Healthy Eating and Wellbeing
By Juliette Harmer
Juliette has worked in the NHS and the public sector as a Registered Dietitian for 22 years. Her areas of special interest are healthy living and weight management.
Following a loss there are many common issues that can arise and stop you from eating a healthy diet. For some a bereavement effects appetite and eating enough can be a problem with some struggling with unwanted weight loss, for others the reverse may be true and overeating for comfort, for example, may mean that the pounds pile on. In addition the loss may mean that they are cooking for one. This will mean adapting cooking skills and the temptation to not bother can be very common.
However eating well is key to feeling well and being a healthy weight has enormous emotional and health benefits that can all ensure that you are able to feel fitter and have a more positive outlook on life at a difficult time.
Top Tips for Eating Well
• Five a day of fruit and vegetables will provide a diet rich in fibre, vitamins and antioxidants all of which boost your body's healthy functioning levels.
• Watch the fat and sugar, snack foods such as crisps, biscuits, sweets, fizzy drinks and cakes can quickly add up on the calories, keep the consumption of these to a minimum and try alternative healthy snacks or low fat and low sugar varieties where possible.
• Aim for healthy cooking methods by opting for leaner cuts of meat, taking the skin off chicken, trying low fat dairy products and picking lower fat cooking methods such as baking, grilling and steaming.
• High fibre foods are helpful because they fill you up and promote a healthy digestive system. Choose the wholegrain varieties of breads, cereals, pasta and rice. Don't forget the 5 a day for fruit and veg!
• Omega-3 oils can protect against heart disease and may have an anti inflammatory effect. The best sources of this are oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, trout, tuna, sardines and pilchards. The current recommendations for this are 2 portions per week.
• Reduce your salt intake – although some salt is required by the body we tend to eat more than we should and this can cause fluid retention and raise blood pressure. Watch your intake of high salt foods such as bacon, cheese, foods in brine etc. Try not to add to much salt during cooking or to your food.
• If your appetite is poor pace yourself – better to have food little and often rather than trying to manage large meals that will overwhelm you.
• A healthy diet usually means going for a low fat, low sugar, high fibre diet, but if your appetite is poor and you are losing unwanted weight try and include some more energy dense foods such as dried fruit and nuts, cheese and crackers, scone and jam etc to top up your intake.
Watching Your Weight
• Watch your portion size – especially if you are now cooking for one it can be easy to overproduce so remember to adapt your cooking volumes. An idea might be to freeze leftovers for another day and try out some of the one person servings or individually packaged foods available at the shops.
• Eat foods that are filling as these will stop you getting hungry and snacking between meals. The best foods for this are those with a high fibre as fruit and vegetables, wholegrain breads, pastas, rice, oats.
• Choose low fat and low sugar foods where possible.
• Eat regularly and try and include breakfast, a good routine will make it easier to stay on track with a healthy diet.
• Take a good look at your eating and drinking behaviour – when do you eat too many calories? Be mindful of how fast you eat, whether you skip meals and then get over hungry later - is it during times of loneliness and boredom that you snack more? Pinpoint your main problem and work on addressing a solution to that first rather than trying to change everything at once.