Dietitians at Airedale Hospital donned their fruit masks to celebrate National Dietitians Week and to show that by eating well we can prevent illness and can all improve our health.
This year’s theme is ‘Dietitians Do Prevention’, highlighting the fantastic work that all dietitians do to prevent illness and optimise health and not just to help with conditions after they occur.
Across the UK, it has been identified that a greater focus on prevention and public health activity is vital to improving people’s health and so reducing pressure on the NHS.
The dietitians are hosting a week of activities including free fruit and smoothies, all kindly sponsored by Tesco’s supermarket. Each day has a different focus, looking at a different aspect of prevention including recovery and mental health, rehabilitation and how other activities, like smoking, impact on health.
Jane Phillips, Paediatric Dietitian at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust said:
“The main message we are focussing on is the importance of your 5 a day and keeping well hydrated. I work a lot with children and even if children come to me for example with an allergy, I’ll still be promoting healthy eating and so helping prevent issues long term. We also promote good hydration in children which helps to prevent conditions such as constipation and dehydration.”
By eating at least 5 portions of a variety of fruits and vegetables a day, it’s advised that you will not only feel better but will also give your body the many essential nutrients that it needs to maintain your overall health long term.
“For adults, as well as helping prevent obesity and diabetes, we can also help patients who may be malnourished. The nurses have a screening tool that recognises people who are admitted to hospital and may have malnutrition, so we can see those patients quickly and put measures in place to help.”
Top tips to get your five-a-day
Go for those in season: Opting for fresh produce as they are more likely to be locally grown, are value for money and often look and taste the best.
Eat a rainbow: Variety is important. Different coloured fruits and vegetables contain their own combination of vitamins, minerals and fibre, so to get the most benefit, try to eat one portion from each colour group. Choose from red, green, yellow, white, purple and orange varieties of fruits and vegetables.
Cut down or avoid butter, cream or cheese sauces: Even though fruit and vegetables are low in calories, remember that their calorie content is determined by what you prepare them with.
Be careful not to eat too many dried fruits: While a 30g portion of dried fruits, like apricots, dates, raisins etc. counts towards your five-a-day, once fruit is dried it also becomes a concentrated source of sugar and calories. To minimise damage to teeth, keep to mealtimes and not as a between-meal snack.
Check nutrition information on labels and look out for the ‘5-a-day’ logo: Vegetables contained in convenience foods such as ready-meals, pasta sauces and takeaway meals can contribute to your five-a-day but many of these foods may be high in added salt, sugar or fat. Check out the nutrition information to see whether you can get your five-a day, a healthier way.
Cut down on your meat portion sizes: Bulk up on vegetables and pulses by adding them to stews, curries and casseroles to get extra flavour, texture and plant-based nutrition.
Treat your fruit and veggies right: Nutrients in fruit and vegetables can be easily destroyed during food preparation and by heat, so whenever possible eat raw. When cooking vegetables, try steaming, microwaving, roasting or poaching rather than boiling so the maximum amount of nutrients can be retained.
Keep your freezer and cupboards well stocked: Keep a supply of frozen and/or canned vegetables and fruits at home. They are a convenient alternative to fresh varieties, stay fresher for longer and they all count towards your five-a-day.