AVOID TOO MUCH PASTA
Dr Farhat said weight gain could be an issue for many – accompanied by increases in harmful levels of cholesterol, blood pressure and Triglycerides – which is a type of fat found in your blood.
She cautioned: ‘In addition to weight gain, increased triglycerides could be the result of eating too much carbohydrates – and that includes pasta.
‘If you’ve stockpiled, or are consuming large amounts of it, you need to be careful! Increased Triglycerides has been linked to an increase in cardiovascular disease risk, especially in overweight and obese individuals.
‘That’s the same for rice and bread, too. And remember that an unhealthy diet can affect mental health too.
‘My advice would be to make use of the technology and use exercise apps to keep healthy. And remember that eating when bored is very common. If you can, try to use other distractions such as music, or even learn a new skill!’
GET YOUR SNACKING UNDER CONTROL
‘You need to think about the calories you’re consuming during the whole day. And a good way to reduce calorie intake is to swap unhealthy snacks such as biscuits, crisps and cakes with lower calorie and more nutritious ones,’ said Dr Farhat.
‘You could, for instance, have crispbread with cottage cheese, crackers with salsa or guacamole, cucumber and carrots, rice cakes with a low fat spread or avocado, zero fat yoghurt with olive oil and crackers, blueberries with low fat yoghurt, slice of bread with hummus and paprika, or a handful of nuts.
‘Popcorn is a very suitable low-calorie option too! I also recommend two squares (20-30g) of dark chocolate per day. It has high levels of antioxidants and can help improve your mood!’
NOT ALL FATS ARE BAD
She explained: ‘There are lots of good sources of fat – such as olive oil, canola oil, raw nuts, olives, and fish. Certain margarines, which contain naturally-occurring sterols, have also been clinically proven to lower bad cholesterol levels.’
GET YOUR VITAMIN D FIX
You’re likely to be deficient in vitamin D – and you need to do something about it, according to Dr Farhat.
‘We get most of the vitamin D we need from exposure to sunlight,’ she said. ‘We recently carried out a study at Liverpool Hope University and found 97 per cent of our participants, aged between 18 and 50, had inadequate levels of vitamin D.
‘Interestingly, this was tested in summer – when we’re supposed to have our highest levels. And when you consider that a lack of vitamin D has been linked with diabetes and cancer risk, it’s a major public health issue.
‘Therefore, this is now the ideal time of the year to make vitamin D from the sun, and as low as 15 minutes a day exposure would be sufficient for most people.’
BUY FROZEN FRUIT AND VEG
‘Frozen fruits and vegetables could be higher in vitamins and antioxidants than fresh ones. It’s a great alternative for those who don’t always have access to fresh produce, particularly in the current climate,’ Dr Farhat said.