How does what you eat and drink affect how you feel?
A healthy, balanced diet is important for your health and wellbeing, especially when you are in work. It gives us the energy to stay alert and focused at work, aids our ability to concentrate, and helps us to carry out tasks and duties at work effectively. It can aid weight management and reduce the risk of diseases including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some cancers. A healthy diet can also help to improve existing health conditions, improve our mood, and help us to sleep well.
Which foods are essential for a healthy diet?
It is important to eat a range of foods that provide a wide spread of nutrients, to help keep us energised. The NHS’s Eatwell Plate shows which food groups and proportions can help to achieve a healthy balanced diet. To view the Eatwell Plate, visit www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/eatwell-plate.aspx
If you drink alcohol, try to keep within the government’s recommended units; 2-3 units per day if you are female, and 3-4 units per day if you are male. Two alcohol-free days a week are encouraged - these do not have to be consecutive. For more information, visit www.drinkaware.co.uk/check-the-facts/what-is-alcohol/what-is-an-alcohol-unit#whatisaunit
10 tips for eating and living well
- Eat regular meals. Plan your meals around your working day, allowing time for breakfast before you start work.
- Include a starchy carbohydrate at each meal. As well as being a good energy source, carbohydrates also provide vitamins and minerals including B vitamins, iron and calcium. A jacket potato or sandwich both provide a starchy base and are worth considering for your lunch time meal at work.
- Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables. Aim for a variety of colours and keep it varied. Fresh, frozen, canned, dried and juice all count towards your '5 a day'. These foods eaten as healthy snacks on your break can help maintain your energy levels while at work.
- Ensure you stay hydrated and drink enough water. Health specialists recommend that most people should aim to drink 8-10 glasses per day (approx. 1.5-2 litres). If possible, keep a bottle or glass of water nearby while at work and drink it throughout the day.
- Limit your intake of caffeinated beverages. This includes tea, coffee and cola drinks. For more information on the effects of caffeine, visit www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/water-drinks.aspx
- Cook healthily. When cooking, try to grill, bake, boil, poach and steam food as opposed to frying.
- Watch your portions. Be mindful of portion sizes, e.g. an appropriate portion of cheese as part of a balanced meal should be the size of a matchbox.
- Lower your salt intake. Try reducing the amount of salt you use when cooking and at the table. Most people consume too much salt/sodium. It is added to many foods including bread, ready meals, breakfast cereals and processed foods. Try adding herbs, spices, lemon or lime juice to your foods as alternative seasonings.
- Limit foods that are high in fat and sugar. Avoid and limit foods high in saturated fat such as butter, lard, ghee, cakes and pastries and opt for fats that are unsaturated such as sunflower oil, olive oil and spreads that are predominately made from these, but still use sparingly. For more information, visit www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/Fat.aspx
- Read food labels. Look for the traffic light symbols on food labels when in doubt, and think about what they represent in terms of energy. A handy way to remember:
- Red = stop and think, high in fat and or sugar, occasional/small amounts
- Amber = most of the time, moderate amounts
- Green = low, go for it, good choices
For more information on food labelling, visit
Visit the following websites if you are interested in learning more about healthy eating: