Tips, advice and easy to follow recipes, updated monthly, along with loads of other fun and interesting foody facts.
Why is it important to eat healthily?
Eating well is essential for good health and wellbeing, and contributes to reducing the risk of conditions including heart disease, diabetes, stroke, some cancers and osteoporosis. When it comes to a healthy diet, balance is the key to getting it right.
This means eating a wide variety of foods in the right proportions, and consuming the right amount of food and drink to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.
The eatwell guide
The eatwell guide shows the different types of food that make up our diet, and shows the proportions we should eat them in to have a healthy, balanced diet.
Be sure to follow the
Wakefield Wellbeing Facebook page.
Everybody loves a good British BBQ during summer, here are some things to look out for when barbequing as well as easy to follow recipes to spice up your spread.
What is the enemy and how do you defeat it?
Do you own a charcoal barbeque?
Did you know that the smoke and direct flames related could have very bad side effects for you and your families health?
Well this is all down to a thing called Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs). These come direct from the smoke and flames of charcoal barbeques and have been linked to causing some cancers.
The smoke releases poisonous gases, including carbon monoxide and PAHs.
Further research into PAHs has shown that their production is linked to three key factors:
Fat content of the food
How close the food is to the heat source
Time taken to cook the food
Jessica Kirby from Cancer Research UK has said: “There is some evidence to suggest cooking meat at high temperatures, such as barbecuing, can create chemicals that may increase the risk of cancer”.
How do I avoid these dangerous chemicals?
Here are our 5 top tips to a safer and healthier barbeque for you this season:
1. Marinate food in alcohol before cooking it
According to the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, soaking meat in a marinade of beer or wine reduces the health risks by around 50%. Marinating the meat also gives it a lovely flavour.
Marinate fruit in a bowl of flavoured vodka overnight for a tasty BBQ desert option.
The alcohol will protect your food from cancer-causing agents whilst adding extra flavour! But don’t worry, it won’t get you drunk as the alcohol is cooked off when the food is being barbequed!
2. Scrape off the black bits
If your food does overcook and go black (charring), scrape off the black bits as that’s where those harmful chemicals are hiding.
3. Part cook food before barbequing
Jessica Kirby from Cancer Research UK also points out: “Part-cooking larger items such as chicken pieces in a microwave or oven means less time on a barbecue. It’s one way of reducing charring.” This means you can still get the classic, smoky barbecue flavour without the nasty side effects!
4. Include more vegetables in your barbeque menu
Vegetables don’t create those chemicals when they char and the lack of fat also means there are no flare-ups that can create smoke. Also, they are naturally low in fat and calories, and are important sources of many nutrients, including potassium, fibre and vitamins A & C, which will maintain a healthy blood pressure, reduce blood cholesterol levels and keep your skin healthy and beautiful!
5. Make the switch! Go from charcoal to gas or electric.
Cooking over natural gas or propane grills reduces the pollution emitted, so is much safer for you and the environment.
Don’t overdo it!
It is so easy to eat too much at a barbeque, just think how many times you’ve said ‘oh I’ll just have one more’ or ‘go on as there’s only one left’. Portion control is very important. A review published in 2013 stated that larger plates of food can lead to us eating up to 45% more than what our average intake would be . That’s a lot!
So, how can you take control?
Visualise it! – Visualise your portion sizes so you can learn and understand what they look like. For example one portion of meat is the same size as your outstretched hand and a sausage should be the size of your index finger.
Track it! – Make use of technology and download an app to track what you are eating so you eat the daily recommended for calories, carbs, proteins and fats. There are many out there already to choose from.
Prep it! – Invest in measuring cups and scales and prep your meals weekly following recipes so you can better understand what you’re eating. For your barbeque this summer, follow our recipes below, we’ve even included all the nutrition facts so you know exactly what you’re preparing for yourself, friends and family.
Veg it up! - Vegetables are the food group lowest in calories and most of us don’t get enough. Swap out calorie rich foods, sides, and snacks for example: crisps, French fries or pasta with non-starchy veggies for example: celery sticks, corn on the cob or olives. Eating plenty of these good for you, and they’ll fill you up better because of the water and fibre content, not to mention they’re full of wonderful body-pleasing vitamins and minerals!
So remember at your next BBQ, just because there is an extra one going it doesn’t mean you have to eat it right there and then!
Easy, Healthy BBQ Recipes!
Red meats like beef burgers and sausages are the more likely to pick up high levels of harmful chemicals when using a charcoal BBQ. To enjoy a lighter, healthier BBQ treat with items less likely to pick up those sneaky PAHs this summer, follow these simple recipes below!
They’re all 400 calories or less per serving too!
Download the recipes including:
- Pork and pineapple skewers
- BBQ chicken burgers
- Barbecued bananas
- Stuffed peppers
Make food safety your number one priority this BBQ season by following our simple ways on how to cook with confidence
- Make sure frozen foods are fully thawed (preferably in the fridge on the bottom shelf defrosting overnight) before you start cooking them.
- Keep foods you plan to cook properly chilled in the fridge or a cool box until needed.
- Light your barbecue in advance (especially if it's charcoal!)
How to handle raw vs. cooked meats
- Keep raw meat separate from cooked meat and ready-to-eat foods like salads
- Use separate utensils for handling raw and cooked meat whilst cooking
- Never put cooked food on a dish that has been used for raw meat or poultry (unless it's been thoroughly washed in between)
Cook with confidence
Make sure food is cooked thoroughly, you will notice this when;
- They are piping hot all the way through
- There is no pink meat left
- The juices run clear
- If cooking too quickly move to the edges of the BBQ
- Remember not to overcook till turning black
And always wash your hands thoroughly before cooking and eating!
Alcohol and Weight
The key to healthy weight is getting the right amount of calories. If you're working hard in the gym, but not quite getting the results you were hoping for, it's probably down to your calorie intake not being quite right.
Weekly recommendations. The UK government recommends that men and women should drink 14 or less units of alcohol in a week.
Who drinks the most?
- In the UK, the peak age bracket for alcohol-related deaths is 45 to 65, and alcohol is a contributing factor in over a quarter of all deaths in men aged 16 to 24 years.
- The figures released by UK's Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that there were 8,697 alcohol-related liver deaths in 2014.
- Alcoholic drinks account for 10% of 29 to 64 year old's daily intake of added sugar. All alcoholic drinks contain some sugar, and Dr Sarah Jarvis, a member of Drinkaware's medical panel, identifies fortified wines, sherries, liqueurs and cider as containing the most sugar. Remember mixers like coke and lemonade are high in sugar. Choose a diet coke or diet lemonade, soda water or sparkling water.
- How does alcohol affect your liver? Extra alcohol calories are stored in the body as fat causing a disease called fatty liver. This can lead to cirrhosis and death if you do not reduce alcohol intake. This causes permanent damage to your liver.
Health risks and benefits.
If you drink at low level and do not exceed the weekly guidelines then you are drinking in a way that is unlikely to harm your health. Drinking consistently within these limits is called 'lower-risk' rather than 'safe' because drinking alcohol is never completely safe. Cutting down on alcohol can help you manage your weight and reduce your risk of illnesses such as stroke, heart disease and liver disease.
Tips for healthy drinking
- Drink with a meal to slow your drinking.
- Alternate your drink with water or a low calorie soft drink.
- Spread 14 units over a week rather than in one or two days.
- Cut down the alcohol by swapping strong beers or wines for ones with a lower strength. Check the % ABV (Alcohol By Volume).
- You can still enjoy a drink, but go for smaller sizes. Try bottled beer instead of pints, or a small glass of wine instead of a large one.
- Have several drink-free days each week.
- Try switching to low alcohol drinks.
The best and easy mocktail recipes for you to enjoy
It’s all in the smile! Here’s how to look after your most attractive feature.
A healthy smile is your most attractive feature according to research by the Oral Health Foundation. Here’s some tips to keep you smiling. Foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals can help prevent gum disease.
Choosing foods from each of the colours on the eatwell guide everyday is a good start.
What is the best thing to eat to keep your teeth beautiful?
Calcium rich foods such as milk, cheese and unsweetened yoghurt are important to keep your teeth in good condition.
Eating these at the end of a meal also helps to lower acidity in your mouth which protects them from decay.
Regular meals or grazing?
Eating regular meals rather than grazing is best for your teeth. The more times your teeth have food or sugary drinks on them the more decay is possible.
Choose 3 meals a day with 1-2 low sugar snacks and 6-8 sugar free drinks for tooth-friendly eating.
Remember to brush twice a day, spit not rinse and visit your dentist regularly for full smile protection.
Tooth-friendly snacks ideas to get your teeth into.
These snacks are also under 100 calories so they are fine as part of a healthy diet for everyone with a good appetite. Tooth-friendly means low in sugar and a texture that doesn’t stick in your teeth for ages. Even savoury foods like crisps can be broken down into sugars as they start to be digested in your mouth when they are stuck in your teeth.
- a banana
- 2 satsumas
- 1 tablespoon hummus and 12 carrot sticks
- 2 mini Babybel Light
- a handful of grapes
- a hard- boiled egg
- a slice of toast with marmite
- 15 olives
- an apple
- 1 tablespoon cream cheese with 12 cucumber sticks
- 2 kiwi
- a pear
- 12 unsalted peanuts
- 2 plums
Get chewing - find out how chewing protects your teeth.
Chewing sugar-free gum after eating or drinking can help protect your teeth and gums in between meals.
Did you know chewing gum for up to 10 minutes can remove 100 million bacteria in your saliva?
An easy way to clean your mouth and freshen your breath on-the-go.
If you have a sweet tooth try to choose sugar free sweets and drinks that contain xylitol. Xylitol is a sweetener that is extracted from plants and has 40% less calories than sugar. It has an added bonus of helping to protect teeth. It can be found in toothpaste, mouthwash, chewing gum, peanut butter, sugar-free candy, sugar free breath mints, fruit drinks, jellies and jams.
Stevia is another sweetener that is natural and zero calories. It is recommended by DiabetesUK and marketed as Truvia.
Look out for flavoured drinks that use this sweetener rather than sugar or syrups.
Stress and caffeine
A stress response speeds up your heart rate, raises your blood pressure to get you ready to fight or take flight. Some foods can cause a similar response in your body and so make you feel stressed.
Long term this is not good for any of our bodies.
Coffee, energy drinks, strong tea and coke can contain a lot of caffeine which can do this to your body.
Caffeine can also disturb your sleep leaving you low in energy and mood.
Caffeine can affect your gut too, upsetting digestion, and may cause IBS type symptoms.
Caffeine can be addictive and leave you reliant on another caffeinated drink as a pick-me-up.
What you think is helping you cope may be making you worse.
Check if you’re addicted:
Stopping your regular drinks suddenly can give you bad headaches so gradually swap coffee, strong tea, coke and energy drinks to healthier options.
Try decaffeinated tea and coffee, water, herbal and fruit tea. If you love your fizzy drinks opt for caffeine free low sugar versions.
Amazing Rhubarb - fruit or veg?
|It’s actually a vegetable with an edible stalk.
The redder the stalk the sweeter the taste.
It is a good source of fibre to help your gut work properly.
Rich in vitamin C so great for protecting your body’s cells and for healing.
Rhubarb used to be an important medicine in the 17th century and was more expensive than opium.
Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
|A dessert with some tang and crunch, plus packed with a third of your vitamin C for the day. Crunchy oats boost the fibre as a treat for your insides.
Rhubarb and Strawberry Meringues
|Airy meringues are a healthier and gorgeous stand-in for whipped cream on these easy rhubarb desserts and keep them heart healthily low fat. Get over half of your vitamin C in one of these yummy meringues.
Highly Hydrating Facts
- We get 20% of the water we need from food You can survive weeks without food but only days without water
- Fill your water bottle and take it with you
- Do your bit for our planet and choose a reusable bottle
- The Human body is nearly two thirds water
- Drinking enough water each day can help reduce heart disease and cancer – water helps flush toxins out of the body
- Adults need to drink at least 6-8 glasses of fluid per day
- Although water is the best source of fluid, milk, fruit juice, tea and coffee count
- Drinking enough keeps you alert and able to concentrate so you are at your best
- Cucumbers are 95% water – slice them up and chuck them on sandwiches, salads, or infuse them in water to stay hydrated!
More hydrating facts and tips
Make your own hydrating ice lollies
|Pick fruits that have high water content like these watermelon or strawberries.
The good, the bad and the ugly - facts on fats
Research shows some types of fat and eating too much fat can lead to heart disease. Some fats are good for you and keep you and your heart healthy. It’s all about finding the balance.
Eat more of these [Good fats]
- Use olive oil for cooking and dressings
- Eat mackerel, sardines, salmon, trout, fresh tuna once a week
- Add a handful of walnuts, pistachios, pumpkin or flax seeds to your morning bowl of cereal or to replace a less healthy snack
Eat less of these [Bad fats]
See if there’s any you can swap them for from the list above, or have them less often.
- butter, ghee, suet, lard, coconut oil and palm oil
- cakes and biscuits
- fatty cuts of meat
- sausages and burgers
- bacon, salami, chorizo and pancetta
- pastries, like pies, quiches, sausage rolls and croissants
- cream, crème fraîche and sour cream
- ice cream
- coconut milk
- milk shakes
- chocolate and chocolate spreads
Salmon with spring onion mash
Delicious, and a winner with the family. Salmon is a rich source of omega-3 fats, good for you heart and cholesterol.
Easy to make fishcakes.
Get the kids involved.
Mackerel contains vitamin D which is good for our bones.
|Research shows red meat: beef, pork and lamb are linked to heart disease as they are high in saturated fat.
A quarter of the bad fats we eat come from meat or meat products.
The benefits of red meat
Iron and vitamin B12 to keep nerve and red blood cells healthy. Zinc for the immune system and protein which helps build bones and muscles.
- Choose leaner meat such as 5% mince, trim visible fat
- Opt for lower fat burgers and sausages
- Bacon, ham, chorizo and pancetta are cured so eat occasionally
[Recommended intake - Men 2 palm sized pieces / Women 1 palm sized piece for a main meal]
Super stew and dumplings
Traditional and tasty - who knew this could be good for you!
A good source or iron, with vitamin C in the mash to help your body absorb the iron better.
Sausage and mash with a twist.
Lean beef is a good source of zinc to keep up your immunity and fight off winter germs.