Watch: Small changes make a huge difference when it comes to healthy eating
The pure misery of February, two years of the pandemic, and rising food and fuel prices are not the greatest encouragement when it comes to living the healthy-lifestyle dream. It's hard to laugh joyously at salad or run down a beach without a care, when your daily life involves trudging to work in the freezing rain and comforting yourself with a large meal and a bottle of wine when it's finally over.
New research, however, suggests we've drifted a long way from the healthy living that successive governments and health professionals so tirelessly promote. A study of over 100,000 Brits, from meal replacement company abnormal, has discovered that despite our new year resolutions, couch to 5k is now just, well, couch, and our healthy diets have been ditched.
The research compared our true fruit and veg intake, alongside protein, water, caffeine and fibre with the medically recommended daily amounts, and it;'s fair to say that few of us are getting a 'well done' sticker right now.
Just a third of Brits are hitting health and nutrition recommendations, it seems. With less than 8% of people sticking to new year’s resolutions and 47% confessing they would like to lose "a lot of weight", it's clear that things aren't going well nutritionally speaking.
The data has revealed that 53% are having too much caffeine, 67% aren’t meeting the daily recommended amount of fibre intake, 66% don’t eat enough protein and just 9% are having their five-a-day of fruit and vegetables. Plus, a quarter (25%) confess they often skip meals entirely.
More men are struggling to meet suggested intake targets, with just half (52%) having the right amount of protein and only 7% eating their five-a-day.
On the upside, a significant 66% of women are consuming the right amount of fibre and 64% are eating enough protein. Almost half (46%) said they are drinking the daily advised amount of water too.
Here's what's recommended - compared to the reality.
Caffeine drinks per day
(Recommended) 4 or fewer
Reality: 47% achieve this
Fibre per day
(Recommended) 2 portions
Reality: 33% achieve this
Protein per day
(Recommended) 1-2 portions
Reality: 34% achieve this
Fruit and veg per day
(Recommended) 5 portions +
Reality: 7% achieve this
Water per day
(Recommended) 3.7 litres
Reality: 47% achieve this.
Men eat far less protein than women, apparently preferring carbs (52% vs 64%) and also drink much more water - 76% as opposed to 46%.
But while we can forgive ourselves for our struggles, given the circumstances, it's something we may need to address soon - as our poor diet is affecting our health, and raising our chances of an early death.
A 2019 study reported in medical journal The Lancet found nutrition-poor diets are a significant factor in mortality rates.
Dr Ashkan Afsin, from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at Washington University, said not eating enough whole grains, fruit and veg was a significant danger to health.
“Ideally, consumers should aim for replacing unhealthy food and foods of low nutritional value in their diet with healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts.” He said.
The research covered at 195 countries. In 2016, the UK had the 23rd lowest mortality due to diet, costing 89,913 lives, while smoking was responsible for 96,000 deaths.
Maybe it's time to up that water intake - and throw a few more fruit and vegetables into the mix while we're at it.