Fiona Bayne: Eat well by planning well

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Your health is worth the effort in preparing a good diet, says Fiona Bayne

Research evidence is clear that eating a healthy diet is essential to remaining healthy.

Developing healthy eating habits from an early age can protect us from a host of illnesses later in life, like heart disease, cancer and obesity.

So what makes it so difficult when most of us know what we should be eating?

The messages are often confusing but the principles have remained the same for years – eat a well balanced diet with lots of fruit, vegetables and starchy foods (e.g. bread, potatoes, cereals, pasta and rice) and not so much fat, sugar and salt.

There has been much debate in the media recently about the effect of rising food costs and the impact of global warming on food supplies; unemployment and changes to the benefit system and the effect of this on our food budgets.

With food prices predicted to increase over the next 20 years the problem is not going away. Evidence shows consumers are switching to cheaper products which are more likely to contain more salt, fat and sugar.

There is an abundance of information to be found about how to reduce the cost of our food bill. Things such as buying tinned and frozen instead of fresh, going seasonal, reducing food waste, eating more vegetables than meat, cooking from scratch and growing your own food. Of course all of these require planning, along with good budgeting and cooking skills but it is possible.

• For more information about eating a healthy diet while working to a budget and becoming more active visit {http:// www.smallstepsbigdifference.co.uk|www.smallstepsbigdifference.co.uk|www.smallstepsbigdifference.co.uk}

• Fiona Bayne is senior health promotion specialist at NHS Lothian