Posted on October 02, 2023 by Emily Forbes

Wednesday 20th September marked National Fitness Day; a celebration of the positive effects of physical activity. This year the highlight wasn’t just on physical activity but incorporated overall health including nutrition and recovery and mental health. We want to encourage all beings of all ages and abilities to recognise the importance of life-long physical and mental health as “your health is for life”.

During NFD week I posted 4 top tips on nutrition and recovery to support well- being and I share them with you here:

  1. Base the majority of your diet around unprocessed foods. Eating foods as close to their natural form will ensure you’re getting the right macro and micro nutrients to support health. If we are deficient in nutrients, for example, iron, this can lead to anaemia which can result in us feeling low in energy and tired. Shop around the outside aisles of the supermarket for your fresh goods – fruit, veg, meat, dairy, fish, legumes, seeds, nuts and whole grains. Try to limit quick, packaged and processed foods, usually found in the middle aisles.
  2. Reduce caffeine. Caffeine can increase feelings of anxiety and affect our sleep. Poor sleep can lead to poorer mental health, reduced resilience, and capacity to manage stress. Excessive tiredness can also result in poorer food choices and feed into a negative cycle.
  3. Eat a varied diet. As above, eating a variety of foods is going to provide a variety of essential nutrients. There is some new health advice suggesting 30 different plants every week instead of the 5-a-day target. This is to support gut micro-biome, and new research indicates that a healthy gut equals a healthy mind. A healthy diet also supports better recovery and reduced risk on non-communicable diseases. Sometimes, the 5-a-day target is still ambitious for some. My suggestion is to eat one more than you currently do to build that up and make it achievable. So, even if you eat zero fruit/veg at the moment, try to get at least 1 piece in a day.
  4. Stay hydrated. Being dehydrated can affect our energy levels, which in turn affects our desire to exercise and reduces our capacity and output. Being dehydrated can also disguise itself as hunger, possibly leading to unnecessary snacking and poor food choices.

Changes don’t need to be big and drastic. Start with small swaps like swapping a coffee for herbal tea/pint of water. If you eat a lot of take-aways, try to cut that down to one a week. Aim to eat that one extra fruit/veg a day. I am a big fan of planning. We all have busy lives which get on top of us sometimes, and once we start entering a negative cycle it can be hard to get back out. Bulk cook, meal prep companies, time blocked in the diary for physical activity, and regular bedtimes. Our health is our wealth and we should invest wisely.