Dr. Phelan By General Practitioner Published:

It’s the start of a new year, and for many of us it’s a chance to kick-start our healthy lifestyle with a diet rich in fruit and vegetables. Here are some top tips on how to do it.

  1. Eat your greens: a third of the food you eat should be fruit and vegetables. They are an important source of vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre.
  2. Five a day: a portion is roughly 80g of fruit or vegetables. A single banana would count as one portion, as would three spoonfuls of peas, or two tangerines.
  3. Protein portions: as a rough guide, a portion of protein should be the size of your palm. Or for a more technical guide; adults need 0.75g of protein per day for every kilo they weigh.
  4. Watch the salt: too much salt raises our blood pressure, which increases your risk of stroke and heart disease. Adults should aim to eat no more than 6g a day.
  5. Trim the fat: having too much saturated fat in your diet (found in dairy, red meat and processed foods) can clog up your arteries and increase the risk of heart disease.
  6. Skip the sugar: sugar can increase the risk of diabetes and obesity. Read labels carefully as sugar hides under many names, including glucose, fructose, lactose, dextrose and maltose amongst others.
  7. Eat fish: try and eat a minimum of two portions of fish per week, one of which should be oily fish to provide you with essential Omega-3 fatty acids.
  8. Avoid processed foods: pre-packaged, processed and takeaway food can be very high in hidden salts, fats and sugars.
  9. Include carbs: starchy carbohydrates like rice are a great source of energy. Choose wholegrain (brown) versions as they keep you fuller for longer.
  10. Talk to your doctor: If you have pre-existing medical conditions and are unsure about your best options to create healthy lifestyle changes talk to your doctor for advice.