Do you remember when you learned to ride a bike? The most important part was getting the balance right. Once you could balance easily, the pedals could turn smoothly, to drive the wheels and get the bike moving.
The same thing is true when it comes to choosing our food. Once we have learned to carefully balance the amounts and types of foods eaten, all the organs in the body will function smoothly and the body will work efficiently.
Following these ten tips will help you stay fit and healthy. It’s as easy as riding a bike, once you’ve got the balance right!
1. Food is Fun… Enjoy your food
Sharing a meal with family and friends at home or at school is a great way to enjoy food. It is fun to see other people’s choice of food – what do your friends eat? Do you try different foods every day? Check out your lunch box or dinner plate. How many different kinds of fruit and vegetables can you spot?
2. Breakfast is a very important meal
Just like cars, buses and trains cannot run without fuel, our bodies need energy to work. Especially after a night’s sleep, energy levels are low. So, whether you are off to school, or out and about at the weekend, start the day with breakfast. Plenty of carbohydrates is just the ticket: try toast or bread, or cereal with milk, fruit or yoghurt.
3. Eat different foods every day, variety is the recipe for health
You need over 40 different nutrients (such as vitamins and minerals) every day for good health. Since there is no single food that contains them all, it is important to balance your daily choices. In fact there are no good or bad foods, so you do not need to miss out on the foods you enjoy. The best way to make sure you get the right balance is to eat a wide variety of foods each day.
4. Which group would you tip for the top? Base your food on carbohydrates
About half the calories in your diet should come from carbohydrate foods, such as cereals, rice, pasta, potatoes and bread, so it is a good idea to include at least one of these at every meal. Try whole grain bread, pasta and other cereals to give you extra fibre. Have you tried baking your own bread? It’s good fun and smells wonderful!
5. Gimme five! Eat fruits and vegetables with each meal and as tasty snacks!
Fruits and vegetables are among the most important foods for giving us enough vitamins, minerals and fibre. We should all try to eat at least 5 servings a day. For example, a glass of fruit juice at breakfast, perhaps an apple and banana as snacks and two vegetables at meal times. Then you have already reached your total. How many different kinds can you spot in the supermarket? Why not try some new ones?
6. Fat facts. Too much fat is not good for your health
Eating too many of those fatty foods (such as fried potatoes, fried meats and sausages, pies and pastries) might not be so good for your body. Also go easy on fat spreads such as butter and margarines. Although we need some fats to get all the nutrients we need, it is better for our health if we don’t eat too much of these foods and get knocked off balance. So, if you have a high-fat lunch, see if you can have a low-fat dinner at home.
7. Snack attack! Eat regularly and choose a variety of snacks
Even if you eat regular meals during the day, there will still be times in between that you feel hungry, especially if you have been very physically active. Snacks can fill the gap, but should not be eaten in place of meals, only as an extra. There are lots of different snacks available. Your choice may be yoghurt, a handful of fresh or dried fruits, sticks of vegetables like carrots and celery, unsalted nuts or rice crackers, or perhaps a slice of fruit loaf or some bread with cheese. Occasionally, you may prefer crisps and other packet snacks, a chocolate bar, a piece of cake or biscuits. Whichever snack you enjoy, remember it is always good to include a variety of different types to keep things in balance.
8. Quench your thirst. Drink plenty of liquids
Did you know that more than half of your weight is just water? So as well as giving your body all the food it needs each day to keep healthy, you need at least 5 glasses of liquids a day. It is particularly important if the weather is very hot or if you have done lots of exercise, to have plenty to drink. Usually – but not always – your body will tell you this, by making you feel thirsty. Plain water is great of course; you can try tap water or mineral water, plain or flavoured, sparkling or non-sparkling. Fruit juices, tea, soft drinks, milk and other drinks, can all be okay from time to time.
9. Care for those teeth! Brush your teeth at least twice a day
Brush your teeth at least twice a day. Eating foods high in sugar or starches too often during the day can play a part in tooth decay. So don’t nibble foods and sip drinks all day long! Sugar-free chewing gum can help you keep your teeth healthy. However, the best way to keep a nice smile is to brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Also, after brushing your teeth at bedtime, don’t eat any food, or drink anything but water!
10. Get moving! Be active every day
Just like a bike may become rusty if it is not used for some time, our muscles and bones need to be kept moving too. Activity is needed to keep your heart healthy and your bones strong. It can also be good fun. Try to include some form of activity every day: it may be just walking to school and running up the stairs. However, games like skipping and football at break times are good for giving the body a workout. Swimming is a particularly good sport for keeping you healthy.