1. How often do you eat high-fat food?
You answered: two to four times a week
If you have a healthy
body weight, this intake of high-fat food is fine. If you're trying to manage your weight, there's room for improvement. High-fat
food is a major source of calories. Fat contains double the calories of protein (for example, lean meat) or starchy food (for
example, pasta, potatoes and bread). It's easy to overeat fatty food because it isn't very filling. Fats from animal origin
are saturated which makes them harmful to your heart. These sorts of food include fatty meat, sausages, pies, butter, lard,
cream, cheese and ghee.
2. How often do you have dairy food?
You answered: most days (five-plus days a week)
on the right track because dairy foods should be eaten every day. These are a good source of calcium, which is important for
bone growth and maintenance. Increasing numbers of people in the UK, particularly women, suffer from osteoporosis. This brittle
bone condition, which affects older people, is made worse by low-calcium intakes throughout life. Eating the right amount
of calcium from childhood is a good way to prevent osteoporosis.
3. How many portions of fruit or vegetables do you eat each day?
You answered: usually none
You're missing out! Fruit and vegetables aren't called 'nature's pharmacy' for nothing. Antioxidant nutrients in fruit
and vegetables help to lower our risk of diseases such as cancer, stroke and heart disease. Fruit and vegetables are also
an excellent source of fibre which protects your bowel from cancer and other diseases. You should aim to reach five portions
4. How many times a week do you have a takeaway or restaurant meal?
You answered: very occasionally
This level of eating out is fine. If you're trying to manage your weight, you may want to be aware of the
calories in fast food and some restaurant meals. Most of these are a huge source of calories, although there are now a few
more healthier options on the menu. Keeping takeaways or slap-up restaurant meals as occasional treats reduces your chance
of becoming overweight.
5. How often do you eat high-fibre food?
You answered: sometimes (one to two days a week)
level of fibre is fairly low. Higher fibre food helps to keep our digestive systems working effectively and lower the risk
of bowel cancer. Fibre is also quite filling, which helps if you're trying to manage your weight.
6. How many times a week do you eat high-fat or sugary snacks?
You answered: at least every day
This could be too high but it depends on your weight and the rest of your diet. 'Treat food' is tasty and makes us feel
good, and there's no reason why it shouldn't be part of a healthy diet. However, when treat food becomes too regular, your
risk of obesity increases and you can miss out on important vitamins and minerals. Use your weight to gauge whether your intake
of treat food is too high. Your BMI indicates whether you are within the recommended weight range. You'll be able to monitor this regularly in your locker once
you start your Vitality programme. If your weight is increasing or you're currently trying to lose weight, treat food should
be reduced to once or twice a week.
7. How many units of alcohol do you have in a typical week?
You answered: one to 20 units a week
This is within the recommended level. Try to spread out your alcohol intake over the week and avoid binge drinking - that
is, more than five drinks in one day. Alcohol contains a lot of calories and can therefore lead to weight gain. About 28 units
a week of beer or wine will provide an extra 2,500 calories, which is an average person's calorie intake for a day. Moderate
drinking can be healthy because scientists have shown that one to three units of wine a day can help to prevent heart disease.
It's becoming increasingly common to be served large glasses of wine. Remember that these can contain as much as two and a
half units. Find out more about what counts as a unit and the calorie content of your favourite alcoholic drinks.
8. How often do you eat oily fish or omega 3 DHA/EPA alternatives?
You answered: three to four times
This is good but some more would increase the benefits. The fats in oily fish (and in shellfish) are called
omega 3 EPA and DHA. They're beneficial for the heart, brain, eyes and immune system. Other sources are liver, fish oil supplements
and fortified food. These products usually display 'omega 3s' or DHA on the label. There's a misconception that nuts and flaxseed
provide EPA and DHA. This isn't the case, although flaxseed provides another type of omega 3 which is also healthy. It's a
good idea to include both types in your diet.
9. When you eat a typical meal, how much of the plate contains starchy food?
You answered: a quarter
to a half
This is a bit low. It's recommended that more than half the plate of an average meal should be starchy food
(for example, potatoes, pasta, rice, bread, couscous, quinoa, noodles and all types of bread) with another quarter as fruit
or vegetables. The reason is that starchy food is a healthy source of energy and is low in fats. There are additional benefits
if you choose the high fibre, wholegrain options.
10. How many days a week do you eat breakfast?
You answered: I don't eat breakfast
breakfast means you're missing out on your morning brain boost. The ideal would be to eat something on most mornings. For
example, a chopped banana and cereal. The saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day is probably right. Scientists
have shown that people who eat breakfast regularly tend to be slimmer and have a healthier balance of fats in the blood (for
example, better levels of cholesterol). Eating starchy food for breakfast in particular may be beneficial for mental agility
and concentration at work or school.
11. How many times a day do you eat sweetened food or drinks?
You answered: one to three times a
This is a healthy frequency. Your risk of tooth decay is probably low but it depends on how often you brush your
teeth and whether or not a fluoride toothpaste is used. Dental experts have shown that each time we eat sugary food or drink
sweetened drinks, our tooth enamel comes under attack from acid. The best way to avoid tooth decay is to keep sugary food
and drinks to mealtimes and brush with a fluoride toothpaste morning and night.
12. How many cans or small bottles of sweetened soft drinks do you drink a day?
You answered: one
to two a day
This seems about right. There are no official recommendations about sweetened soft drinks. However, there's
evidence that people who drink a lot of these have high calorie intakes, which could lead to obesity.
People who drink more than two to three soft drinks a day also tend to have low intakes of vitamins and minerals. The best
way to keep a balance is to limit sweetened soft drinks. Choose other drinks from a wide variety of sources, such as tap water,
tea, coffee, milk, unsweetened fruit juice and diet drinks.
13. How many glasses or cups of fluid do you drink every day?
You answered: four or less a day
This is far too low and you would benefit from increasing your intake towards eight to ten glasses a day. Regular fluid
prevents dehydration, where body water levels become low leading to a loss of concentration and stress. By the time you're
thirsty, you're already five to ten per cent dehydrated. Keep an eye on the colour of your urine to find out if you need to
drink more. If it's a deep yellow colour, drink a glass of non-alcoholic fluid every hour. Water is the healthiest option,
but you could also choose from tea, coffee, milk, unsweetened fruit juice and soft drinks.
If you're pregnant or breastfeeding,
avoid alcohol and high-caffeine drinks. Also keep tea and coffee to a maximum of four cups a day.
14. Do you add salt to your food?
You answered: cooking and every meal
This is probably
too much salt. High levels of salt (sodium) push up blood pressure in susceptible people, which may increase the risk of a
heart attack. Even children can experience effects over time so try to avoid adding any to their food. It's particularly dangerous
for babies because their kidneys are too immature to deal with it. Many types of processed food contain salt, such as bread,
meat products and cereals. So we don't need any extra in your diet. Try to add less salt over time and your taste buds will
15. How often do you have food containing iron?
You answered: one to two days a week
could be low if most of your iron is from vegetarian sources, for example cereals and beans. This is because the iron in these
types of food is poorly absorbed. Iron helps our red blood cells carry oxygen around the body. Low intakes depress our immune
system and can increase lethargy. Women are particularly at risk from low iron intakes and about 20 per cent of young children
are deficient. Ensure everyone in your family has red meat or vegetarian alternatives, such as lentils, beans and breakfast
cereals, on most days of the week. Drink fruit juice with meals to increase iron absorption.
16. How often do you eat food which is high in folate or folic acid?
You answered: three to four
days a week
This is a reasonable amount but you would benefit from more. Folate is important for healthy blood and
may help to lower the risk of heart disease. It's also vital during pregnancy to help prevent birth defects such as spina
bifida. It should be taken as a supplement during the first trimester of pregnancy. Some food is fortified with folic acid
(similar to folate), such as breakfast cereals. The best sources of folate are orange juice, liver and green vegetables.