Healthy nutrition – ESC volunteers researching Slovenia

Despite the fact that Slovenia is a very small country, its food traditions are among the most famous in Europe. Each region – including the lovely Mediterranean, the gorgeous Alps, and the Thermal Pannonian plain – has its own special dishes and nutrition habits. BUT!

Several studies on dietary habits of the Slovenian population show that Slovenians tend to eat unhealthily. In 2019, 19 % of adults in Slovenia were obese and more than one fifth (21%) of Slovenian 15-year-olds were overweight or obese in 2018, which is above the EU average. The wrong eating rhythm, high intake of saturated fats and sugars and low intake of fruits and vegetables are some of the food-related problems Slovenia has. This significantly affects the incidence of cardio-vascular disease, such as myocardial infarction and stroke, as well as the development of diabetes and cancer. 


It is really important to promote food safety education and healthy dietary habits among people, especially adolescents and youth. It is also important to convey to people this information in a simple, accessible language, using as few scientific concepts as possible.

In this article, we will try to give you some useful simple tips on healthy eating that can significantly improve your life. 

  1. Eat regularly. Eat at least three times a day. The body perceives any lack of nutrition as the onset of hunger and – when the next meal comes – begins to create reserves in the body: fat deposits. Long breaks between meals that exceed 12 hours (the so-called intermittent fasting) can also lead to reduction of muscle mass (no good). Optimal breaks between meals – no more than 5 hours, the last meal – 3 hours before bedtime. At night – no food. With this mode, you will not overeat or feel hungry.
  2. Vegetables and fruits – every day. The easiest way to get the portion you need – is to fill half of your plate with greens and vegetables every time you have a meal. In total per day – at least 400 grams. For the visual aid: one medium-sized apple – 176 grams, pear – 130 grams, kiwi 75-85 grams, tomato – 140 grams, cucumber – 132 grams. Give preference to local and fresh vegetables. And be careful with fruits – they contain a lot of sugar.

      3. Limit refined sugar. If you think sugar is bad for you, you are wrong. Sugar is the perfect fuel for your body. However, it can also be deadly. How is it possible? 

The perfect fuel we have mentioned is glucose. Insufficient glucose intake impairs the blood supply to the brain and spinal cord, leads to weakness, drowsiness and a decrease in intellectual abilities. However, we rarely eat it by itself – it’s mainly a component of carbohydrates – and not all of them are sweet (a few examples: bread (flour), rice, oatmeal). That means you might meet the need for glucose by eating no sweets at all. The more whole the food is, the better.

What about the deadly part? That’s the sugar that has been processed, in other words: ‘undressed’. It can cause many unpleasant things: from hormonal imbalance to many chronic diseases. The names on products you should avoid contain: maple syrup, corn syrup, sugar, fructose – to name a few. 

4. Limit salt. Try to consume less than 5 grams of salt per day (equivalent to about one teaspoon). You most likely did not know that only 20 percent of the total amount of salt consumed is that which we add during cooking and eating. Be aware that salt is found in almost all products, especially in sausages, cheeses, tomato paste, sauces, chips, etc. Do not salt your food while cooking. This also applies to the water in which you are going to boil pasta, vegetables or rice. As in the case of sugar, not eating salt at all – is not good. Keep the balance. 

5. Drink only water. For the normal functioning of the body, a human needs 28-35 ml of water per kilogram of body weight, i.e. about 2-3 liters per day. If you eat normally, you get most of the water from food, such as fruits and vegetables, soups etc. Do not “drink” calories, such as juices, carbonated and energetic drinks, flavored water. There can be up to 10 teaspoons of sugar in one glass of sweet soda. If you pass by the section with sweet drinks in the supermarket – show willpower and do not buy anything!



6. Diversify your food. Monotonous food deprives you of pleasure and does not provide the body with all the necessary nutrients. Choose and combine healthy products in the menu: vegetables, greens, meat, fish, nuts, dairy products, legumes, wholegrain bread and cereals, durum wheat pasta, berries, fruits. Eat more plant origin foods rather than animal, because plant-based foods have a beneficial effect on digestion and provide a healthy intestinal microflora.



Last but not least.


 7. Control the balance. It is not healthy to eat too much or too little food.









Our ESC experience in No Excuse: beginning

Nice to meet you, No Excuse!

So here we are. In the cozy office in the center of charming Ljubljana. Hard to believe it’s been two months since we began our journey as volunteers from the European Solidarity Corps in No Excuse.

About us

We are Maria and Mykhailo, but as Ukrainians are used to, everyone shortens our names as Maša and Miša. We are a young married couple from Kyiv finding ourselves in this great adventure of life.

Miša: For the last 4 years I have lived in Greece, as I studied at the Faculty of Theology there. I have always been eager to learn something new and I’m considering the ESC volunteering as the first step towards a new life.

Maša: Last year I received a bachelor’s degree in journalism and social communication but I’m not really into it, however communication is my pleasure. In addition, my little passion is photography – I’ve been working as a freelance photographer in Ukraine for a couple of years.

Why are we here?

We have always been obsessed with traveling and have heard a lot about Slovenia and its culture but have never been here. Slovenia has the sea and the mountains – in the spring, you can go skiing in the morning and swim in the sea in the afternoon! You can also travel from Slovenia for a day to another neighboring country and it will take no more than one hour. It’s amazing, isn’t it?

The war that continues in our country was a huge eye-opener that taught us not to wait for a “right” time for anything – just do it now and it will be the best choice. That’s why we started to look for an ESC volunteering offer and the most desirable was to find one in Slovenia.

We are very pleased to be a part of No Excuse especially because we share the values of the organization, and we are really interested in all topics of work they do. So, it’s going to be a wonderful and productive experience!

How is it going?

Our goals for this nine months of volunteering are quite simple but fascinating! Firstly, it’s important to get more competences about sustainable development, especially the third goal of it – good health and wellbeing. Also we are eager to gain experience in the development of skills, methods and tools for working with youth and working in a team. We want to learn new things and skills and keep the knowledge with us for life, improving it.

Actually, our first impressions are positive! We are getting involved in the organization’s work, joining some creative processes, researching the field of sustainable development and improving skills in the communication area. We’ve met a lot of new people with different experiences and a lot of knowledge in topics that we are interested in, so that we are happy to work with them.

In our free time we explore Slovenia – the nature here is jaw-dropping and we are impressed with the hospitality and cheerfulness of Slovenians, therefore we feel at home and fell in love with this country!

Trying to become a little bit Slovenian and really expect the next seven months to be very enjoyable 🙂


P.S. Hope to see you somewhere around, as far as until the end of May, we will be a part of local life in Ljubljana!

Maša and Miša