Here’s a question for you. What did you have for breakfast this morning? Was it some sugary cereal, a croissant or perhaps a full English with bacon, sausages, fried eggs and baked beans?
We’re often told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but a lot of us either skip it or just grab something on the way to school. So does it really matter?
Well, there’s no doubt that what we choose to eat has a huge impact on our health. And working out exactly what we should be eating can be really confusing.
Let’s be honest, we’re probably all a bit influenced by adverts for things like burgers, pizzas and doughnuts, but did you know that the Government is trying to lower the amount of sugar, fat and salt that we eat? In fact they’ve even banned some TV adverts for unhealthy foods that are targeted at people around our age.
On websites, though, it’s a different story, with one survey estimating that, in just one year, children in the UK saw more than 15 billion junk food adverts. So it’s no surprise that one in three of us leave primary school overweight or obese. And by the time we become adults, two-thirds of us need to lose weight because of our diet.
Eating too much unhealthy food can make us ill, costing the NHS an estimated £6.1bn every year, to take care of us in hospital. Imagine what we could do with all that money!
Warnings about eating badly are nothing new. Check out what I found in a massive library of old footage run by the British Film Institute. It’s a really old film, made by the government, to give us advice on what we should be eating.
Video clip: “Body-building foods! Milk, cheese, eggs, meat and fish. And milk is the best of body-building foods.”
Of course, some of our tastes have changed over the years, and so has the advice, so lets get some up to date info from an expert.
Tilly: “So, is there a really simple way of knowing what we should be eating so that we have a balance diet?”
Nutritionist Aisling Pigott: “In the UK, we’ve got a really nice message, which is five or more fruit and vegetables every day, and it’s a really good place to start. So try to include fruit or vegetables with every meal, using fruit or vegetables as snacks between meals, is a really good place to start in terms of improving your diet and having a healthy balanced diet.”
Tilly: “But of course we can’t just eat fruit and veg all day, right?”
Aisling: “Absolutely not. I would argue that a diet just containing fruit and vegetables would soon become unhealthy, because you’d be missing out on other vital nutrients. I encourage everybody to base their meals on some sort of carbohydrate, so bread, potatoes, rice, pasta; some sort of protein, whether that be meat, fish, eggs, beans; and some fruit and vegetables. In addition, making sure we’re using two or three portions of dairy or dairy alternatives every day, and being sensible about the number of high energy, high sugar and high fat foods we include in our diet.”
Tilly: “Lots of us are really worried about the impact of meat production on the climate crisis these days, so what exactly can we do about that?”
Aisling: “That’s a really good question, and we know that there is an environmental impact consuming meat, and reducing our meat consumption is something that many of us may choose to do. However, we need to be aware of the health implications of doing this. Children and young people do have high protein and high iron requirements. If you’re choosing to lead a vegetarian lifestyle, make sure you’re choosing foods that are high in protein, such as beans, pulses, lentils, nuts and seeds, and also food that contains lots of iron, like green, leafy veg to make sure that you’re not missing out on any essential nutrients.”
Tilly: “That’s really great advice, thank you!”
Now, if you’re anything like me, then all of this talk about food is probably making you really hungry – so it’s snack time. But of course we need it to be healthy, so here are a few quick and easy ideas I found and they’re not bad: fried cabbage pancakes, oatmeal teddy bear, omelette with green onions, baked vegetable fries with guacamole, baked sweet potato with vegetables, and watermelon ice lollies – enjoy!