Eating healthily is a great way to help ourselves bounce - after all, what we eat is the fuel for our bodies and for our minds.
When we eat a poor diet - one with too much sugar, saturated fat and salt - we have less energy and a lower mood in the short term. That makes bouncing back a lot harder! And in the long term we’re doing ourselves damage, making it more likely that we’ll get serious diseases like high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and even cancer.
This how to guide is here to give you some ideas on how to eat more healthily.
Find out what your bad food habits are
Keeping a food diary for one week is a good way to see what kinds of foods you normally eat and where there might be an opportunity to make a healthy food swap.
There’s no need to get too detailed - don’t start counting calories! But each day, jot down:
- What you had for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
- Any snacks you had during the day.
- What you’ve been drinking.
Our minds, and our happiness, are affected by the food we eat. It’s great to know we can brain train simply by shifting our nutrition up a gear or two! Look at your food diary and try targeting the worst offenders – sugary snacks, puddings and drinks give us a quick boost but then send our spirits falling.
Look out for foods with hidden salt, too. Things like crisps, sliced white bread and even processed breakfast cereals like cornflakes have really high levels of salt in them.
Make your move
Time to make some healthy food swaps
Once you’ve worked out the least healthy food you eat, it’s time to start swapping those things for something a bit healthier. Here are some tips:
- See if you can add more of the good stuff.
- Look at the meals you regularly eat and add a handful of vegetables.
- Trim the salt and the fat - find healthier alternatives.
- Look at the Change4Life website for ideas on healthy food swaps for your favourite snacks and meals.
- Aim to make one or two substitutions a week over a term and, before you know it, you’ll be set up for life.
Get some help
Do you do the weekly shopping? Snack at break time on your own? Thought not! That’s why this move will probably go better if you get some help.
- Recruit your parent or carer, and your friends, and chat about the foods you’d like to try and how you can get them.
- Maybe it’s time to get into the kitchen yourself? If you are the chef you can be in charge of what goes in the recipe!
Notice what happens when you eat more healthily
You’ll find it easier to stick with this move if you pay attention to what happens as you change your diet. If you can spend four weeks eating less sugar, fat and salt and more fresh fruit and vegetables, we guarantee you’re going to start seeing and feeling the results.
Use your journal or a notebook to think about what you’ve noticed since you’ve been eating more healthily. In particular have you noticed any changes with:
- Your energy levels?
- Your sleep?
- Your skin and hair?
- How you feel generally?
- Your concentration in class?
Feeling better? Keep going!
You don’t need to cut out the naughty treats completely. If we’re generally healthy we can enjoy the odd chocolate bar or bag of crisps. Everything in moderation!