Topic: Personal finance December 11, 2019
Author: Neil Cubley

10 tips for a healthier 2020

Bank of Ireland Financial Healthcheck
2 MIN READ

Make a healthy start to the new year with our 10 top tips for greater wellbeing.

1 Start small, but start soon

The idea of making dramatic changes to your lifestyle right away can sound appealing.

But big changes like these tend not to last.

“Make small, sustainable changes that last”


Improvements are more likely to stick if you start small and gradually build them into your life, one at a time.

So for healthy, long-lasting results, take one or two of these tips and try them out for a week to see what works for you before trying some more.

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2 Eat more fruit and veg

Experts at Healthy Ireland* recommend we eat up to 7 portions of fruit and veg each day.

Sound like too much worthy chomping?

Here are some healthy hacks to help get you started.

  • Try chopping up fruit and veg in advance so that you have it handy when hit by a snack attack.
  • Have bags of frozen veg in your freezer so you can chuck some into stews, pasta sauces and curries when you make them.
  • Sneak some tomato, lettuce, grated carrot and cucumber into your lunchtime sandwich.
  • Add some dried fruit to your breakfast cereal.

“Make it easier to be healthy by preparing fruit and veg snacks before hunger strikes”

Safefood has some healthy recipes for meals* on their website.

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3 Go for the ‘good’ fats

Fats, spreads and oils provide essential fats but experts recommend that you only use them in very small amounts.

The World Health Organization* suggests that we get less than 30% of our total daily energy intake from fats.

Choose to eat less butter, processed meat and full fat products.

Swap them for heart-healthy fats like nuts, seeds and oily fish instead.

This change may help you manage your cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke according to Irish Heart Foundation*.

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4 Shun that salt

Limit the amount of salt you eat.

That doesn’t just mean putting down the salt shaker, because there’s salt you might not notice in processed foods, too.

So read the label to see how much salt (sodium chloride) is in your pizza or ready meal.

“Start scrutinising food labels to discover how much sugar and salt is in your favourite foods”

Still tempted to add salt to a meal?

Healthy hack: try adding black pepper, herbs and spices instead to keep your taste buds entertained.


5 Slash the sugar

It’s also a good idea to limit the amount of sugar you consume.

Like salt, sugar isn’t just found in the sugar bowl, it’s in colas and fizzy drinks, yoghurt drinks, breakfast cereals, ready meals and sauces.

So read the labels on these products to see how much sugar they contain.

As a guide, a teaspoon of sugar is 4 grams.

And the World Health Organisation* advises eating no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar each day (25 grams).

How healthy are your finances? Take 2 minutes to check with the Bank of Ireland financial healthcheck.

6 Visit the food pyramid 

Plates have got bigger, portions have grown and we’re eating more than we used to.

According to Healthy Ireland*, we should think of different food groups as levels in a food pyramid*.

At the bottom of the pyramid, the widest level, is fruit and veg – adults can eat up to 7 servings of them a day.

Above them is wholemeal cereal, bread, potatoes, pasta and rice – adults can eat up to 5 servings a day.

The next level up is milk, yoghurt and cheese – adults can eat 3 servings a day.

Meat, poultry, fish eggs, beans and nuts – adults can eat 2 servings a day.

Fats, spreads and oils – very small amounts.

Food and drink high in fat, sugar and salt – not every day.

“The food pyramid has the healthier foods at the base and the less healthy ones at the top”

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7 Get moving

If you haven’t exercised in a while, start small by walking for 25 minutes, three days a week, or spending 10 mins in front of an exercise video every other day.**

Healthy hack: try to build exercise into your everyday routines.

Walk or cycle instead of driving to local shops or to work.

Walk up and down the stairs at work instead of using the lift.

Get off the bus a stop earlier and walk to your destination from there.

Visit the Get Ireland Active website* for tips on how to start exercising safely.

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8 Make sure you drink more water

We tend not to drink enough water each day.

As a general guide, the HSE* suggests that, in Ireland:

“You should drink about 1.2 litres (six to eight glasses) of fluid every day to prevent dehydration.”

Try substituting water for sugary drinks to get both the water you need and cut down on sugar at the same time.

Plain water a little too plain for your tastes?

Make up a bottle or jug of water and add a few cucumber slices, lime, lemon or strawberries to make it more flavoursome.

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9 Try going dry 

We all know that too much alcohol is not good for our health but it’s also high in sugar and calories.

Why not reduce the number of days a week you drink alcohol and how much you drink?

Or try going ‘dry’ for January and see what difference it makes to your health and your finances.

Visit askaboutalcohol* to work out the impact of alcohol on your health, finances and weight.

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10 Ditch diets

Don’t focus on how many pounds or kilos you can lose on a diet but on eating healthier foods and being more active instead.

Try to eat a healthy, balanced diet rather than skipping groups of foods with the latest must-do diet.

You might want to keep a food diary to have a record of what you actually eat and drink and when.

“Understanding your eating habits is the first step to changing them.”

Set realistic goals and reward yourself when you meet them.

For healthy ways to lose weight visit safefood*.

Find out more

How healthy are your finances?

Take 2 minutes to check them with the Bank of Ireland financial healthcheck.

You can get more tips for a healthier lifestyle from Healthy Ireland* a government-led, health and wellbeing initiative.

*Clicking on this link takes you away from Bank of Ireland website. Bank of Ireland is not responsible for the content of these websites.

**Always talk to your doctor before beginning a new exercise routine.

Topic: Personal finance December 11, 2019
Author: Neil Cubley

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