Healthy Eating Tutorial

Introduction

Eating a healthy diet is just as important for health and wellbeing as being physically active, not smoking, and limiting consumption of alcohol.

Eating the right food helps children grow and develop both physically and mentally, and gives everyone enough energy to stay fit and active. It also is necessary for wound healing and repairing other injuries.

A healthy diet is one which provides the right amount of nutrients and calories for the body to function properly, and achieve and maintain a healthy weight. A healthy diet will also reduce the risk of many diseases.

Consequences of a poor diet

A poor diet increases the risk of developing many serious health conditions, including:

  • Overweight and obesity
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Certain types of cancer
  • Tooth decay
  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies

Overweight and obesity

A healthy diet contains the right amount of nutrients and calories to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, and the amount needed varies according to sex and throughout different stages of life such as during childhood, adolescence and pregnancy.

Overweight and obesity occurs when too many calories are regularly consumed. People who are overweight or obese have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and some cancers.

Most adults in Scotland, and almost a third of children are now overweight or obese. Eating a healthy diet and being active reduces the risk of being overweight or obese.

Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes which can cause high blood glucose levels can cause damage to the body. If left untreated, type 2 diabetes can have serious consequences including kidney, eye and foot damage, hearing impairment and heart and blood vessel disease which can result in limb amputations.

Being overweight or obese or drinking lots of sugary drinks increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Eating a healthy diet, achieving and maintaining a healthy weight and being active can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. 

Cancer

Cancer is the most common cause of death in Scotland and being overweight increases the risk of 13 different types of cancer.

40% of cancers are preventable through lifestyle changes, including:

  • Eating a healthy diet (by limiting the consumption of red and processed meat; eating plenty of fruit and vegetables and foods high in fibre)
  • Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight
  • Being active
  • Not smoking
  • Avoiding drinking more alcohol than is recommended

Heart disease

Heart disease is the second most common cause of death in Scotland. 80% of heart disease is preventable.

There are several ways to reduce the risk of developing heart disease:

  • Lowering blood cholesterol by reducing the amount of saturated fat in the diet
  • Lowering blood pressure by reducing the amount of salt in the diet
  • Eating more oil-rich fish such as mackerel, salmon and herring, which contain omega-3 fats which can help protect against heart disease
  • Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight
  • Not smoking

On the next slide you can learn more about saturated and unsaturated fat.

Saturated fat

Saturated fats mostly come from animal sources, and tend to be solid at room temperature.

High intakes of saturated fats can increase blood cholesterol levels, which increase the risk of developing heart disease and stroke. Foods high in saturated fat include:

  • Fatty cuts of meat and meat products such as sausages and meat pies
  • Butter, ghee, lard and cream
  • Cheese
  • Cakes, biscuits and pastries
  • Confectionery
  • Coconut oil and palm oil

Unsaturated fat

Unsaturated fats mostly come from plant sources and tend to be liquid at room temperature. These types of fats are healthier than saturated fats and help to reduce blood cholesterol levels, so it is important to get most of our fat from unsaturated sources.

Replacing some saturated fat with unsaturated fat can reduce the risk of heart disease, but the total amount of fat eaten should not increase.

This is because all types of fat (saturated and unsaturated) are high in calories.

Foods high in unsaturated fats include:

  • Sunflower, rapeseed, olive and vegetable oils, and spreads made from these
  • Oil-rich fish contain important unsaturated omega 3 fats that help protect against heart disease
  • Nuts and seeds

Tooth decay

In 2016, 31% of primary 1 children in Scotland had obvious dental decay. 

In 2015, 25% of primary 7 children in Scotland had obvious dental decay.

Too many sugary foods and drinks can cause tooth decay, especially if eaten between meals.

Fruit juices and smoothies are also high in sugar which can harm teeth, so consumption should be limited to meal times and a combined total of 150ml per day.

Reducing the quantity and frequency of sugary food and drink consumption will help prevent tooth decay.

Vitamins and minerals

All vitamins and many minerals are essential for health.

A lack of these essential vitamins and minerals can lead to deficiency diseases, including:

  • Anaemia caused by iron deficiency
  • Bone problems caused by a lack of vitamin D or calcium

A healthy diet should provide enough vitamins and minerals to prevent deficiency diseases.

Summary

A healthy diet is one which:

  • provides the right amount of energy (calories) and nutrients the body needs to function properly and carry out every day activities
  • provides the right amount of energy (calories) to achieve and maintain a healthy weight
  • contains enough vitamins and minerals to prevent deficiency diseases
  • reduces the risk of developing diet related diseases such as type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer, heart disease and high blood pressure

Module 1 quiz

Answer the questions below to see what you've learned and to complete module 1.

  1. Why is it important to eat a healthy diet?

    Choose 2 answers

    Correct

    Incorrect

  2. Which of the following will not increase the risk of developing a number of serious health conditions?

    Choose 1 answer

    Correct

    Incorrect

  3. Having diabetes increases the risk of developing which of the following conditions?

    Choose 1 answer

    Correct

    Incorrect

You completed Module 1 – complete all modules to progress.

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