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.
- 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.
- 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.