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Optimum Diet and Heath Checks

Written by Marianne Heron with Paul Britton

The shelves of bookstores are groaning with cookery and diet books preaching different versions of eating and living well. A succession of foods has been nailed as baddies in our diet: fats, carbohydrates, gluten, dairy and sugar, the villain in Jamie Oliver’s campaign against the sweet stuff. It is all very confusing but the truth is that our modern diet, with over-refined processed foods with high fat, salt and sugar contents, is a chief culprit when it comes to being overweight and to conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. The answer lies not in short-term fad diets, but making a lifestyle change in eating habits. It is about feeling great and stabilising your energy levels.

No one eating plan will suit everybody however here are some basic guidelines.

Take it easy. Everything in moderation (the occasional pig-out is allowed) – take smaller helpings (smaller plates will help). Eat slowly.

Go Mediterranean. Make your meal a social occasion – switch off the TV and invite friends over. Have plenty of olives, olive oil, tomatoes, green vegetables and cheese.

Above the ground. Vegetables grown below the soil are often high in carbohydrates use them in moderation and give preference to those grown above the ground.

Colour. Try and make sure that your plate is colourful. Fall in love with fruit and vegetables which are high in anti-oxidants like blueberries, cranberries, beans, artichokes and nuts like walnuts and pecans.

Carbohydrates. Reduce your intake – cut down on refined starches and choose unrefined carbohydrates such as durum wheat pasta, whole wheat (or low GI) bread in moderation.

Sugar. Try and cut it right down.

Eat your greens. Yes our Mums were right, broccoli, kale, brussel sprouts, spinach, green beans and cabbage are the healthiest veggies.

Trans-fats. Hard margarines are the main culprit. Check the labels of baked goods, snacks, readymade dough and creamers for hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils.

Water. Hunger pangs can actually be thirst signals. Drink water throughout the day and a glass of water before a meal.

Read the labels. Processed foods have hidden salt, sugar, trans-fats and other additives. Read the labels, better still cut out processed foods and use fresh food and prepare your own dishes.

Health Checks

It is sensible to have regular checks and tests to pick up preventable conditions. Blood pressure, blood sugar levels and cholesterol can be done at your local clinic or pharmacist. Arrange with your doctor for mammograms (women) and prostate examination (men) and colonoscopies.

This excerpt was taken from Rewire Don’t Retire, sponsored by Irish Life and Active Retirement Ireland. You can download the full guide HERE.