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Healthy Eating is Fun

HEALTHY EATING IS FUN
Scrumptious food for all the family

Eating well isn’t difficult and it certainly isn’t boring. In fact, meals made with fresh, natural ingredients, such as plenty of fruit and veg, are far more varied and interesting than an endless round of burgers, chips and packaged meals.

It just involves making some different choices and emphasizing certain foods. Once you get started you’ll find the whole family really enjoys mealtimes, feel marvellous and want to continue.

You don’t have to search out strange ingredients or be a gourmet chef – simple fresh food is easy to prepare. And eating a healthy diet doesn’t mean starving yourself, which only leads to too much snacking. In fact, if you eat well and have regular meals you won’t need sugary snacks.

Make changes gradually and your family will find it easier to cope. For example, start by adding more vegetables to your meals and changing from white to wholemeal bread. Then you could switch from full cream to semi-skimmed milk and from butter to olive oil spread.

What to eat Fruit and vegetables – at least five servings a day and more if you can. Carbohydrate foods, particularly unrefined carbohydrates such as wholemeal bread and pasta, and brown or basmati rice Protein – meat, poultry fish and pulses. Cut the fat off meat and grill, don’t fry. Some fats – children under two need whole milk, but from two up, start to moderate fatty foods. Adults benefit from cutting down on saturated fats – choose skimmed or semi-skimmed milk, use yogurt or fromage frais instead of cream and opt for low-fat cheeses. Concentrate on good fats such as oily fish, vegetable oils, nuts and seeds.

Most important is to eat a wide variety of foods. Here are some ideas for dishes that are healthy, easy to prepare and mouth-wateringly tasty. The recipe ideas below contain foods that are rich in nutrients and help build a healthy body and a strong immune system.

Guacamole – mix mashed avocado, chopped tomato and spring onion with some lemon juice and black pepper. Serve with sticks of raw carrot, celery and cucumber or some oatcakes. Bean dips – whiz up some cooked or canned pulses with fresh herbs, garlic and a little yogurt, tahini or olive oil. Serve with sticks of fresh veg as above. Skinless chicken breasts, marinated in fresh herbs, yogurt and lemon juice and then grilled. Served with roast squash, red peppers, red onions and tomatoes. Crunchy salad – grated carrot, apple and celery, chopped pepper and watercress. Top with some toasted cashew nuts or pine nuts and sunflower seeds. Scrumptious soup – roast some red peppers, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and red onions until soft, then blend with vegetable stock to make a flavoursome and vitamin-packed soup. Veggie beans – sauté some chopped onions and garlic in olive oil, add a can of kidney or haricot beans, a can of plum tomatoes and some chopped vegetables – courgettes, cauliflower, mushrooms, whatever you like. Cook gently, stirring often, until the veg are cooked but still crunchy. Fish with tomato sauce. Make a fresh tomato sauce with a little onion and garlic and chopped plum tomatoes. Add some pieces of fish such as cod or salmon fillet and cook gently until the fish is cooked through Sprinkle with some parsley or chopped basil before serving. Mashed squash, pumpkin, celeriac or sweet potatoes make a delicious and healthy alternative to potatoes.

Super snacks
Instead of reaching for the biscuit tin or buying a chocolate bar, try these convenient but healthy snacks.

Fresh unsalted nuts such as almonds, brazils, walnuts Oatakes, crispbread or rice cakes with some nut butter Handful of toasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds Fresh fruit – apple, pear, peach, plums, grapes, orange Small bowl or pot of natural yogurt with fresh berries Homemade dip or hummus with some raw carrot or cucumber Handful of dates or other dried fruit

Stop adding salt
Too much salt is bad for everyone, including children. Never add salt to children’s food and check labels of packaged food for added salt.

Your children are at particular risk of having too much salt. Young kidneys can’t cope with a heavy salt load and when children start their lives exposed to a high-salt diet, blood pressure problems in later life inevitably follow. In countries with a low salt intake, there’s no rise in blood pressure with age.

Salt intake should be kept to less than 3 grams a day for 4 to 6 year olds, 5 grams a day for 7 to 10 year olds, and 6 grams a day for 11 year olds and up.

ARE YOU DRINKING ENOUGH?
Adults need to drink at least 6-8 large glasses of fluid a day. Water is best but fruit juice, low fat milk and a few cups of tea a day is fine too – the body doesn’t differentiate between one sort of liquid and another. Here are some other ideas for delicious drinks.

If you prefer warm drinks, especially in winter, drink herb or fruit teas. There’s a huge range. A little fresh ginger root and a squeeze of lemon in hot water makes a tasty warm drink. If you have a juicer, make your own fresh juices. Try combinations such as carrot, celery and apple; pear and apple; blueberry and peach. A fruit smoothie makes an ideal quick breakfast. Whiz up a couple of handfuls of fruit such as strawberries, mangoes, raspberries or apricots, with some yogurt and milk. Add a spoonful of sunflower seeds to make your breakfast even more nutritious. Avoid fizzy drinks – they’re full of sugar and do you no good at all. If you’re a coffee lover, try to limit yourself to one cup a day. Too much caffeine is bad for the body and can increase stress levels and interfere with sleep patterns. Limit your alcohol intake. Keep below recommended levels of 21 units a week for men and 14 for women and don’t binge drink. Make sure you have at lest some alcohol free days every week.

Drinks for children
For children over two, semi-skimmed milk is fine. Children don’t need more than a pint a day.

Squashed and fizzy drinks are high in sugar so not good for your children’s health or teeth. Fruit juice is fine but best given at meal times – try diluting fruit juice with water so it’s not so concentrated.

Check fruit juice packs carefully. Those labelled juice drinks usually contain lots of sugar and very little actual fruit juice.

Superfoods
These are some of the best foods to eat. All contain high levels of essential vitamins and minerals which boost your immune system and help build a healthy body

Avocados
Contain vitamins B1, B6 and E as well as potassium, magnesium and healthy fatty acids that help regulate cholesterol levels. A good first food for babies.

Broccoli
Contains lots of calcium, vitamins C, A and E and also a great source of antioxidants. Broccoli is also one of the richest food sources of the trace metal chromium, which attacks insulin resistance and helps normalize blood sugar.

Tomatoes
Good source of vitamin C and flavonoids. Also contain the antioxidant lycopene, which helps protect against heart disease.

Carrots
Contain carotenoids, which protect against cancer, as do all orange foods. Eat carrots every day.

Berries
All berries are rich in vitamin C and the darker the berry, the more antioxidants it has. Both blueberries and cranberries help ward off urinary tract infections.

Red onions
Contain folic acid, B6 and potassium as well as flavonoids to help reduce risk of heart disease. Also helps regulate cholesterol levels.

Citrus fruits
Oranges contain lots of antioxidants as well as vitamin C. One grapefruit contains your daily requirement of vitamin C. Eat the pith too – the soluble fibre lowers cholesterol and contains folic acid and bioflavonoids that keep cancer at bay.

Spinach and cabbage
Leafy green veg like these are high in antioxidants and help protect against same forms of cancer.

SUPPLEMENTS
The human body needs vitamins, minerals and other nutrients and these are best supplied by the food we eat, rather than in tablets. There are occasions though when certain supplements can be helpful for some people. Here are some examples.

Acidophilus
Acidophilus is taken by some people to prevent digestive problems and treat vaginal and other infections. It is thought to increase beneficial bacteria in the body, reduce flatulence and bloating and boost the immune system.

Colostrum
Natural colostrum is the pre-milk produced by a mother within 48 hours of giving birth. It is a baby’s first food and a valuable source of antibodies and nutrients. Colostrum supplement comes from cows and some experts believe it may help in the treatment of some forms of diarrhoea and in stimulating muscle growth.

Fish oil
Oily fish contains essential fatty acids, which the body really needs. If you don’t like eating fish, take cod liver oil supplements to boost your levels of these essential nutrients.

Folic acid
Women attempting pregnancy or already pregnant should take 400 micrograms per day up to the twelfth week of pregnancy. This is over and above the 200 micrograms assumed to be obtained from their diet.

Vitamins A and D
Children between 6 months and 5 years should take these as supplements if there is any doubt as to whether they are obtaining them from their diet.

Gingko biloba
Some people find this supplement helpful for improving memory.

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