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Building dietary habits with long-term benefits

Building dietary habits with long-term benefits

By Monika Siemicka, Dietitian, Preventicum

Everyone has personal preferences and tastes when it comes to the diet they choose to follow but there are some key elements that can be shared by everyone. Rather than thinking about what foods you should avoid, try instead to think about what you can add in to provide your body with the variety of nutrients it needs. Making lots of changes in one go can be overwhelming and often the habits won’t stick. Instead, choose one area to focus on to make a lasting change. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Eat plenty of wholegrains: think foods like pearl barley, brown rice and pasta, wholemeal bread, oats, quinoa, wholewheat cous cous, potatoes with skins and buckwheat. These are great sources of fibre, B vitamins and folate. They are quick to prepare, low in calories and great to throw into a salad for tomorrow’s lunch. 
  • If you eat meat, still incorporate some plant proteins too. Although meat can definitely be part of a healthy diet, mixing it up with plant proteins will help take it to the next level. We’re talking lentils, beans, soya, nuts and seeds. Bulk out a chilli with kidney beans and a curry with chickpeas. 
  • Load up on fruit and veg. Although the aim is 5 a day, feel free to go above and beyond this. A portion is 80g which is essentially a handful: 1 banana, 1/2 avocado, 1 apple, 3 heaped tablespoons of carrots or peas, 2 broccoli spears… the list goes on! Fresh, frozen and tinned all count so stock your freezer up with some frozen veg and you’ll always have something to add to your dinner. If you’re buying tinned versions, go for those that are in water or natural juice, rather than in brine or syrup.  
  • Choose healthy fats. Healthy fats generally come from plant products, for example, olive oil, rapeseed oil, nuts, seeds and avocados. The exception to this is coconut oil and palm oil which are both high in saturated fats, the type we want to eat less of. Oily fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel and sardines are high in omega-3s and it is recommended to eat a portion a week if you can.  
  • Get your calcium in. Some of the best sources of calcium in the diet are milk and dairy products. If you prefer not to drink cow’s milk, choose a milk alternative that has been fortified with calcium. Organic milks aren’t fortified but most others are. It’s worth having a look at the protein content too and choosing a milk alternative with nutrition profile to milk (compare the food labels, looking at ‘per 100ml’).  
  • Current advice is to drink no more than 14 units over the course of a week, with some alcohol-free days. If you do drink alcohol, it is important to spread this out over 3 or more days rather than drinking a large amount in one go. 14 units of alcohol is equivalent to 6 medium glasses (175ml) of wine, 6 pints of lager or 14 single measures (25ml) of a spirit (vodka/gin/rum/whiskey). Sometimes kicking back with a glass of wine is all you want after a long day but if you find you’re drinking more than the recommendations, it’s probably time to start making some changes. Easy steps like drinking more slowly, diluting drinks or alternating with alcohol-free drinks can help get you back on track.

About Monika

Your Preventicum Doctor may discuss the benefits of referring you to Monika Siemicka, an experienced Dietitian for a consultation. This online consultation will give you a better understanding of how to implement healthier lifestyle and dietary choices.

Monika has worked as a Dietitian for 14 years and during your initial consultation, she will guide you through tailored approaches to managing conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. In addition to addressing specific health concerns, Monika can also work with you to make general dietary changes with long-term benefits, including enhanced energy levels, mood and your overall wellbeing.

An online consultation with Monika will give you a better understanding of how to implement healthier lifestyle and dietary choices.

Your consultation with Monika, can include working towards:

• personalised nutrition plans

• weight management support

• nutrient deficiency prevention

• behavioural change strategies

• chronic disease management

• sports nutrition guidance

• long-term health maintenance

Monika is a media spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association and she also works with a number of charities to help communicate reliable and accurate nutrition information to the public.

Should you wish to schedule a consultation with Monika please contact us at


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