Advice from the Experts: Eat Healthy

Roy Ballam, managing director and head of education at the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) introduces the seventh annual BNF Healthy Eating Week, taking place June 10-14, and explains the benefits of getting involved.
Britain is in the midst of an obesity crisis – two thirds of adults are overweight or obese, and one third of children leave primary school overweight or obese. Our research suggests
that there are a number of barriers to healthy eating for both children and adults, and this is a real cause for concern.

During BNF Healthy Eating Week 2018, we surveyed 500 adults across the UK and found that 43% have difficulty finding reliable information on healthy diets, and that changing information and conflicting messages and advice from media and experts are causing confusion. We also questioned 2,707 11-16-year olds in the UK, and the results show that:

  • 12% of young people are not sure what the healthiest foods are
  • 36% of secondary school pupils say that they don’t like healthy foods
  • 20% say that healthy foods are boring

Therefore, as most professionals working in the catering industry will be all too aware, improving education about nutrition, cooking and food provenance is enormously important.

BNF Healthy Eating Week aims to increase knowledge about healthy eating and wellbeing, physical activity, food provenance and cooking by providing schools and organisations with a series of challenges
to complete throughout the week, supported by suggested activities and informative resources. From young children, to professional adults, the initiative provides people of all ages with a brilliant
opportunity to become enthusiastic about food and cooking, to learn more about healthy eating, and the small daily changes we can all make to improve our health and wellbeing.

There are five challenges throughout the week, and plenty of ways chefs and caterers can be involved:

Sleep Well – Emerging research is linking poor sleep quality to less healthy food choices and increased risk of obesity. We feel it is important to address this issue and so have introduced the new ‘Sleep Well’ challenge for 2019. Resources will highlight that getting enough good quality sleep is a key element of healthy lifestyles.

Get Active – To add an extra incentive for participating in a sports/activity day during BNF Healthy Eating Week, chefs and caterers can work with school staff to plan and supply refreshments.

Have 5 a day – This year, we want to highlight the importance of vegetables within a balanced diet. This could be incorporated by caterers working with school, nursery or workplace staff to grow produce that can be served for lunch during BNF Healthy Eating Week, e.g. herbs, lettuce.

Drink Plenty It’s important to drink plenty of fluids to stay well hydrated and also to make healthy drink choices, avoiding those with added sugars most of the time. This could be highlighted by organising a pop-up ‘hydration station’ with water and/or sugar-free options to be available at break and lunchtimes throughout the week.

Have a Breakfast – Breakfast is vital to getting the day off to a good start! A good way for caterers to introduce this challenge to their organisation is by arranging a healthy breakfast event, where staff or students are invited to take some time out to enjoy the most important meal of the day. A themed breakfast could add some fun too!

For more information, visit www.foodafactoflife.org.uk