Is your diet healthy? goodtoknow user Caroline let nutritionist Monica Grenfell take a look at her daily food diary to see if she could make any improvements
Caroline Moisy’s food diary
Name: Caroline Moisy
Lifestyle: Married with no children, Caroline works mainly from home as a Recruitment Consultant. She shares the shopping and cooking with her husband, and makes sure they have a home-cooked meal in the evening…
Caroline says: ‘Breakfast is often skipped, as is lunch. I get up and start working and the time seems to fly by. I drink tea and coffee and just don’t feel very hungry. However, if I have breakfast it might be porridge or a bagel with butter.
For lunch I usually have a cheese sandwich – I am mad about cheese and eat a lot of it. But if I have eaten breakfast I might skip lunch.
‘I always cook dinner for myself and my husband. I always try to have a variety of meals across the week, like fish, chicken and vegetables. I tend not to have ready-meals but do buy fresh pasta ready-filled with spinach and Ricotta.
My favourite snacks are cheese, nuts and chocolate.
‘I know my diet is erratic and while I skip breakfast, I end up craving something and therefore eat things like cheese and lots of it! My husband has high cholesterol, so we tend to eat a low-cholesterol diet. I have good intentions to eat fruit and often buy it, but don’t eat it. I’m not fond of fruit.
‘I weigh 9st 7lbs and am 5ft 7in but would like to be 9 stone. I think the only meal I eat which I consider to be healthy is my evening meal. I know I haven’t got the best diet, but to be honest, I think I’m just very lazy about it.’
Caroline’s typical daily meals
Breakfast: Porridge or bagel with butter, or nothing.
Lunch: Cheese sandwich.
Dinner: Grilled chicken with vegetables, roast salmon with roasted vegetables.
Occasional snacks: Chocolate or cheese.
One of the pitfalls of working from home is the lack of routine
translates to meals. Caroline should get into the habit of ‘going to
work’ in her mind, and sitting down to 20 minutes of breakfast before
she thinks of going to her office.
Porridge is a good choice, as it’s a good source of soluble fibre, and
the addition of low-fat milk and honey, or maybe half a banana and some
sultanas, would make this a healthy and quick meal.
Caroline could do with some extra fibre and adding a banana or other
fruit (especially dried) to her porridge will help with this. Skimmed
milk or semi-skimmed milk is best if Caroline is concerned about her
cholesterol level, as it is lower in saturated fat than wholemilk.
Caroline’s diet may also be low in iron, and this is very common in
women of her age. Some cereals are high in iron, providing as much as
half the daily recommended intake of 14g, so she could try having cereal
as an alternative to porridge on some days (but she should check labels
before buying as levels vary between cereals).
Some breakfast alternatives:
1. Wholegrain muesli with a sprinkling of nuts, which are high-fibre, and a tbs plain yogurt for extra calcium.
2. Low-salt baked beans on wholemeal toast 3. Fresh-fruit salad with yogurt.
Caroline’s cheese sandwich and nibbling on cheese is such a routine that
she’s probably consuming quite a lot of cheese throughout the week.
Although nutritious and a good source of calcium and protein, cheese is
high in salt and saturated fat. Caroline needs to introduce more variety
into her protein choices at lunchtime, such as fish, eggs or meat.
Some lunch alternatives
1. A home-prepared colourful mixed salad with some added tuna fish or
cold meats will be quick, easy and nutritious. Tinned tuna come in
brine, spring water or olive or vegetable oil. She could check GDA
labels, as the brine is high in salt. Some fresh vegetable or lentil
soup would give her added fibre and energy. The addition of some
multi-grain bread and a lower-fat spread would help to keep her fat, and
more importantly for cholesterol, the saturated fat intake down.
2. Fresh vegetable or lentil soup. If Caroline is concerned about her
salt intake, she could check the GDA label and look for soup that is
lower in salt. Wholemeal or multi-grain bread is a good addition and
provides extra fibre.
3. Scrambled eggs on wholemeal toast.
4. Half an avocado with a few prawns
5. The addition of fruit or yogurt after lunch.
Caroline’s dinner choices are good, and she makes a big effort to
provide a healthy meal. I recommend red meat twice a week as it’s high
in iron. Dinner could be improved with jacket potatoes for extra
carbohydrate, vitamin C and fibre from the skins and colourful salads
with peppers, which provide a high level of vitamin C and antioxidants.
Some dinner alternatives:
1. Roasted cod or haddock with pureed winter vegetables like parsnip and
2. Sardines, either grilled or tinned, grilled on toast: sardines are
very high in calcium and omega 3 oils but do check GDA labels if you
want to find a variety with lower salt and fat levels.
3. Beef or lamb curry or chilli, with brown rice, adds protein, iron and
4. Seafood pasta – crab and prawns are high in the minerals zinc and
selenium which are essential antioxidants, which may help protect
against cancers and are important nutrients for the immune system.
A few squares of dark chocolate or cheese are fine now and then, for
example after a meal, but avoid eating too much of them! Check out the
GDA value to see how these foods fit into your daily diet.
Alternative snack ideas:
1. Piece of fresh fruit or a handful of dried fruit and a few nuts.
2. Banana and plain yoghurt 3. Vegetable crisps (check the GDA labels for salt and fat)
4. Slice of wholemeal toast with with a lower-fat spread and Marmite.
Again, it might be a good idea to check the GDA labels for salt.
1. Try and allow at least 20 minutes for breakfast and lunch.
2. Try to balance out your calorie intake throughout the day to maintain
energy levels – a good plan is to have roughly 20% of your 2,000
calorie GDA for breakfast, ie 400 calories, 30% each for lunch and
dinner (600 calories each) and two 10% of GDA (200 calorie) snacks
throughout the day.
3. You could try starting each meal with a slice of melon, some low-fat
vegetable soup or glass of tomato or vegetable juice to take the edge of
your appetite and help you fill up and provide valuable fluids and
vitamins. Remember, you need to have at least 5 helpings of different
fruits and vegetables each day.
4. If it looks like a meal will be missed, try making a smoothie from
milk and a banana, adding almonds and honey. This will be a nutritious
meal providing protein, vitamin E, fibre and potassium and can be
enjoyed while working or travelling.
5. End meals with a fruit yogurt. We all need calcium to maintain
healthy, strong bones and teeth and help prevent osteoporosis.
6. A batch of toasted pine nuts is convenient to toss into salad, or
added to a pan of stir-fried vegetables. They also go well with avocado.