When it comes to food, one thing’s for sure, there’s never been so much choice. So if you’re finding it hard figuring out what’s what – but want to make some good choices – then this section could be for you.
We use these words quite often but what do they mean? If you look them up online you’ll find they generally refer to highly processed foods: for example burgers, that are prepared quickly or are available on demand. These foods are often bought in fast- food restaurants.
Should I be eating fast foods?
Eating healthily isn’t about cutting out all processed foods, but about getting a balance of foods in your diet. So if you eat these foods less than once a week you needn’t worry. But if you eat these foods several times a week then you need to think carefully about the choices you make.
Can you make better choices in a fast-food restaurant?
More burger and pizza chains are beginning to explore what healthier options they can offer to customers in their restaurants. Several now offer details of the nutritional composition of their products, which allow you to browse and choose more sensibly.
If you are watching your weight or want to eat healthily, the following guide might help you make a better choice.
- Milk, fruit juice, water and sugar-free diet drinks
- Deli sandwiches
- Grilled chicken
- Smaller portions
- Low-fat dressings – say no to mayo
- Hot drinks like regular coffee and tea with low fat milk
- Fries (especially thinly cut fries as these tend to absorb more fat)
- Thick milkshakes and regular fizzy drinks
- Large portions – go for regular size
- Fried foods
- Pies and pastries
Try choosing before you go:
- Check out the nutrition information on the McDonalds UK site
- Check out the nutritional information on the Burger King UK site
- Check out the dietary information on the Pizza Hut website
- Check out nutritional information on the Kentucky Fried Chicken site (American site)
- Click on your favourite menu item on the Subway site
Try limiting your fast food eating to just once or twice a week.
It’s OK To Snack
Yes it really is OK to snack – so long as you maintain a healthy balance of foods and keep yourself active.
Why? Because snacks can provide an important contribution to your daily intake of energy, vitamins and minerals.
They help keep you going through the day especially if it’s a long time between breakfast and lunch and lunch and your evening meal.
They help you to refuel after exercise, like gym, games or after school activities.
Teenagers have high energy needs especially if they are growing quickly and it might be difficult to meet these needs from meals alone.
What is a Sensible Snacking Routine?
Most people eat between meals. But if you want to ensure you balance your energy intake against what you are burning up it makes sense to follow these practical tips:
- Plan to have healthy snacks at regular times, rather than snacking at anytime of day.
- Try not to snack in the hour before a mealtime.
- Plan what you are going to have.
- Try to have a variety of different snacks rather than relying on one type of food.
- Check out more satisfying snacks that fill you up, like wholegrain cereal bars, fruit and nuts, a pot of rice pudding.
- Keep a few “grab and go” snacks (see below) at home so that you can take these with you to school, college or work.
- Save cash – don’t rely on vending machines and tuck shops all the time.
Remember snacking shouldn’t be about just grabbing anything at anytime. Get into good habits of healthy snacks at regular times. Try some of the ideas below:
Good Ideas for Snacks
- Bowl of cereal with milk
- Toast with peanut butter
- Vegetable sticks with dips
- Houmous and pitta fingers
- Glass of milk
- Fruit smoothie
- Bowl of vegetable soup
- Beans on toast
- Toasted English muffin
- Homemade popcorn
- Toasted bagel or crumpet
- Bowl of instant oats
- Oatcakes, digestives or crackers
- Small (matchbox sized) chunk of cheese
Grab and Go Snacks
- Cereal and breakfast bars
- Fresh or dried fruit – there’s so many to choose from!
- Mixed nuts.
- Sliced fruit or malt loaf.
- Hot cross bun.
What About Crisps, Chocolate and Sweets?
It’s OK to include a small amount of these foods. The important thing is to get the overall balance right. It’s a good idea to eat smaller portions like small bags of crisps and fun sized chocolate bars, chocolate mini rolls, chocolate covered biscuits and mini doughnuts. If you buy larger portions try cutting them in half or sharing with a friend.
Your body needs fluids to keep it hydrated. This means drinking around 6-8 glasses, cups or mugs of fluid each day – more if it’s hot or you’re very active. Drinking plenty helps you to concentrate, and can help you keep your bowels regular. When you’re thirsty your brain’s ability to work properly can be cut by as much as 10%!
All fluid we eat or drink counts towards our requirements. This includes: water, smoothies, fruit juice, hot drinks like tea and coffee, squash and fizzy drinks (choose diet or sugar free if you are concerned about your weight and/or teeth) milk (go for skimmed or semi-skimmed if trying to lose weight) even other fluids like gravy and yoghurts add to the amount of fluid we drink in a day.
Are You Dehydrated?
You can check out whether you are dehydrated or not just by checking the colour of your urine when you go to the toilet. The darker the colour the more dehydrated you are. Just being dehydrated by 2% can lead to a reduction in sporting performance and concentration.
If you drink alcohol, it’s important to choose wisely. Regular drinking, even in small amounts can contribute to weight gain. Avoid excess alcohol and binge drinking as this can seriously affect your health.
Men shouldn’t drink more that 3-4 units a day.
Women shouldn’t drink more than 2-3 units a day.
Remember the legal drinking age in the UK and ROI is 18.
What is a unit?
A unit is:
- An old 125 ml pub measure of wine – 9% ABV (alcohol by volume) but many wines are 11 or 12% ABV and glasses are usually larger. A typical 175ml glass usually works out as 2 units.
- Just over ½ a bottle of lager – a full 330 ml bottle at 5% ABV can be about 1.7 units.
- Just over ½ a 330 ml bottle of an alcopop (5% ABV) a full bottle is 1.7 units.
- A 25 ml pub measure of spirits (40% ABV).
- A half pint of ordinary strength beer (3.5 ABV).
Don’t be fooled – lots of drinks have higher ABVs than standard examples. And if you are pouring your own drink you are likely to get more in the glass than a normal pub measure.
If you want to, you can work out how many units there are in a drink by using the following calculation:
To work out how many units there are in bottle/can of drink: Multiply the %ABV by the amount of the drink in millilitres. Then divide by 1000.
Did you know?
Weight for weight alcohol provides more energy (calories) than the same amount of sugar.
- Young people get drunk on less alcohol than adults do.
- If you’re an inexperienced drinker it takes less alcohol to get seriously ill.
- Alcohol is a kind of poison or toxin.
Over recent years, school meals have attracted a lot of public and media attention. Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s interest in the quality of school meals led to significant changes being made to school meal standards.
Government, schools, pupils and parents now recognise the value of healthy school meals, and some improvements have been made. Teachers also try to involve teenagers more in school food through school councils and personal, health and social education lessons.
Why Is This Important?
The mid-day meal, whether a school meal, packed lunch, meal eaten at home or bought on the high street should provide around one third of your nutritional intake of energy, vitamins and minerals.
The mid-day meal is important in refueling and helps you concentrate during the rest of the school day.
Meals eaten at school should reflect the healthy eating messages you get in other lessons such as food technology and PHSE.
Schools meals should provide a range of foods that allow you to balance your overall eating by making healthy choices and introducing you to new foods.
So What Are Secondary Schools Doing About This?
Most schools are re-thinking the food they offer, perhaps under new schemes like the National Healthy Schools programme or ”hungry for success” in Scotland. This means that schools try to make sure that they provide students with opportunities not only to eat healthily but also to be physically active, as well as learn about nutrition and other aspects of health and well being.
What Can I Do?
If you are interested in helping your school to provide healthier food choices why not speak to your form tutor. He or she should be able to tell you more about what’s going on in your school and advise you how you and your friends might be able to help. This might be through a school council or by finding out more about student views.
If you are unhappy with the food that’s on offer now, a short-term solution might be to take a packed lunch or your own snacks to school with you.
What About Vending Machines?
Vending machines can provide a significant amount of income for schools, so it’s unlikely they will go away. Most schools have changed the types of food available in their vending machines, removing foods high in fat, salt and sugar, replacing them with healthier alternatives.
Whether you are at school or college, or in a full or part-time job, you will need to fuel up during the day. There may be a canteen or cafe nearby. But making your own packed lunch offers lots of advantages:
You’re more in control of what you eat, especially if you don’t like what’s normally on the menu or it’s too tempting to eat the wrong balance of foods.
In summer you can choose to eat your packed lunch outside in the sunshine.
A packed lunch offers you flexibility especially if there are lunchtime activities you want to go to. So there’s no more standing in endless queues waiting to get served, leaving more of your lunch break to do other things.
- Think about the set up at school, college or work: For most, packed lunches are a cold meal but if you have started work you might have access to a kitchen, kettle, microwave or toaster.
- In winter you can always take hot soup in a flask.
- Think about how you are going to transport your packed lunch and invest in a good insulated carrier. A small re-freezable ice pack is a good idea to keep your food cool in summer.
What To Put In Your Packed Lunch?
Try to base your packed lunch on the Eatwell Guide by trying to include foods from the four main food groups:
- Bread, potatoes, breakfast and other cereals
- Fruit and vegetables
- Milk and dairy foods
- Meat, fish, eggs, beans, pulses and nuts
- Foods high in fat and/or sugar
Remember to pack a drink.
Suitable drinks include water, fruit smoothies, sugar-free squash or fruit juice.
Being vegetarian means different things to different people.
Some people just avoid red meat but still eat white meat like chicken or fish. This is called semi-vegetarian. Others avoid all meat and fish but still enjoy eggs, milk and cheese and other dairy products. This is called lacto-ovo-vegetarian. Vegans however avoid any animal products such as meat and eggs and may even avoid animal products like leather in the shoes they buy.
How Many Young People Are Vegetarian?
According to statistics from the Food Standards Agency (2000) and a survey of students in full time education (JMA 2000):
Teenagers 15-18 years
10% of girls are either vegetarian or vegan.
1% of boys are either vegetarian or vegan.
Students aged 17 to 24
8% are vegetarian (4% male, 11% female).
1% are vegan.
18% do not eat red meat.
Are There Any Benefits?
There can be health benefits to being a vegetarian especially if you eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, wholegrains and eat seeds, pulses or nuts daily. All of these foods are rich in phytonutrients (antioxidants) as well as fibre which help to protect the body from illnesses such as cancer and heart disease. If you aren’t vegetarian then you will also benefit from making these foods part of your usual balanced diet.
Are There Any Problems With Becoming A Vegetarian?
Whatever type of vegetarian you are, or are thinking of becoming, you need to ensure you get all the nutrients your body needs. In general terms the more foods you cut out of your diet the more careful you have to be to ensure that you include other foods that contain similar nutrients.
Alternatives To Meat
It is especially important if you are vegetarian to get your protein, iron and zinc from sources other than meat. Choose from the foods listed below:
- Soya based foods including tofu
- Beans, lentils and chick peas
- Seeds, nuts and nut butters (like peanut butter)
If you eat these foods as well as cereal foods (such as wholemeal bread, rice, pasta) together this will give you a good mix of proteins – equivalent to those found in meat.
Some vegetarians still eat eggs, milk and fish. These provide a more complete form of protein equivalent to that in meat.
Foods That Contain Iron
Iron is needed to keep your blood healthy so that it can carry enough oxygen around your body.
If you don’t eat enough iron containing foods you risk developing a condition called iron deficiency anaemia. This makes you feel tired all the time. Girls are more likely to get anaemia than boys because they have higher iron needs.
Good vegetarian sources of iron include wholegrain cereals and breads, Breakfast cereals with added vitamins and minerals, leafy-green vegetables, pulses such as lentils, baked beans and kidney beans, and some dried fruits.
Your body will work hard to get as much iron into your blood as it needs. You can help more iron get into your body by eating these plant sources of iron and making sure you have a good amount of vitamin C in your diet too. Vitamin C helps the cells take up iron. Vitamin C can be found in fruits, some vegetables and potatoes.
Good Sources Of Calcium
Dairy foods (milk, cheese, yoghurt) are normally key to getting a good calcium intake and usually provide about 55% of the calcium consumed by vegetarians and non-vegetarians.
If you are a vegan and avoid dairy foods you need to ensure that you keep your calcium intake up. The growing years, and up to age 25, are when your calcium needs are really high. This is because, as you grow and mature, your body is banking a lot of calcium in your bones to help make and keep them strong.
Try these calcium-providing alternatives to dairy foods:
- Calcium fortified soya milk and soya yogurts and puddings (aim for 2 to 3 servings a day if you don’t eat dairy foods)
- Calcium fortified orange juice
- Dried figs
- Green leafy vegetables
- Nuts and seeds (especially sesame seeds)
- Canned pilchards, sardines and salmon (if you eat fish)
We normally get all our vitamin D from sunlight. The strong rays from the sun make vitamin D in our skin. But this only happens during the spring and summer months. Luckily we store this vitamin D and use the store up during the winter.
Vitamin D is needed for healthy bones because it helps your body to absorb calcium. A lack of vitamin D can cause your bones to be softer and bend – this is called rickets.
Margarines, spreads and some breakfast cereals contain added vitamin D. Oily fish such as mackerel, salmon and sardines naturally contain it (if you eat fish). Cheese and eggs provide some too. Try to include these foods regularly. If you feel you don’t, or if any of the following apply to you, then it is wise to take a supplement that contains vitamin D, especially during the winter months. Talk to your local pharmacist or doctor if you are unsure.You need to be careful to have more vitamin D in your diet, or from supplements if you don’t go out very often or have to cover your skin from the sun. People with darker skins or people living in the far north of Scotland may also need more dietary vitamin D. Also if you are pregnant – because growing babies need lots of vitamin D as well.
Vitamin B2 and B12
Vitamin B12 is only naturally found in foods of animal origin, such as dairy foods and meat. Aim to include fortified breakfast cereals, soya milk and foods with added vitamin B12 and yeast extracts like Marmite, Vegemite or Vecon regularly. If you don’t like any of these, then it is a good idea to take a one a day multivitamin and mineral supplement.
Taking a supplement is also a good idea if you are new to and still getting used to planning and choosing a vegetarian diet – it can provide the reassurance that you are getting the vitamins and minerals you need while you learn more about being vegetarian.
Milk and fish are our main sources of iodine. Vegans can get iodine from iodised salt, seaweed, or the yeast extract Vecon.
If you are considering becoming a vegetarian check out our healthy vegetarian recipes.
Labels on foods provide information to help you to know just what you are buying. They can help you to choose between different types of the same food, and different brand names.
Manufacturers have a legal requirement to provide much of this information. Some additional information is provided voluntarily.
Information which has to be provided by law:
- Name of the food
- Weight or volume (unless it is under 5g)
- Ingredients (in descending order, most abundant first)
- Date mark and storage conditions
- Preparation instructions
- Name and address of manufacturer, packer or seller
- Place (country) of origin
Many food labels have nutrition information on them. This can help you to find out the amount of different nutrients in your food, for example how much salt is in your bag of crisps. You can compare brands and choose the one you think is better.
At the moment food manufacturers are not obliged by law to give nutrition information unless they make a nutrition claim, e.g. ‘low fat’ or ‘high fibre’, but if they do, they must follow certain rules.
The energy value of the food must be presented in kilojoules (kJ) and kilocalories (kcal). We usually refer to kilocalories as calories.
The amount of protein, carbohydrate and fat in grams (g) must be provided. This is referred to as the Big 4.
- Energy (kJ and kcal)
- Protein (g)
- Carbohydrate (g)
- Fat (g)
In addition, the amounts of sugars, saturated fats, fibre and sodium (and how much salt that is equivalent to) may also be given. This is referred to as the Little 4.
Big 4 and Little 4
- Energy (kJ and kcal)
- Protein (g)
- Carbohydrate (g)
- of which: sugars (g)
- Fat (g)
- of which: saturates (g)
- Fibre (g)
- Sodium (mg)
Using Nutrition Information
There are different ways you can use nutrition information to understand more about how a food fits into a healthy diet. You can do simple checks to see if a food is high, low or moderate in fat, sugar or salt. Or you can make use of Guideline Daily Amounts, which are often found on food labels. Or you can use a bit of both. It really depends on what you find most helpful. Some foods now display information about their fat, sugar, salt and fibre content on the front of their packaging.
How do I know if a food is high in fat?
Look at the label to see how much fat a food contains. Generally the label will say how many grams (g) of fat there are in 100g of the food.
Some foods also give a figure for saturated fat, or ‘saturates’. Use the following as a guide to what is a lot and what is a little fat per 100g of food.
This is A LOT of fat:
20g fat or more per 100g
5g saturates or more per 100g
This is A LITTLE fat:
3g fat or less per 100g
1g saturates or less per 100g
If the amount of total fat is between 3g and 20g per 100g, this is a moderate amount of total fat. Between 1g and 5g of saturates is a moderate amount of saturated fat.
Try to choose more foods that only contain a little fat (3g fat or less per 100g) and cut down on foods that contain a lot of fat (20g fat or more per 100g).
How do I know if a food is high in added sugar?
Take a look at the label. The ingredients list always starts with the biggest ingredient first.
But watch out for other words used to describe added sugar, such as sucrose, glucose, fructose, maltose, hydrolysed starch and invert sugar, corn syrup and honey. If you see one of these near the top of the list, you know the food is likely to be high in added sugars.
Another way to get an idea of how much sugar is in a food is to have a look for the ‘carbohydrates (of which sugars)’ figure on the label. But this figure can’t tell you how much is from added sugars, which is the type we should try to cut down on.
10g sugars or more per 100g is A LOT of sugar
2g sugars or less per 100g is A LITTLE sugar
If the amount of sugars is between 2g and 10g per 100g, this is a moderate amount.
Sometimes you will only see a figure for total ‘Carbohydrates’, not for ‘Carbohydrates (of which sugars)’, which means the figure also includes the carbohydrate from starchy foods.
How do I know if a food is high in salt?
Salt is often listed as sodium on food labels.
To get the amount of salt in a food multiply the amount of sodium by 2.5 Salt (g) = sodium x 2.5.
Use the following as a guide to what is a lot and what is a little salt (or sodium) per 100g food.
This is A LOT of salt:
1.25g salt or more per 100g
0.5g sodium or more per 100g
This is A LITTLE salt:
0.25g salt or less per 100g
0.1g sodium or less per 100g
Remember we should be aiming for less than 6g of salt each day. Find out more about salt by visiting www.salt.gov.uk.
Manufacturers are not allowed to state or imply that a food can prevent, treat or cure a disease, such as heart disease. However, they may say that the food can have some kind of benefit to health, e.g. “helps maintain a healthy heart” or “calcium is needed for strong bones and teeth” provided there is good scientific evidence to support this claim. If manufacturers make this type of claim, they must be able to prove that the food contains a reasonable amount of the nutrient or food component in question. Foods that make health claims should not mislead the public.
Guideline Daily Amounts
Some labels provide information on Guideline Daily Amounts (GDAs) for adults. GDAs are guidelines for the approximate amounts of energy (calories), fat, saturated fat, sugar, fibre and salt that can be eaten for a healthy diet. For example, you can check the amount of salt in a product to see how much it contributes to the recommended limit for daily salt intake. Because we have different nutritional needs at different stages of our life, GDAs are different for males and females of different ages. The GDAs below are for teenagers. But when you look at food labels, they usually refer to one average set of GDAs for adults. However, these are still a good guide for you to use.
As well as appearing in the ingredient list, some foods which are known to cause allergy may be listed again in a box or highlighted in some way to draw attention to their presence, e.g. this product contains MILK.
Some products carry ‘may contain’ warnings on labels to highlight that the food may contain small traces of foods known to cause allergy. This may be because the food is produced on the same production line or in the same factory as other products that contain the food known to cause allergy.
Detailed information (e.g. ‘produced in a factory where nuts are also used’) is more helpful to people with food allergies. It allows them to make informed decisions about the foods they eat.
Organic Foods – What Are These?
Organic refers to foods which have generally been produced according to organic farming methods that work with our environment.. They are foods from plants and animals that have been raised without the use of synthetic or non-approved fertilizers or pesticides, and without the routine use of antibiotics or medicines. They also don’t involve genetic modification (GM).
Food products need to get permission, and follow strict laws, to be labeled organic.
Starting Out On Your Own
Need To Buy Quick, Cheap, Healthy and Easy Food?
Moving into your own place leaves you with lots of things to think about and little money to play around with. Healthy eating needn’t cost loads.
Things to consider to make your money go further:
- Try planning ahead – think about what you might eat during the week.
- How much you are going to spend on food – include eating out, take-aways, sandwiches.
- What equipment do you have? Micro-wave, freezer or basic equipment like knives or pans?
- Your skills – what can you cook?
- If you haven’t done much cooking before ask your friends or family for some easy recipes or check out the ones on this site
- Make a shopping list – you’ll be less likely to buy foods that you don’t need.
- Double up – buy or cook with friends. It means you can take advantage of offers like buy one get one free.
- How much space do you have to store food? Can you make room to store value packs?
While shopping make the most of the following:
- Supermarket own-label economy brands.
- Special offers.
- Spread the cost of buying everyday foods – tea, coffee, pasta, rice, etc over different weeks. Share bigger packs with flatmates.
- Get a supermarket loyalty card and get money back on your shopping.
- Buy fresh food as you need it – extra will only be wasted. Remember canned and frozen fruit and veg count towards your 5 a day!
- Food markets or fruit and veg stalls are often cheaper.
- Got a freezer? Freeze food on special offer or extra portions of home-cooked meals like Bolognese, stews or chilli.
- Sometimes you can pick up bargains towards closing time in supermarkets.
How To Make Your Meals Healthy On A Budget
Base your meals on pasta, rice, potatoes, chapatti, bread, noodles etc. These provide energy and are cheap, filling options.
Add one or two vegetables, salad items or fruits (fresh, canned, frozen, dried and juices all count). Include a small portion (75- 120g) of meat, fish, eggs, chicken, turkey, lentils or beans.
Why not try:
- Replacing ½ the meat/mince in stews, chilli, Bolognese, casseroles with beans, peas, pulses (e.g. lentils, canned kidney beans and chickpeas).
- Canned fish – it makes great fillings for baked potatoes or pasta dishes or use in a fish pie or salad.
- Eggs – scrambled, boiled or made into an omelette.
- Using meat, chicken, fish on special offer.
Include 2-3 portions of dairy products each day (e.g. a glass of low-fat milk, low-fat yoghurt or a matchbox sized piece of cheese).
Quick and Easy Meals
Want something you can have in a hurry? Why not try:
- Jacket potato or toast with cheese, tuna, salmon or beans.
- Breakfast cereal with milk and a glass of fruit juice – it’s a good choice anytime. Try adding dried fruit or chopped banana. Why not try making a filling bowl of porridge?
- Omelette or scrambled eggs with toast. Add mushrooms or tomato.
- Boiled pasta with added vegetables (e.g. frozen peas, sweetcorn), canned tuna and a small jar of a tomato-based pasta sauce or a spoon of pesto.
- Grilled fish fingers, boiled potatoes and canned sweetcorn.
Can’t Cook Or Won’t Cook?
Need help to improve your practical food skills? Check out local cooking courses at nearby colleges, schools and community centres.
We all enjoy the convenience and pleasure of eating out with friends and this doesn’t have to be bad news nutritionally either.
Getting the balance right is important, especially if you eat out more than once a week.
Here are some tips to help you choose wisely.
- Make foods such as rice, bread, pasta, chapatti, naan and noodles part of your meal.
- Remember to include fruit or vegetables.
- Limit foods high in fat (e.g. creamy sauces, fried foods, pastry) and added sugar (puddings and desserts).
- Check out restaurant websites for nutritional information before you go.
- Know when enough is enough! Never be afraid to leave what you don’t want and if you have a small appetite, ask for a smaller portion.
- If the restaurant has nothing you fancy, ask for what you want – most places are happy to do this (within reason!).
- Give the fizzy drinks and thick milkshakes a miss and opt for water, fresh fruit juice, ice-cold semi-skimmed milk or a plain tea or coffee.
- Keep the size of your burger and fries small. Share larger portions of fries with a friend.
- Try out healthier options including deli sandwiches, grilled chicken and salads.
- Ask for dressings ‘on the side’.
- Finish your meal with a fruit bag or fruit and yogurt.
At the Pizza Restaurant
- Salad bowl and opt for low-calorie dressing.
- Pasta with tomato-based sauces.
- Your own pizza – pile up a plain pizza base with vegetable toppings. Add in chicken or fish for more variety.
- Fruit-based puddings e.g. fresh fruit salad, or ice creams and sorbets.
- The “light” pizza if available or ask for half the cheese.
- Sausage, pepperoni, salami and thick cheesy type toppings on pizza.
- Creamy sauces on pasta.
Food on the High Street
- Rolls, wraps, sandwiches and fruit.
- Salad and grilled items.
- Sausage rolls, pasties and pies.
- Fried foods.
- Oily dressings, mayonnaise and thickly spread butter or margarine.
- Fish and chips are high in fat – add mushy peas or beans, share the chips with a friend and leave some of the batter.
- Have chicken and chips but trim the chicken skin.
- Try donner kebabs with small portions of meat and top up with extra salad – skip the oily dressing, and just go for lemon juice or chilli sauce for a tangy taste.
- Have jacket potatoes with nutritious fillings such as baked beans, houmous, cottage cheese, tuna and sweetcorn but hold the butter and the mayo.
At the Chinese
- Chicken and sweetcorn soup.
- Beef, chicken, prawn or bean curd with green peppers or in black bean sauce.
- Dishes with lots of vegetables such as chow mein or vegetable stir fry.
- Boiled/steamed rice or noodles.
- Prawn crackers, pancake rolls and sweet and sour pork balls as they absorb loads of fat.
- Crispy duck – the skin is high in fat.
- Fried rice or noodles.
- Soy sauce – like many other Chinese foods it’s high in salt.
Sharing a few dishes is a great way to enjoy the variety of flavours, especially if you can try something new.
- Dishes such as rogan josh, bhuna, saag, jalfrezi, dhansak (with lentils) or a dry dish such as tandoori.
- Basmati rice, Chapatti.
- Masala, korma and pasanda as they contain a lot of cream and fat.
- Popadums, parathas.
- Deep fried foods such as onion bhajis.
So often we eat out at the cinema out of habit and not because we are hungry. Why not eat before you go so you’re less tempted to nibble, or share a small carton of popcorn with a friend. For a different snack take a packet of dried fruit or nuts with you. Choose water, diet or low-sugar drinks.
School, College or your Place of Work
This is the place most people eat out most often.
Try to cover one-third to a half of your plate with vegetables and another third with carbohydrate foods such as pasta, rice, potatoes, chapatti, bread, noodles and yam. The remainder should be a lean meat, fish, egg, cheese or a vegetarian dish.
Remember combination dishes such as spaghetti Bolognese, fish pie and lasagne usually contain vegetables but you can add an extra vegetable or side salad for an added boost.
Opt for wholegrain bread and choose sandwiches which contain salad vegetables and limit the mayonnaise.
If there are no healthy options available why not “hassle” those in charge for more variety. In the meantime plan ahead, prepare a healthy packed lunch and bring suitable snacks from home.
A Word About Salt
Many snack and takeaway foods are high in unnecessary salt and it is best to limit these. Try to avoid adding extra salt to the food you eat. Check out NHS Choices for more information on salt.
Eating three balanced meals each day is the best way of ensuring you get everything you need from your diet. But don’t forget snacks also have a valuable part to play in seeing you through the day.
As a rule of thumb try to split your energy intake up evenly throughout the day. So breakfast should provide about 20% of your energy needs, lunch and your evening meal about 30% each. That leaves about 20% for planned snacks such as fruit, nuts, and cereals bars.
A typical girl aged 15-18 years needs about 2100 calories a day. This works out at approximately 420 for breakfast, 630 for lunch and 630 for her evening meal, leaving just 420 for extra snacks and drinks between meals. Remember this is just a guide to help you and not a hard and fast rule.
You can find out more about your energy needs by checking out your guideline daily amounts in our Food Labels page.