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Food and Drink

To stop dehydration, we need to drink enough liquid - about 6 glassess a day (1.2 litres). Find out how much at NHS Choices.

For most of us the phrase ‘healthy eating’ brings to mind advice to:

  • eat ‘5 a day’,
  • cut down on fatty and sugary foods,
  • stick to safe alcohol limits
  • keep weight under control.

This has been the expert consensus for at least two decades! The advice applies to young and middle aged adults. It is especially relevant to people with mental health problems, who are known to have poor diets. Healthy eating aims to help prevent early death from cancers, heart disease and stroke, which are more common in people with schizophrenia and other mental illness. It can also help prevent or manage obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol levels, osteoporosis, anaemia, dental disease constipation and haemorrhoids (or piles). The links below give lots more detail about healthy eating.

If you decide to change your diet then make sure you give yourself a chance to succeed. Set yourself small targets that are realistic for you. When the first change has become part of your routine, set yourself another one! Changing eating habits can be very hard so try to be patient. And remember, no one has to be perfect. If you have a bad day you can always start again tomorrow!

Healthy eating for children may not be the same as it is for adults. Very small children need more energy (calories) so that they can grow. They should not have skimmed milk and very high fibre foods as this can mean they do not get enough calories or other nutrients. They may also need to eat some snacks because they may not be able to eat full meals. Teenagers too may need to have extras because they are growing very fast.

Remember though that food needs to be balanced with activity. Children need to run around and play to stay fit and healthy. Those who spend lots of time sitting down need fewer calories, especially from very concentrated foods such as soft drinks, sweets, chocolates, cakes and biscuits.

If you are not sure about what children should be eating then a health visitor or school nurse will be able to help.

Healthy eating for older people may not be the same for younger adults, especially if an older person already has an illness. It is often more important to concentrate on food quality rather than quantity. Being overweight may be less of a risk for older people. Some research has found that weight loss is more of a risk than being a bit overweight. But it is important to check that mobility, breathing and blood pressure are not made worse by being overweight.

Older people may find it difficult to eat enough at just 3 meals a day so may need to eat snacks in between.

Click here for NHS Choices - Ten ways to boost your heath

Healthy Lifestyle Services for Derby City residents - Live Well Derby

fruit and veg
Food and drink

Healthy Eating

If it tastes good…

We all have busy lives – a hectic work and home life can all put pressure on our time – so choosing convenience seems sensible.  And a healthy appetite’s a good thing isn’t it?  But do we always make the right choices when it comes to food?

As NHS staff we’ve become good at spotting when service users’ health might benefit from a better diet but how about ourselves?  We owe it to ourselves to give our own health some priority too.  We already get a lot of messages about the importance of a healthy diet and perhaps it all seems a bit of a nag but it really is important stuff!

Making sure that you are eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day makes a big difference to your health. Eating healthily is also about eating the right amount of food for your energy needs.  The NHS “eat-well” plate recommends basing meals on around a third starchy foods (bread, rice, potatoes). Eating more fish, reducing fat, sugar and salt and drinking more water is the way to a healthy diet and, combined with enough physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight.

Eating more fruit and vegetables doesn’t have to be expensive; tinned, frozen and dried are just as good and it’s also cheaper to eat foods that are in season.  Most of our salt intake comes from processed foods – so try to reduce these.  You can reduce fat in your diet in a number of ways.  By cutting off visible fat from meat, spreading fats more thinly and cutting down on fatty and sugary snacks.

Cutting out the junk food and making sure your diet is balanced means you will be avoiding unnecessary health risks and you will feel better too.  If you’ve made positive changes to your diet and felt the benefits don’t be afraid of sharing with them patients, they’ve told us they appreciate advice from people that have made changes.

For more information about healthy eating see eatwell or NHS choices

For instance, did you know?

  • One in three deaths from cancer and one in three deaths from coronary heart disease are attributable to a poor diet

  • Reducing salt intake to the recommended 6gms a day for adults would contribute to a 17 per cent reduction in high blood pressure in the UK population

  • In England only 26 per cent of people claim to eat 5-a-day – i.e. five portions of fruit and vegetables.


Click here for Your Guide to the Eatwell Plate

The Eatwell Plate: How to use it in promotional material


eatwell plate
Eatwell Plate