Public Health England have shockingly revealed that children are consuming up to 500 excess calories per day. This is the equivalent to a startling extra meal a day! The health officials have warned that Britain needs to go on a diet. They are launching a plan to substantially cut calorie consumption by 20% by 2024. All retailers, manufacturers, restaurants, takeaway and other eating out establishments will need to undertake significant changes to meet the new lower calorie requirements. They will be targeting 13 different food groups including pizza, ready meals and takeaways, savoury snacks, and more. We need to start becoming more food savvy as a nation!
A separate initiative, the One You campaign has just launched and is aimed at adults as it is estimated that they consume 200 to 300 excess calories a day. The target of the campaign is for people to eat 400 calories for breakfast, 600 calories for lunch and 600 calories for dinner. This also includes leaving room for healthy snacks and drinks. A healthy balanced diet consists of 2,000 calories for women and 2,500 calories for men and the One You campaign falls in line with The Eatwell Guide. It’s important to become more conscious about healthy food habits and your calorie intake.
“Low activity levels and the shocking caloric content within our kid’s everyday life is slowly but surely killing Britain.”
James Shillaker, Director at Incorpore, who looks after 3 million of the UK’s largest employers, added: “In the UK we have successfully managed to shift the responsibility of child health away from parents and teachers to employees who are now inheriting these sugar and salt filled sedentary employees.”
The Eatwell Guide
If you are interested in learning what a recommended balanced diet looks like, The NHS Eatwell Guide highlights what people should eat from each food group for a healthy diet. They advise:
- Five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables should be eaten a day.
- Meals should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates. This is because starchy food should make up just over a third of the food we eat. Wholegrain options should be chosen where possible.
- Having dairy or dairy alternatives such as soya drinks and yoghurts. Try opting for lower-fat and lower-sugar options.
- Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other protein. Aim for at least two portions of fish every week, one of which is oily.
- Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and eat in small amounts.
- Eat foods high in fat, salt and sugar less often and in small amounts.
- Drink 6-8 cups/glasses of fluid a day, which can include water, low-fat milks, lower-sugar or sugar-free drinks including tea and coffee count.
Manage portion sizes
Monitoring food portions plays a significant part in maintaining a healthy weight. Weighing your food can help you to get an idea of your portion sizes and will help you when cooking. When you are dishing up your food try using smaller plates and bowls to make your portion sizes look bigger. If you live alone portion sizes can be tricky as most meals are designed for more than one person, however, you can package up extra portions to put in the fridge or freezer and have it on a separate occasion.
Check the packaging
Ready meals are one of the food groups targeted in the calorie plan. People rely on them when they are busy or as an easy dinner. If you do choose to have a ready meal, select one that isn’t high in fat, sugars and salt. Supermarkets do have low calorie ready meals that fit within the One You campaign calorie guidelines. These include the Waitrose ‘LoveLife’ range where the calories vary from around 230Kcal to 450Kcal or the Sainsbury’s ‘begood’ products which ranges from 270Kcal to 400Kcal. Regardless of any foods you purchase if you want to keep within the One You campaign aims, simply check the packaging of all foods you pick up and be food savvy about what you are eating.
Look for healthier ingredients
One of the aims of Public Health England’s initiative is to make foods healthier and promote healthier habits to fit in with the daily allowance of calories. Instead of purchasing food-to-go try making your own meals to ensure they are healthier. For example, with sandwiches you should use whole wheat bread instead of white bread, avocados instead of mayonnaise and chicken instead of red meats. Preparing your own meals will give you control over the ingredients included and allow you to use healthier ingredients.
Take your time to eat
Don’t rush when you are eating your meals as it takes your brain a few minutes to register if your body has had enough food. Take your time and eat slowly. Then you will be able to better understand when you feel full.
Don’t skip meals
A car cannot run without fuel and neither can people. Skipping meals can have a negative effect on your health! Thus increasing binge eating, lowering your energy levels, raising the risk of diabetes and impairing concentration. Your blood sugar will decrease when you skip a meal and impede your ability to think correctly. Low blood sugar can also cause you to be irritated, confused and fatigued. Skipping meals can lead to your metabolism slowing down. This means you could gain weight or it could become harder to shift it.