Meeting dietary guidelines seems to be somewhat of an impossible task here in the UK, according to multiple studies. The nation’s general intake of free sugars, salt and saturated fats are far beyond the recommended levels, whilst the likes of fibre, fruit and vegetables simply aren’t making a big enough appearance in day to day diets. In excess of two-thirds of adults are now classed as obese, a statistic that sadly hasn’t changed that all much over the past few years. With the NHS and others putting more and more energy into educating consumers, it begs the question, does the general public really have any clue on how to eat properly?
In an effort to fully understand the issue, the British Nutrition Foundation carried out a national survey, showing an equal amount of consumers believed that food labels and results from online were the most trustworthy sources of information about the food in front of them. The information given on food labels simply has to be correct by law, but when it comes to the internet, things just aren’t as clear. Numbers are skewed, tampered with, as is the nature of the web. Nutritionists and dietitians were believed to be the most reliable source by most in the survey. The scary thing, however, is that anyone can call themselves a nutritionist, as is a title not protected by the law. This means that anybody, qualified or unqualified, can call themselves one, providing completely incorrect dietary advice. There are people out there who are actively trying to campaign against this and are trying to solve the issue, but it’s an uncommon fact that a lot of people simply aren’t aware of.
Professionals aside, it’s those with the most influence are possibly to blame for some of the biggest recent trends, those aptly named as ‘influencers’. Instagram personalities, bloggers – anyone with a following, has the power to change the mindsets of those who look up to them. Don’t take us wrong, there are plenty out there who do their homework, and put a lot of thought into each and every piece of content, but for every level-headed, thoughtful influencer, there’s someone who has had their gaze taken by flashy looking contracts from food brands that may not actually be all that healthy. Coconut oil, for example, was pushed as something of a super-food, though the truth couldn’t be much further from that. There are some questionable, loosely-researched benefits, but on the whole, it has an extremely saturated fat content, severely raising blood cholesterol.
Similarly, trendy kinds of honey, syrups and nectars (such as agave and date) are often seen as healthier choices than table sugar, but in fact all count as free sugars, the type of sugars that we should each be removing from our diets to reduce weight gain, dental issues and fat retention. Fruit juice is a good source of vitamins, and smoothies can also provide fibre, but whilst they do count as up to 1 of your 5-a-day, portions should be limited to 150ml per day due to their free sugars content, so whilst these are not completely empty calories, it might be wise to hold off from juicing everything you keep in the fridge!
The truth of it all remains the same, in that to achieve a great diet you need to hold a balanced intake. All fruits and vegetables are good for us, but eating variety is the real challenge that bears fruit (pun intended). UK dietary guidelines are based on the best scientific evidence available so to ensure you are getting all the nutrients you need and reduce your risk of developing chronic diseases, consume a diet that’s in line with the Eatwell Guide and importantly, seek dietary information from reputable sources. Mr Lee’s were created to complement exactly this, a well-balanced diet. We’ve strung variety across our product range, putting in a mix of healthful meat and vegetables. All of our accurate dietary information can be found right here on our website, to help you make your own decisions when it comes to healthy eating.
So what’s next? Well, you can go ahead and follow the BNF Healthy Eating Week 18 campaign over on twitter under the hashtag #BNFHEW18, and to learn more about nutrition labelling and gain a better understanding of the food you eat, you can visit the Whatsinit? website!