Health

You are what you eat: eating healthier for less

November 3, 2022
4 minute read
Andrew Farquharson

That’s how the well-known saying goes – you are what you eat. And it’s incredibly true. Like a car, whatever you put in, determines the quality of the output. If you put diesel into a petrol car it will soon let you know it’s not happy! Your body is the same, although it can take much longer for the negative effects of a poor diet to show physically.

What we put into our bodies is said to be one of the most important factors we can control for a healthy body and mind. From our energy levels right down to the growth of cells everywhere in our bodies, our food and hydration choices are a huge factor in our bodily health.  

So, what’s the best way to adopt a healthier lifestyle through the food we buy, eat, and cook? Does it have to cost the earth to make the most of a good diet, or can we do it affordably?  We’re sharing the Phlo team’s top tips for making informed choices about what we put into our bodies.

What’s your lifestyle like?

Understanding your lifestyle means you can make better decisions about how you fuel your body. Are you active and always on the go? Do you work a lot and with different patterns? Are you retired or working less hours? Do you lead a more relaxed lifestyle? Whichever it is, understanding your lifestyle over an average week will help you identify what your body needs. People with a hectic or active lifestyle typically need more fuel than those who have a more relaxed or sedentary lifestyle. But, key for everyone is staying hydrated at all times and fresh water is your best friend for this. Turn on the tap and enjoy the freshness!

Planning what you need

Once you have a good feel for the lifestyle of you and your family, you can plan what a typical day or weeks’ worth of food shopping might look like. How many meals will you eat at home or work? How many times might you eat out? What snacks might you need between meals? Planning for the coming week means less temptation to pick up things you don’t need at the shops, and it means less trips to the supermarket for top-up shops. Using this approach also means your total spend will be more controlled.  

Once you know what your meals are going to look like, you can build up your non-perishable store cupboard supplies. Tinned and dried essentials are cost-effective and good for you. Likewise, if you have freezer space, large bags of frozen fruit and veg are often much cheaper than their fresh counterparts, but just as nutritious.  

Are offers really too good to be true?

The supermarkets are full of special offers, designed to tempt you to spend more money. They might seem like a good deal, but are you buying it just because it’s on offer, or do you really need that deal? Have you ever looked at your receipt after buying a few deals and realised you spent an extra £10 on items you didn’t even come in for?    

Some offers ARE genuinely good if there are discounts on the items you were planning to buy. Nearly all supermarkets will run daily discounted offers on items that are close to their best before date. These are all still safe products for human consumption but might be going out of date within 24-48 hours. If you aren’t going to eat them ahead of their best before date, then you can freeze suitable items as soon as you get home, or cook them and then freeze them for a quick meal at a later date.  

A little bit of everything

Adopting a healthier diet aligned to your lifestyle doesn’t mean missing out on the things you love. The key is balancing some of your indulgences with more healthier items. Is it more of a treat to have two rows of your favourite chocolate bar with a post-dinner cuppa and spread it across a few days, rather than eat the whole bar in one go and forget what it even tasted like? Take the time to savour what you’re eating and make it an experience.  

There will be days when you just want to eat your favourite things (good or bad) and that’s not a bad thing. There will be special occasion days where there are lots of sweet treats. Don’t deny yourself – food is there to be enjoyed. The key is balancing with more healthier items.  

Should you supplement your diet?

For most people, a varied diet should provide them with pretty much all the nutrition they need. However, there are exceptions depending on whether you have certain lifestyle choices, food allergies, or medical conditions. For example, if you’re vegan or lactose intolerant, then you may be lacking in many vitamins or minerals that come from animal sources. If you have low iron levels, then iron rich foods alone might not be enough to correct your levels. Speak with your Pharmacist or GP for advice in the first instance and they’ll be able to advise on supplementation, or if you should speak to a specialist dietitian or nutritionist.

Adopting a healthier diet doesn’t need to mean missing out on the things you love, nor does it need to be any more costly. In fact, it can often end up being more cost effective to choose healthier items and essentials if you do a little planning and home cooking.  

If you’re not sure where to get started, check out our handy resources.

Eating a balanced diet (NHS)

The Eatwell Guide

Money Saving Expert supermarket shopping tips

Smart supermarket shopping

Batch cooking and freezing food

If you have any questions or concerns about adopting a healthier diet, get in touch with our friendly pharmacy team who can offer you advice and guidance.

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