Friday, 2 March 2012

How healthy is what you're eating?

So, we're on this journey to lose weight, slim down and generally be more healthful people. But a discussion we had in my Weight Watchers meeting this week got me thinking how healthy I really am, or rather how healthy is the food I'm eating. Sure, I've lost 40lbs, but you can do that simply by restricting your calories (or points in my case) - so you could eat one 1000 calorie burger in a day and nothing else, and still lose weight. But it's not exactly healthy, is it?

Give yourself a number on a scale of 1-10, of how healthy you think you are, food wise. If you think everything you eat is 100% spot on, go for 10. If you're a member of the burger club, it'd be much less! Remember that number.

Guidelines (here in the UK at least, but I think they're a good pointer) detail 5 things you should be doing every day to maximise the health benefits you get from your food. These are:

  1. Eating a variety of 5 portions of fruit and veg a day.
  2. Drinking 6-8 200ml glasses of water (or other fluids) a day.
  3. Eating 2 portions of lean protein a day (meat, poultry, fish, beans, pulses, dairy).
  4. Eating 2 portions of wholegrains a day (fibre-rich foods such as wholemeal pasta and rice, wholegrain cereals, wholemeal bread).
  5. Consuming 2 portions of dairy a day (especially important for women).
There are also things you should be cutting down or restricting your intake of:
  1. Salt. No more than 6g a day.
  2. Alcohol. Your intake should not regularly exceed 2-3 units per day for women, 3-4 for men. See here for a guide to alcohol units.
  3. Refined sugars. These contain no nutritional benefit, other than calories!
Now start from 0 and give yourself a point for each of the following:
  • 3 or 4 portions of fruit and veg
  • 5+ portions of fruit and veg
  • 6 or 7 glasses of water a day (1200-1400ml)
  • 8+ glasses of water a day (1600ml +)
  • 1 portion of lean protein (a portion is equivalent to a peice of meat or fish the size of a pack of playing cards, two eggs, four tablespoons of lentils or beans, 100g cottage cheese)
  • 2 portions of lean protein
  • 1 portion of wholegrain (a portion can be 3 heaped tbsps wholegrain breakfast cereal, 1 heaped tbsp uncooked porridge oats, 1 medium slice wholemeal bread, 1 small wholemeal roll, 2 heaped tbsps cooked brown rice,2 heaped tbsps cooked wild rice, 3 heaped tbsps cooked brown pasta, ½ wholemeal pitta bread or 2 rye crispbreads)
  • 2 portions of wholegrain
  • 1 portion of dairy (a medium-size glass of milk, a small pot of yoghurt, or a small matchbox-sized piece of cheese)
  • 2 portions of dairy 
Now take off a point if you:
  • Consume too much salt
  • Consume more than the recommended amount of alcohol regularly
  • Consume too much processed sugar (use your own judgement as to what is too much!)
So, what was your "score"? Was it higher or lower than you initially thought? Initially, I thought I was around a 6 or 7, but actually it's higher than that. I always without fail get my 5 a day now, and usually by lunchtime. I've got the water nailed, at 2 litres a day. I always get at least 1 portion of protein and dairy, and my wholegrain intake is good. I didn't have to take off any points either, leaving me with a score of 8 or 9 (most days!). I don't always get enough dairy, and sometimes protein, but I think I'm doing all right! Food for thought.

If you can get all that within your calorie "budget", then you can officially say you're healthy! Of course, you need to add in exercise/activity, not smoke, do anything else remotely risky and factor in any medical conditions! This healthy business is a full time job!



  1. I only got a six but it was skewed! I don't eat whole grains because I don't eat any wheat products in general and I don't have dairy either. I take calcium supplements though. I was really really excited 'cuz I was on my way to a perfect 10 until those suckers came up :(

  2. I also got 6, I didn't think mine would be that good. I THINK I eat too much refined sugar so I minused one for that but I played safe and lost it rather than assume that maybe I don't eat that much sugar when in reality I probably do.

  3. I got 8, but before I started eating healthier, it would have prob been a 3 or maybe 2!! I notice more and more in the supermarkets how much of a con "low-fat" products are - they are PACKED with sugar in some cases and like you say, give no nutritional benefit whatsoever. x

  4. I think this is very interesting. I count calories, but I indulge within my budget from time to time. I thought I was a 7 but I am an 8 actually. And that was even harsh! Yay! :D

  5. I am an 8 and I will take it! Much better than say a year ago.

  6. on most days i hit all my guidelines -- on a bad day woa -- LOOK OUT! and it makes a good point because i rarely go over my daily points target -- but 26 p+ of healthy stuff vs. greasy chinese food like i ate last night is a MAJOR difference!

    love that first picture!