Eat for Health at Caswell Clinic

The healthy eating message has come to Caswell clinic recently. For 4 weeks in March, both patients and staff attended sessions run by Dietetian´s, Rhian Marston and Donna Duncan, which aimed to reinforce principles of healthy eating and weight loss

Although most of us know which foods are good (and bad) for us, we don´t always end up always choosing the things that are best for our health. The sessions were designed to help residents and staff, become more motivated to choose healthier meals and snacks. Discussions and information was given on food choices, food labeling, eating out, correct portions for weight loss and we even enjoyed some food tasting during some of the sessions!

The dietitians used the Balance of good health or the "plate model" to get across the message about healthy eating. They explained that foods should be chosen from each of the following groups every day:

  • Bread and cereals (orange coloured section)
  • Fish, meat, eggs, pulses and nuts (red coloured section)
  • Milk, cheese and yoghurt (blue coloured section)
  • Fruit and vegetables (green coloured section)
  • Fats and oils (yellow coloured section)

The model is also based on the eight guidelines for a healthy diet,

  • Enjoy your food
  • Eat a variety of different foods
  • Eat the right amount to be a healthy weight
  • Eat plenty of foods rich in starch and fibre
  • Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables
  • Don´t eat too many foods that contain a lot of fat
  • Don´t have sugary foods and drinks too often
  • If you drink alcohol, drink sensibly

Eating a variety of foods, at regular intervals, is important for good health, as this provides the energy and range of nutrients needed and in the correct portions can help to maintain a healthy weight.

Especially important is the message to have more fruit and vegetables as they contain beneficial antioxidant vitamins. Participants were shown how to achieve 5 portions a day. At the tasting sessions organic strawberries, 3 types of melon, pineapple chunks, dried apricots and cape gooseberries were on offer to try.

Participants were keen to know what counted as a portion

  • 1 medium fruit e.g. apple, orange, banana, pear, 1 whole fruit = 1 portion
  • A large fruit e.g. melon, pineapple, 1 large slice = 1 portion
  • A small fruit e.g. kiwi, apricots or plums, 2 small fruit = 1 portion
  • Fruit juice e.g. unsweetened or fresh, 1 small glass (150ml) = 1 portion
  • Dried fruit e.g. apricots, raisins, prunes,1 tablespoon = 1 portion
  • Salad,1 small bowlful = 1 portion
  • Vegetables, cooked or raw, 2-3 heaped tablespoons = 1 portion

Ideas for meals and snacks were given, portion sizes and ways of saving calories were discussed. It was explained that saving 500 calories a day would result in a weight loss of 1 pound a week. That´s 4 pound a month and 52 pounds or 4 stone a year!

  • Swap list Savings in KCALS
  • Swap a chocolate biscuit for a plain biscuit 57
  • Swap a chocolate digestive for a Jaffa Cake 36
  • Spread margarine thinly instead of thickly 50
  • Swap 2oz cheddar cheese for 2 oz low fat cheddar 86
  • Swap packet of crisps for an apple 118
  • Swap 1 can cola for a diet drink 128
  • Swap a chocolate trifle for a low fat mousse 218
  • Swap trifle for low fat yoghurt 119
  • Swap a portion of battered haddock for a portion of plain haddock 120
  • Swap small portion of pilau rice for boiled rice 94
  • Swap sweet white wine for dry white wine 36
  • Swap dry white wine for white spritzer 41
  • Swap strong cider (pint) for dry cider 370

Those who attended the final session were given a personal plan where they were asked to state their healthy weight loss goal and documented a list of strategies to help them achieve their goal i.e. swap chocolate for fruit as snacks, attend the gym more often, enlist the help of someone else on the ward to encourage them, or simply drink more water. A list of several positive changes such as these over time can result in achievement of goals.