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Eating a Balanced Diet


Introduction

Helpful Hints for Eating

Reducing Salt intake



Introduction

If you eat too much fat, sugar or salt it will increase your chances of having a stroke. 

There are simple steps you can take to improve your diet; such as eating starchy foods (e.g. bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, chapattis) and more fruit and vegetables.  Cutting down on fatty, sugary and salty foods will lower your risk of stroke and also help you to reach and stay at a healthier weight. 
 
Eating less salt helps to keep your blood pressure down.


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Helpful Hints for Eating

Here are some helpful hints if you want to change what you eat: 

  • Try to eat more fruit and vegetables as they contain vitamins which help prevent stroke.  Try to have at least 5 servings everyday - fresh, tinned or frozen.  You can count one glass of fruit juice but don't count potatoes.

    One serving is:

              - 1 banana /apple / pear / kiwi fruit
              - A small bunch of grapes / 2 plumbs
              - A glass of fresh orange juice
              - Some carrots /turnip / spouts / cauliflower / salad
              - A bowl of vegetable soup

  • Eat plenty of starchy foods (Healthy Living section) – bread, potatoes, pasta, rice, breakfast cereals.  These foods release energy slower than sugary foods and keep you going longer.  They fill you up too, without giving you too many calories – good for maintaining a healthy weight!
  • To help cut down on fat, use lean meat (Healthy Living section), chicken (without skin) or fish for a main course.  Peas, beans and lentils can be used instead and of meat and are also low in fat, cheap and filling.
  • Try to eat oil rich fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines or pilchard at least twice a week. They are good for your heart and circulation.
  • Grill, bake or microwave food rather than fry. If you really must fry, use polyunsaturated oil (corn or sunflower oil) or monounsaturated oil (olive or rapeseed) (read the label) instead of hard fat.
  • Try to avoid sugary food and drink (Healthy Living section) to help with weight control.  Choose artificial sweetners and low calorie/sugar free drinks; water is ideal. 
  • Choose skimmed or semi skimmed milk, low fat yoghurt and cheese.  Try a low fat spread but whatever you use – spread it thinly. 
  • You should think of cakes, biscuits, crisps, chocolate, sweets and soft drinks as treats and only have them once in a while.  They all have alot of sugar and/or fat so they add to your weight and don't help your cholesterol.  They are not filling, so you'll want more food soon afterwards.

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Reducing Salt intake

Salt increases your blood pressure.

You can decrease the amount of salt you use by: 

  • Using less salt when you are cooking
  • Not adding salt to food before eating 
  • Flavouring food with herbs, spices, pepper or mustard
  • Cutting down on salty snacks like crisps or salted nuts – and beware foods like pies, ready-made meals, sausages and most tinned and packet foods – they contain high amounts of salt (read the label).
  • Avoiding bicarbonate of soda (and other fizzy medicines for your stomach) as they contain alot of salt. 

If you are finding it hard to change what you eat and want some help ask your practice nurse for further information, or why not attend a hearty eating group?  These are sessions run by community dietitians where you will learn more about planning and cooking your meals, food labelling and take part in food tasting sessions.  You can also take a partner along. 

Your doctor can also refer you to the community dietitian if you are following a special diet e.g. if you have diabetes or have swallowing problems.  

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