Terry Vine, Deputy Chief Nurse at NHS Lincolnshire West Clinical Commissioning Group, talks about the upcoming Nutrition and Hydration Week and gives his top tips on how to achieve a well-balanced diet.

Healthy eating and staying well hydrated are perhaps two of the more basic ways of helping to keep ourselves healthy. Learning about good nutritional care and best hydration practices are an important part of our lifestyles and that is why Nutrition and Hydration Week from March 11th to 17th is so important.

Eating a healthy, balanced diet is an important way of maintaining your good health and can also go a long way to helping you feel your best. However, along with nutrition, hydration is also an important factor. There are a number of ways to achieve the ideal balance and I have gone through some of my top tips below.

1. Eat a variety of foods in the right proportions

Eating a variety of foods in the right proportions and consuming the correct amount of food and drink to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight is what we should all be aiming for.

One of the most commonly known aims is to eat five portions of fruit or vegetables each day. These foods are a great source of vitamins and minerals. There is also evidence that people who do eat at least five portions a day are said to have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke and some cancers.

Obviously, many of us enjoy the odd food or drink that is high in fat, salt or sugar. If that is the case, try and have these less often and in small amounts.

2. Protein is important 

Protein is also important in a balanced diet to help the body grow and repair itself. Foods like beans, pulses, fish, eggs and meat are great sources of protein.

3. Milk and dairy foods – go for lower-fat varieties

Milk and dairy foods such as cheese and yoghurt are also good sources of protein. They also contain calcium, which helps keep your bones healthy.

To enjoy the health benefits of dairy without eating too much fat, use semi-skimmed, 1% fat or skimmed milk, as well as lower-fat hard cheeses or cottage cheese, and lower-fat, lower-sugar yoghurt.

Unsweetened calcium-fortified dairy alternatives like soya milks, soya yoghurts and soya cheeses also count as part of this food group and can make good alternatives to dairy products.

4. Take steps to tackle dehydration

Balanced diets are not all about nutrition. Staying well hydrated is just as important and goes hand in hand with eating well.

Dehydration means your body loses more fluids than you take in. If it isn’t treated it can get worse and become a serious problem. It can happen more easily if you have diabetes, vomiting or diarrhoea or been in the sun too long. Drinking too much alcohol or sweating lots after exercise can also lead to dehydration.

It is recommended that six to eight glasses of water or other fluid are consumed every day to replace normal water loss.  

Symptoms of dehydration include always feeling thirsty, dark yellow and strong smelling urine, feeling dizzy, tiredness and having a dry mouth, lips and eyes.

You should drink plenty of fluids – especially water – when you feel any dehydration symptoms. Keep taking small sips and gradually drink more if you can. Unfortunately if you are feeling thirsty, then you are already starting to become dehydrated so it is important to keep drinking throughout the day.

5. Water is the ideal drink

Obviously, water is the healthy and cheap choice for quenching your thirst at any time and keeping you hydrated. It also has no calories and contains no sugars that can damage teeth.  

Low calorie fizzy drinks can be a nice tasty alternative to water, but they can still decay teeth due to the high acid content due to the additional carbon dioxide that creates the fizz.

6. Fluids can also come from food

It is also important to recognise that we get a large percentage of our daily fluid intake through the food we eat.  

People who are intermittent fasting or trying to cut down on the food they eat, may become dehydrated and need to think about drinking additional fluids.  

Often we feel less hungry in the hot weather so may naturally consume less food, but foods that are healthy and naturally high in fluid such as fruit and salad vegetables will help us keep hydrated.

So those are some of my top tips on nutrition and hydration. However, if you are suffering from dehydration, visit your pharmacist as they can recommend any potential treatments you may need.

This may simply be replacing any electrolytes that have been lost through excessive water loss and is the reason why people engaging in sports use drinks with added electrolytes.

To find out more about Nutrition and Hydration Week 2019, visit https://nutritionandhydrationweek.co.uk/ or for more tips on good nutrition, visit the NHS website.

Terry Vine is deputy chief nurse at NHS Lincolnshire West Clinical Commissioning Group.

Obesity is a problem across all age groups in the country, but can be especially problematic in young children. Growing up overweight or obese could lead to further health complications in later life.

It is for that reason that keeping our children healthy, active and eating well is incredibly important.

Research shows children who achieve a healthy weight tend to be fitter, healthier, better able to learn, and more self-confident. They’re also less likely to have low self-esteem or be bullied. And they’re much less likely to have health problems in later life.

Childhood Obesity Week runs until July 9 and aims to raise awareness among parents and children of the dangers of being above a healthy weight during childhood.

In Lincolnshire, almost a quarter of children in reception at school are classed as overweight or obese compared to the national average of 22.6%.

This rises to 35% of year six pupils being overweight or obese. Across the country, a third of pupils that age fall into that category.

A large number of different projects and interventions are being carried out in Lincolnshire to try and tackle the issue, including schemes in schools promoting healthy eating.

Whether your child is classed as overweight or you just want to keep them healthy as they grow, there are lots of simple ways to do it.

First of all, being a good role model to your child is one of the simplest ways of starting on the road to a healthier child. If you can demonstrate that you are eating healthily and being active, your child is more likely to change their habits.

Encouraging them to join you on regular walks or physical activity is also a good idea. All children need about 60 minutes of physical activity a day for good health, but it doesn’t need to be all at once.

Several short 10-minute or even five-minute bursts of activity throughout the day can be just as good as an hour-long stretch.

Try to avoid feeding your child oversized portions. There’s very little official guidance on precisely how much food children require, so you’ll need to use your own judgement.

A good rule of thumb is to start meals with small servings and let your child ask for more if they’re still hungry.

Keeping your child away from long spells in front of mobile phones, tablets or computer screens and making sure they get enough sleep is also important.

It’s been shown that children who don’t have the recommended amount of sleep are more likely to be overweight.

Terry Vine is deputy chief nurse at NHS Lincolnshire West Clinical Commissioning Group.