Know your numbers

‘Portion sizes are definitely worth watching - less of the spuds and more of the veggies’

Tue, Sep 24, 2013, 13:00

Very often when we think of healthy eating we think of deprivation and cutting back. It seemed to me this week that it is not about eating very little or cutting whole groups of foods out of your diet but making better choices in what we do eat.

Catherine Fulvio’s cookery demonstration was certainly not about deprivation as she rustled up two very healthy but delicious dishes. She had good tips about using herbs and seasonings for flavour rather adding in salt.

With so much salt already in processed foods, the Irish Heart Foundation(IHF) strongly advise never adding salt at the table. Janis Morrisey, a dietitian with the IHF, who also spoke at the event, explained that we often already exceed our daily limit before we even pick up the shaker.

I am fond of salt I must say, so I am making a real effort this week to cut it down, or hopefully, out of my diet.

There is often conflicting information about how to follow a healthy diet so I found the IHF approach pretty straightforward. It is back to the food pyramid which is worth looking at again. It seems quite “in” recently to follow a low carbohydrate diet and I wondered about this as I looked at the bottom shelf of the pyramid. It contains all those starchy favourites.

The advice is six servings a day but here is the key piece - do we really all know how much a serving is? For example a serving of breakfast cereal is...wait for it....four dessert spoons! Yikes!

That’s not a bowl crammed with your finest flakes. So portion sizes are definitely worth watching - less of the spuds and more of the veggies. Catherine Fulvio made a gorgeous soup and, despite our little blast of an Indian Summer this weekend, we are entering soup season.

I will try out her recipe and see if it passes the Mooney kids test!

Finally for now I went along for my health check. I felt quite irresponsible as I was asked “what is your blood pressure normally?” “What was your cholesterol at your last check?”......em......never had it checked.

I was therefore delighted to have everything tested - body mass index, cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar etc. It really is important to keep an eye on things and “know your numbers” as the nurse advised.

My husband was diagnosed with high blood pressure some months ago and it is sobering to think of the impact that could have. With a history of heart disease in his family he acted pretty quickly to improve things.

By pretty much cutting salt out altogether and exercising more he managed to bring it right down. He avoided at best a lifetime of medication and at worst an outcome I don’t even want to contemplate.

When you see how simply these checks can be done I will definitely be keeping a better eye on things into what I hope will be a long and healthy future!