, you will lose weight, and if you eat too many calories you will gain weight. Balancing your calorie intake and activity level will allow you to maintain your weight.
2. Ensure you drink enough to stay well hydrated.
3. Eat a wide variety of foods to ensure your diet provides all the nutrients you need for good health.
It is generally recommended that women should consume roughly 2,000 calories per day and men should consume roughly 2,500 calories per day to maintain their bodyweight. The NHS defines a healthy body weight as a body mass index (BMI) of between 18.5 and 25. To check your BMI, you can use the free NHS BMI calculator.
Eating for Good Health:
Alongside having a healthy BMI, it is important to consider healthy food choices for long-term health and well-being. The NHS has outlined which food groups best meet healthy eating guidelines using the Eat Well Guide. The eat well guide shows how much of each food group an individual should consume to achieve a balanced diet:
• Fruit and vegetables – due to their rich vitamin and mineral content, adults should aim to consume at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables per day. This can be from fresh, frozen or tinned sources, with one portion equal to 80g (3 heaped tablespoons). Dried fruit and fruit juice can also contribute a maximum of one portion each per day, but should not exceed 30g or 150ml respectively, as they are high in sugar.
• Starchy foods e.g. whole-wheat pasta, granary bread and potatoes with the skins left on. starchy foods provide us with carbohydrates, the main source of fuel for the body. Starchy foods should be the basis or most meals and make up over one third of diet. It is best to choose wholegrain versions as these are high in fibre.
• Dairy and dairy alternatives – this food group is an excellent source of protein, vitamin D and calcium which contribute to good bone health. Good examples include milk, yoghurt, and cheeses. Where possible, it is important to have lower fat and low sugar varieties of these products, such as semi-skimmed milk, low-fat yoghurt and reduced-fat cheese.
• Beans & pulses, fish, eggs and meat – these are excellent sources of high-quality protein, vitamins and minerals. When choosing meat, opt for leaner cuts and trim visible fat to reduce the saturated fat content. The NHS recommends reducing your intake of red or processed meats to 70g a day or less to reduce your risk of bowel cancer. It is also recommended to eat at least 2 portions of fish per week, especially oily fish such as salmon. Beans and pulses such as chickpeas are also a very good option as they are very rich in fibre and low in fat.
• Oils and spreads – although fat is required in the diet, oils and spreads should be used sparingly as they are very high in calories. Where possible, use unsaturated fats such as vegetable, olive and sunflower oils/spreads as these are healthier than saturated fats which typically come from animal sources.
• Foods high in fat, salt and sugar – chocolate, cakes, crisps and sugary drinks should be eaten rarely and in small amounts.
If you have a BMI below 18.5 or you are concerned that you may be at risk of losing weight and becoming malnourished, you should consult a Doctor or Registered Dietitian. To help prevent weight loss, it is sensible to increase the amount of calories you are consuming on a daily basis. Guidance on how to fortify your meals at home to increase their nutritional content and high energy, high protein snack suggestions can be found here. At Wiltshire Farm Foods we offer energy dense options, including our Mini Meals Extra range which contains 501-523 calories and a minimum of 20g of protein which can be useful for someone with a smaller appetite.
Staying Well Hydrated:
The body requires water for many of its basic functions and staying well hydrated has a whole host of benefits, including improved concentration, alertness and good muscle & joint function. It is commonly recommended that men consume 2000ml of fluids per day, and women consume 1600ml of fluids per day*. The simplest and cheapest way to ensure you stay well hydrated is to aim to drink 6-8 glasses of water per day. If you do not like drinking plain water, you could add some sugar free fruit squash, a slice of lemon, or try drinking sparkling water instead.
It is a common misconception that tea and coffee do not contribute to your fluid intake due to their caffeine content. Although caffeine can have a diuretic effect, caffeinated drinks do still contribute to your daily fluid intake. It is best to avoid having fizzy-drinks, energy drinks or hot drinks with added sugar as this can damage your teeth and provide unnecessary excess calories if you are trying to lose weight. If you have a sweet tooth, sweeteners are a safe alternative that can be added to hot drinks.
*Wiltshire Farm Foods content does not replace the advice of any registered Healthcare Professional and you should always seek the advice of your General Practitioner first. The guidelines in this article are for general health eating purposes and if you have any conditions that may require a specialised diet or fluid restriction then you must follow the advice of your dedicated Healthcare Professional.