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Consultants Corner: Nutrition and hydration

Doctors at BMI Healthcare share their expertise.

19 October 2018

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We have survived after possibly over-indulging during our summer holidays. Some of us are still fighting back and trying to get back into our pre-summer fitness routines. Read what one of BMI Healthcare's resident dietitians recommends about how to eat and drink to stay healthy.

Q.) Is there such a thing as an ideal diet?
Knowing what to eat for the best can certainly seem confusing. The key to a good diet is fresh food and plenty of variety. No one food is going to make you healthy despite the claims for superfoods such as goji berries and wheat grass. Try to ensure that every meal contains a balance of some protein, a controlled amount of unrefined starchy food and plenty of vegetables, along with dairy or calcium containing foods each day. There’s an 80:20 rule, where we follow a healthy diet for 80% of the time and still allow ourselves some treats. No one is perfect and no diet is ideal! It’s about moderation and balance.

Q) What is the best way to stay hydrated and what are the signs that our body is becoming dehydrated?
In the UK good old tap water is a great way to keep hydrated. Otherwise bottled water, tea and coffee (you may want to opt for decaff varieties or fruit teas) and no added sugar squashes.  Regular sugary fizzy drinks should be drunk very occasionally and it is recommended that we don’t have more than 1 small glass (150mls) of fresh fruit juice per day due to the sugar content. Alcohol is dehydrating so try drinking a glass of water between alcoholic drinks.

If we don’t drink enough, the first thing we notice is a dry sticky mouth, at which point you we already becoming dehydrated. Other signs are tiredness, headaches, dizziness or light headedness. Try to aim for light straw coloured wee, anything darker is a sign of dehydration.

Q) Some people find it easier than others to drink their recommended 5 litres of water a day. Are there any tips or tricks to making drinking your 5 a day easier?
The recommended fluid intake for adults is 2l per day for men and 1600mls for women.  This amounts to 10 medium sized glasses or mugs per day for men and 8 for women. About 70-80% of our water comes from drinks and the rest from food such as soup and fruit. During exercise and hot weather we will sweat more and need more fluids but also remember that in the winter central heating can have the same effect.

Q) Why is drinking water so important?
Water is free of calories and additives so it is the drink of choice.  Try adding a slice of lemon, lime or orange, some cucumber or mint for added excitement!

Q) Is there an ideal diet for losing weight effectively and safely?
Cutting out whole food groups is not recommended for weight loss. Many people have tried extreme diets in the past (remember cabbage soup, grapefruit and boiled egg diets)! You may lose weight but invariably it goes back on when you start eating normally again and there’s only so long you can put up with eating these foods. Also these restricted diets will not provide you with all the nutrients you need to stay healthy. Making a few changes that you can stick with such as half filling your plate with vegetables, using smaller plates to serve your food on, eating regularly and watching snacks will be a better way to go in the long term. Start by writing down what you eat to notice your own patterns.

Judi Earl BSc, MBDA
Registered Dietitian

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