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Eat well: How to eat 5-a-day

Eat well: How to eat 5-a-day

Getting your five fruit and veg a day can be easy if you have a few clever tips up your sleeve. Here, Laura Matthews, Jamie's Head of Nutrition explains how.

It may just be me, but I seem to eat a lot more vegetables at Christmas. In particular, Christmas dinner seems to involve loads of them – Brussels sprouts, parsnips, leeks, carrots, broccoli all piled high on the table.

Sadly, for most people that doesn’t seem to be true for the rest of the year. Research by the World Cancer Research Fund in 2012 found that just one in five Britons are eating the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

Five portions may sound a lot, but in reality it shouldn’t be that difficult to achieve, especially with the amount of fruit and veg we have to choose from and all the different exciting ways they can be prepared and enjoyed.

Why should we eat fruit and veg?

Fruit and veg are so important in the diet as they are low in fat, a great source of fibre, and they help fill you up! These types of foods can help you lose weight or maintain a healthy one, and it is also thought that a diet high in fruit and veg can lower the chances of heart disease, some cancers and other health problems.

Different fruit and veg contain a variety of vitamins and minerals, so it’s important to eat a mixture of brightly coloured fruit and veg each day, because each colour indicates a different health benefit to the body.

How much should we eat?

One portion is the equivalent of 80g, which equates to one medium apple, pear or banana, two kiwi fruits, half a large courgette, half an avocado, three heaped tablespoons of tinned sweetcorn, or seven cherry tomatoes!

Another way of looking at it is that roughly a handful of fruit or veg is a portion. At this time of year, during the cold winter months it’s easy to get your five portions of fruit and veg each day. Christmas dinner aside, you can fill up on soups, stews and casseroles that are packed with lovely wintery vegetables like carrots, parsnips, sweet potato and celeriac.

Beans go really well in these types of dishes too and they go towards your five portions – but they only count as one serving of your five a day, no matter how many you eat. So whether it’s kidney, butter, cannellini, black-eyed or even the humble baked bean, they all count.

Other ways to get your 5-a-day

It shouldn’t be a chore to get your five a day, don’t forget that you can drink 1 of your 5 portions. Both Jamie and I are big fans of homemade smoothies, they are so easy to make and great for the kids as you can throw in the fruit (or veg!) that they prefer. 150ml of fruit juice or puree counts towards one portion, you can also add milk or oats to your smoothies if you wish.

For more health and nutrition info, visit our Healthy, Happier You hub.

How to eat well for £20 a week – and it’s recipes all the family can enjoy

PREPARING tasty meals doesn’t have to be expensive. You can meal-prep like a pro and shop smart to still eat healthy meals on a budget.

Gone are the days where eating on a budget meant munching on turkey twirlers and smiley-faced potatoes.

It’s now easy to achieve better health through diet by cooking up easy, healthy meals and still saving money on your weekly supermarket bills.

Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer from Feel Alive UK , makers of a range of evidence back nutrients – Alive! with 26 fruit and vegetables says:“Living Healthily for £20 per week is £2.85 per day! While it might take a little more planning, it can definitely be achieved.

“There’s lots of health-giving meals on a £20 per week budget.”

Here, Clinical Nutritionist Suzie shares her top tips to help eat well for £20 a week - and it’s meals the whole family can enjoy too…


Suzie says it is impossible to stick to a budget without a plan.

She says: “A plan - even if not on a really restrictive budget - will help you choose healthier options and ensure good variety.

“The more variety and colour variations, the more nutrients you’ll be consuming.”


A simple yet effect tip to eat well on a budget, advises Suzie, is to not shop when you're hungry.

She says: “You’ll end up loading the trolley with snacks you don’t need and buying appealing and easy ready meals which could blow the budget.

“Ready meals are often high in sugar, salt and flavourings which won’t satiate appetite for long, hence you’ll be reaching for the snacks again.”


Nutritionist Susie says shoppers will get lots of ‘bang for their buck’ when purchasing whole grain foods on their weekly food shop.

“Buckwheat, quinoa, brown rice, oats and whole wheat pasta contain plenty of nutrients because they’ve not been refined,” explains Suzie.

“They are high in protein and in fibre so they’ll fill you up and keep you feeling full, so you’ll eat less.

“You get lots of bang for your buck with these foods and they’re incredibly versatile.”


Locally-sourced produce and farmers markets tend to be cheaper because they’ve not travelled half way around the world to get to your plate, explains Suzie.

“Plus, they’ll be richer in nutrients,” she says.

She also suggested people purchase ‘imperfect’ fruit and veg from the supermarket as it’s a great way to eat well on a budget plus it saves the pennies too.

“Many supermarkets are now selling imperfect fruits and vegetables really cheaply as people don’t want to buy them because they don’t look as good.”


  • Overnight oats - Soaked overnight in a little apple juice, served with a scoop of natural yoghurt and sliced banana. (Approx. 0.50p per serving)
  • Two slices of wholemeal brown bread with half smashed avocado. (Approx. 0.70p per serving)
  • Tarka dhal - make 4-6 servings. (Approx. 0.30 p per serving)
  • Bombay potato cakes. (Approx. 0.35 p per serving)
  • Mediterranean-style veggie pasta using dried pasta, onion, tinned tomatoes, mixed beans, basil, carrots, garlic, vegetable stock, and parmesan cheese. (Approx. 0.58 p per serving)
  • Lentil spaghetti Bolognese - less than £1 per serving
  • Sweet potato and chicken curry -- less than £1 per serving


Suzie says beans and lentils are super cheap to buy and they can be chucked in with multiple family dinner recipes to make meals go further.

She says: “Beans and lentils are incredibly cheap to buy - beans are even cheaper bought dry and then soaked before using, and are great sources of protein.”

“Whole grain oats, nut butters and quinoa are also other staple, budget friendly must-haves for the cupboard.”

Suzie also shared her top recommendations for staple budget-friendly foods to keep in the fridge and cupboard.

For protein, the nutritionist suggested supermarket own brand eggs and either chicken or lamb livers as they can be used to create high protein, low fat, rich vitamin A meals.

Whole chickens are a cheap and easy way to feed a family and last a number of meals while smoked mackerel fillets have super healthy omega-3 fats and make great lunches.

The nutritionist from Feel Alive UK, says tinned baked beans, sweat potatoes, onions, bananas and frozen peas are also family food staples that come within a £20 budget.

And when choosing dairy options, Suzie advised supermarket own brand natural yoghurt as it’s essential for overall great health - and cheap!

Pandemic cooking: Americans experimenting with new recipes

Here are some of Brown's top tips for eating well while staying on a budget:

  • Don't buy drinks: Those $9 smoothies and $4 coffees should be the first thing you cut when you're looking to save some cash. Instead, try making a smoothie at home. Brown suggests looking at the displays in the produce section for what's on sale. Her current favorite — mangos!
  • Think beyond meat: Meat can be very expensive but there are other smart and inexpensive ways to get protein in your diet, from eggs and beans to peanut butter.
  • Eat the same meals: Having a menu can be extremely cost effective. Brown suggests buying an item such as oatmeal and eating it every day but switching up the toppings, such as cinnamon one day and blueberries the next to keep things interesting. Another tip — buying those fruits and veggies frozen can be a great way to save money and you'll still get all the health benefits. Bonus: those veggies are often already chopped up for you!
  • Know when to buy in bulk: Brown says those "building blocks of your meals" such as rice and pasta that you or your family eat all the time should be bought in bulk whenever possible.
  • Budget your snacks: Instead of buying those expensive pre-packaged snacks, buy or make something versatile such as popcorn and portion it out.

Brown also suggests making a one-pot meal at least once a week which will give you leftovers that you can refrigerate or freeze for later. Her biggest tip is to start with small changes so you don't get overwhelmed. Before you know it, you may find you actually like cooking — and your wallet will appreciate the effort, too.

Can You Really Eat Well on $5 a Day?

If you are accustomed to spending more than $5 a day at Starbucks, the idea that you could buy all your food for just $5 a day and eat nutritious meals takes a little adjustment. Since entrees at fast food restaurants usually cost $6 and up (except at breakfast), and even cheap sit-down restaurant meals run $12 to $14 and up, adjusting a budget of $600 a month for a family of four or $150 a month for a single person in the USA takes some new rules. Here they are.

1. Plan on doing your own cooking

You can buy a black bean enchilada for about $3. You can buy a can of black beans, enough to make 5 or 6 enchiladas, for $1.50, plus a small package of tortillas for another dollar. You can buy enough black beans from the bulk bin at the market to make 5 or 6 black bean enchiladas for about .35.

You can grab a sandwich at 7-11 for about $4. You can buy a loaf of bread and enough meat to make 6 sandwiches at 7-11 for about $5. You can use your bread maker to make a loaf of bread and cook a tiny roast to slice into an equivalent amount of sandwich meat for about $4.

If you are on a very tight budget, either because your income is small or because you are saving for a special purpose, you probably need to reserve eating out for very special occasions. But if you are eating out three times a day—why not just try eating out only twice or just once a day? You will save money and you will have total control over the content and quality of what you eat.

2. Plan on cooking ahead

The downfall of many budget diets is boredom. People try to save money by eating peanut butter sandwiches or ramen noodles at every meal—and then get so bored with their food that they go to the all-you-can eat buffet for a splurge meal. Those splurge meals wreck both diets and budgets.

To beat the need to binge, cook a variety of foods once a week and make your own frozen or refrigerated dinners and snacks. Soups, casseroles, and bean dishes actually taste better the second day. That head of broccoli that might be too much for one meal will freeze well for another meal later in the week or next week. Roast beef, chicken, and turkey can do double duty as sandwiches and soup. If your time is at a premium during the week, do most of your cooking on the weekend and do a quick warm-up for your midweek meals.

3. Make cooking a priority

National surveys find that almost all Americans watch at least 90 minutes of television every day. Sure, it's easy to plop down in front of the tube after a long day at work, but spending just 30 minutes a day cooking and cleaning up can save thousands of dollars per year—enough to fund a vacation at some resort with meals included, if you like.

Do you need more specific instructions? Keep certain items in your pantry at all times: cooking oil, spices, salt, coffee or tea, cereals you can cook for breakfast, beans (canned or dry), crackers, and any kind of canned soup you enjoy.

  • For breakfast, have eggs, oatmeal, bread for toast, jam or marmalade, and coffee on hand. All cooked cereals are inexpensive—even quinoa, which is high in amino acids, protein, and minerals.
  • For lunches, make an inexpensive salad with cabbage slaw or broccoli slaw, and fill up on noodles or a rice dish.
  • For snacks, buy apples or citrus fruit on sale. They are loaded with nutrients and you can often find them for as little as 25 cents each.
  • For dinners, buy meats you cook at home on sale. Make use of your freezer to keep leftovers, and keep noodles, rice, and potatoes on hand to fill out your plate.
  • Buy at least one fresh vegetable every week. Try to eat at least one serving nearly every day of the week.

A budget of $35 a week per person or $140 per week for a family of four is far from ideal, but it's not impossible, either. Eat to live, don't live to eat, and use the money you have left over to enjoy your life away from the table.


Today I bought some whole-wheat pasta and a can of chickpeas at the local Albertson’s. Pasta is comfort food, and it is filling and cheap. With the remaining $3.58 (including the 43 cents left over from yesterday), I went to the local Mexican market.

Breakfast: 1 banana
Lunch: Leftover squash soup, chickpea salad, and vegetable pasta
Dinner: Potato and chickpea stew with brown rice

10 affordable ways to get your 5-a-day

Tinned tomatoes

It turns out this much-used canned product is a nutritional powerhouse too. Two whole plum tomatoes count as one of your five-a-day. What’s more, tomatoes release more nutrients as they cook because the cell walls break down, which is ideal as we so often use tinned tomatoes for sauces. You can buy cans for as little as 20p and there’s often very little difference between budget and premium tins. Even expensive brands can contain preservatives to help the tomatoes stay firm. Organic canned tomatoes usually don’t, but here the cost-saving may be negated.

Try it yourself…

Frozen berries

Try it yourself…


The same benefits apply to frozen vegetables, and supermarket basic ranges offer brilliant value for money here. Frozen cauliflower, spinach, sweetcorn and green beans are ideal for cooking with. Be aware that some of the original texture can be lost in the defrosting process, but they work well added by the handful to curries, casseroles and sauces for a guaranteed nutrient boost. You can also freeze your own veg to minimise waste. Our guide gives practical tips on how to prepare things like broccoli, beans and asparagus for the freezer.

Try it yourself…


Lentils are one of our all-time favourite things to cook with. Cheap and nutritious, they act as an incredible flavour sponge, so with the right recipe they can taste sensational. Most lentils don’t need to be soaked before use, even the dried ones. Split red lentils can be the most inexpensive, usually costing just a little over £1 for a 500g bag, and are best used for soups and sauces. Firmer puy lentils are slightly more expensive but are a good option for salads. Amazingly, only three tablespoons of cooked lentils constitutes one of your five-a-day, plus they’re packed with fibre, protein and carbohydrate.

Try it yourself…


Another storecupboard favourite we can’t get enough of is chickpeas. Dried chickpeas offer the best value for money but they require soaking, so canned versions win on the convenience front. You can even use the water from the can (known as ‘aquafaba’) as a vegan substitute for egg whites. Again, you only need three tablespoons of cooked chickpeas to get one of your five-a-day. We particularly like them roasted for a snack or heavily spiced in a curry.

Try it yourself…

Canned fruit

A single tinned peach or pear provides one of your five-a-day, so a can of them should contain enough for each member of the family to get a serving. A caveat is that it usually comes in sugary syrup – and even tinned fruit in juice, rather than syrup, can contain a lot of sugar. That said, if eaten occasionally it’s a good way to sneak extra nutrition into desserts and drinks.

Try it yourself…

Sweet potato

Regular white potatoes don’t count as one of your five-a-day, but sweet potatoes do. They’re usually more expensive than traditional spuds, but as a source of complex carbohydrate they’re fantastic value for money, and like other orange fruit and veg, they contain beta-carotene. You need a whole potato to get a full portion, so use it as you would a regular potato – baked, mashed, as chips… the possibilities are limitless.

Try it yourself…

Dried fruit

Love them or loathe them, dried raisins, currants and sultanas count towards your five-a-day. Just one tablespoon equates to a portion, so think about that next time you’re pouring out your breakfast cereal, making porridge, cooking rice or garnishing a vegetarian salad.

Try it yourself…

Eat seasonal

This might sound obvious, but eating what’s in season can – but not always – be cheaper. Consult our seasonal calendar before shopping or speak to your local market stallholder or greengrocer to find out what’s in abundance. Often a glut of produce means a marked-down price.

Eat local

Food that has travelled a few miles down the road will inevitably be cheaper to get from field to fork than something that’s been flown around the world (and if this isn’t the case, ask yourself why). Markets and greengrocers can be the best means by which to eat local produce, but supermarket packaging features place of origin, so take time to read labels. Even if the cost-saving is small, it’s an eco-friendlier way to shop.

How to eat well for £20 a week: Thrifty cook reveals 7-days' worth of recipes you can enjoy on a budget

This week, we've teamed up with bargain cook Limahl Asmall to help families across the country eat well for a fraction of the price. We've started the supplement with the ingredients you'll need and the tips for your notepad

Thrifty cook Limahl Asmall was sick of eating boring meals while he was living on the breadline, so he taught himself how to cook tasty dishes for next to nothing.

Here the 31 year old Londoner exclusively shares recipes from his new book Tiny Budget Cooking so you can feed your family healthy breakfasts, lunches and dinners for less than £20 a head a week- that’s under £3 a day.

Over the course of the week, stay tuned here, as we&aposll be bringing you your meal plans for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Stick to Limahl&aposs ingredients list and you&aposre guaranteed to have no wastage left over.

Limahl&aposs tips to stop you overspending

I’ve spent the past 10 years eating my way to budget-food happiness and now I want to share my knowledge with you.

I’m on a mission to show you that good, fresh home-cooked food is easy and fun to make, and – most importantly – can be personalised to your taste buds and lifestyle.

All you need is a simple kitchen, this recipe plan and the confidence to give things a go, and you’ll be feasting on delicious meals each week, all made on a tiny budget.

Nutrition is so important for body and mind, and my plan loosely follows an 80:20 rule: 80 per cent of the time you’ll be feasting on balanced nutritious food and, well, for the other 20 per cent, let’s just say we all need the occasional heap of fluffy pancakes or a hot chicken and cheddar melt.

I recommend making a big batch of the Granola at the start of this week. It will keep well in a sealed container for a couple of weeks and makes a delicious breakfast or snack.

Basic ingredients are not included in the shopping lists so make sure you always have chicken, beef or vegetable stock cubes, salt and pepper, caster sugar and olive oil in your store cupboards. Happy cooking.

Eat well for less with Limahl Asmall

1. Buy in season

The good news is that when fruit and vegetables hit peak production they are often lowered in price. From carrots to courgettes, cucumbers to parsnips, if you shop seasonally you will save money.

Seasonal produce grown locally will also save on air-freight miles which reduces the impact on the planet. That’s win-win!

Supermarket deals

2. Where to shop

Many of us don’t live near a supermarket and will make frequent trips to the local corner shop throughout the week.

I agree we should all support our local shops, but if you are on a tight budget, making that one weekly trip to a large supermarket will bring down the cost of your food bill and give you a better choice of own-brand ingredients.

You can always shop locally if you missed something – in cities, head to your local fruit and veg market as you’ll often pick up fresh produce cheaper than at the supermarkets.

Cut your supermarket bill

3. When to shop

Ask when supermarkets discount produce, then search out the reduced-price aisle for meats with a day left on their ‘use by date’. These meats are perfect eaten straight away or for buying in bulk and freezing for up to 3 months.

Freeze immediately, then, once defrosted, use them on the same day.

Don’t go food shopping when hungry. It’s been proven that you’ll end up spending more – usually on stuff you don’t need.

Read More
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4. Check the price

An excellent way to save money is to compare the ‘per kg’ price and choose the cheaper option.

This is an especially good tip when deciding between packaged or loose vegetables, as you’re likely to find the loose veg cheaper. It’s also better for the planet less packaging equals fewer mountains of landfill waste.

Pre-trimmed vegetables or pre-grated cheese will certainly be more expensive. Why buy these when you can do this at home in seconds? Add it all up and you could easily save £100 a year.

5. Buy big flavours

Budget cooking is all about the clever use of ingredients. It’s a game of flavour combinations, where the addition of ‘big flavours’ can transform recipes from mundane into mouth-watering.

A good tip is to identify the big flavours that you like, make a list and start adding these ingredients into your recipes. Examples are mustard, tinned sardines, bacon, feta cheese, lemon or lime,

If you cook like this, expensive meat doesn’t have to be the centre of a meal. You can use less and still eat well.

6. Buy in bulk

If your weekly budget can stretch to it, buy bigger packs of long-life ingredients such as rice, canned goods, frozen produce and toilet paper.

This can often reduce the per-portion price, and unlike fresh ingredients they will not spoil before you get around to using them. If you live in shared accommodation, why not join together and bulk-buy household items? This is a good way to save money.

The shopping list: What you&aposll need for the meal plan

Here I&aposve made up a shopping list that you can use to follow the mealplan.

It’s a big ask to cook breakfast each morning, so I’ve split the shopping lists into two.

The first list is for lunch and dinners only. The second list is the additional ingredients you would need to follow the complete Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner plan.

The meal plan will let you make everything from chicken with spring greens, to smashed avocado on toast and sticky pork and burritos.

We&aposll be putting recipes live each day for you to cook at home - day one has a breakfast crumble with apple and honey to start the day, followed by a butterbean and chorizo soup for lunch and roast chicken with Boulangere potatoes for dinner.

They&aposre all simple to make - and many take as little as 15 minutes to prepare.

Chef Richard Blais Cooks Up 11 Healthy Meals With Just $50 Worth of Groceries

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Grocery List:
2 sweet potatoes
2 gala apples
1 green pepper
1/2 pound kale
1 (5-ounce) chicken breast
1 (5-ounce) salmon
1 box of whole wheat pasta
1 clove of garlic
1 butternut squash
3/4 pound plum tomatoes
1 can of lentils
1 can of black beans
8 ounces of quinoa
Steel cut oatmeal
1 small package of blueberries
1 small package of strawberries
16 ounces Greek yogurt
1 cucumber
1 small loaf of 100% whole grain or 100% whole wheat bread
12 eggs

From the Pantry:
Sea salt
Balsamic vinaigrette dressing
2 sticks of butter
Italian seasoning mix
Your preferred brand of seasoning salt

Seared Salmon with Cucumber Yogurt + Apple
Salmon gets salted and seated in a non stick pan
Cucumber and garlic get grated into yogurt and seasoned w Italian seasoning
Apple & Kale get shredded and tossed w balsamic dressing

Pasta with Kale, Garlic, Tomatoes + Oil
Boil pasta in salted water.
In a nonstick pan, cook sliced tomatoes, garlic, and kale until they release an aroma -- not burnt but well cooked.
Pour the pasta directly into the pan and toss in a few tablespoons of butter to coat the noodles.

Slice kale into super thin strips.
Chop and mix in tomatoes, green peppers, strawberries, blueberries, apples, cucumber, and leftover chicken you may have in your fridge. If you&rsquore cooking fresh chicken, just season with Mrs. Dash and cook in a pan until just done.
Toss all of these ingredients in a simple vinaigrette of balsamic vinegar and EVOO.

In a bowl, mix together 5 eggs.
In a separate pan, cook up some kale, green peppers, and garlic with Italian seasoning and salt until they begin to release their aroma.
Take the cooked vegetables and add them to your eggs.
Put it all in a cast iron pan and bake at a high temperature for 5 or so minutes.

Black Bean Hummus

Take one can of black beans and pour into a pot. Add a little bit of water and 1-2 cloves of garlic.
Cook until just warm.
Throw the beans into a blender and mix until they&rsquore the consistency of hummus.
Spread onto whole wheat toast and top with some shredded kale and blueberries.

Lentils with Salmon and Blueberries
Take one can of lentils and pour into a pot. Add a little water, garlic, salt, Italian seasonings, and a squirt or two of balsamic vinegar.
Reduce until the mixture becomes stew-like.
Cook salmon with salt and pepper in a non-stick pan for 2 minutes on each side.
Put the finished lentils in a bowl, top with salmon, and finish with blueberries.

Chicken Salad with Yogurt
In a bowl, mix olive oil, balsamic vinegar, greek yogurt, garlic, cucumbers, chopped apples, and shredded kale. Mix in some chopped chicken.
Spread the mixture on top of some whole wheat toast.
*I would have loved to add mustard to this, so if you have some at home, add it in! You can also substitute some apple cider vinegar for the balsamic.

Butternut Squash Soup

Place chopped butternut squash (with peel removed) in a microwave safe container and submerge in water.
Microwave for 6-8 minutes or until soft (squash should fall apart when you pierce it with a fork).
Throw cooked squash into a blender and add a few spoonfuls of the used water, salt, and pepper. Blend the squash until it becomes soup.
Garnish with croutons (made by toasting wheat bread) and blueberries.

Risotto Oatmeal
Take some steel cut oatmeal and cook it in 3 times its amount of water (3 cups of water per 1 cup of oatmeal). Cook until super tender.
Add salt, butter, and some Italian seasonings.
*Man do I wish we had some cheese! At home, please add a little bit of grated parmesan cheese to make it more risotto-esque. You can also replace water with chicken stock.

Loaded Sweet Potatoes
Take your sweet potatoes, cut them in half, and cook them in the microwave for about 5 minutes until they&rsquore super tender.
Open them up and add in some chopped kale and leftover roasted chicken. Top with garlic yogurt sauce.

Traditional Oatmeal with Berries

Take steel cut oatmeal and cook it in 3 times its amount of water (3 cups of water per 1 cup of oatmeal). Cook until it&rsquos super tender.
Top with blueberries and strawberries.
*We didn&rsquot have any cinnamon or vanilla, but if you have them at home, add them! These are amazing ingredients that give food the impression of sweetness without adding sugar.

The Aftermath
Cook your quinoa according to package instructions.
Take all your leftovers from the above dishes and mix them in! For my bowl, I started with some leftover butternut squash soup, then added in a scoop of lentils, a scoop of quinoa, a scoop of black beans, and a little bit of kale salad. Top with a little smear of yogurt sauce and a fried egg.

How Being Optimistic Can Actually Help You Live Longer, According to Science

A sunny outlook doesn’t just mean feeling happier in the present. Research has shown that being positive can help stave off disease and lead to a healthier, longer life. Plus, we have tips on how to help you be more optimistic.

In 2019, researched from Boston University found evidence suggesting that optimistic people live longer than pessimists. The researchers found that those who scored higher on an optimism assessment were more likely to live past the age of 85. The study, which was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, followed women enrolled in the Nurses&apos Health Study and men in the Veterans Affairs Normative Aging Study over a long-term period. The women had been followed since 1976, and in 2004 they completed a six-question optimism assessment. Their survival was recorded until 2014. The researchers had followed the men since 1961, and in 1986 the men completed a baseline assessment with 263 true or false statements about their experiences and their outlook on life. People with higher optimism levels at the start of the study were more likely to be physically active and less likely to have health conditions, such as depression and diabetes. But even when researchers looked beyond those factors, there was still a connection between optimism and a longer life span.

There is a growing recognition that optimism and positivity influence our health. Not only does a brighter outlook tend to lead to healthier habits, but there is also significant research to suggest that looking at the glass half full can help ward off chronic diseases, such as heart disease, and add years to our lives.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins Medicine found that people with a family history of heart disease who had a positive outlook were one-third less likely to have a heart attack or other cardiovascular event within five to 25 years than those with a more negative outlook. The finding held even in people with family history who had the most risk factors for coronary artery disease. The study included 1,483 healthy people with siblings who had experienced some sort of coronary event (including heart attack and sudden cardiac death) before age 60. The study participants were followed for 25 years and filled out surveys about their well-being, life satisfaction, anxiety levels, mood and level of health concern. "The siblings at highest risk for coronary artery disease, who had more positive well-being, were 50% less likely to have a coronary artery disease event," says Lisa R. Yanek, M.P.H., assistant professor of medicine and co-director of the GeneSTAR Research Center at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, who led the 2013 study. "We are especially interested in anything that may reduce risk for the people who are at highest risk for disease."

There is a chicken-and-egg paradox at play with the research surrounding optimism and health, points out William Lamson, Ph.D., a psychologist at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian. "[Optimists] tend to be more consistent in their healthy habits. They tend to get better sleep and to actually eat more fruits and vegetables. Now is this a function of [them being] so optimistic that they are hopeful and they think this is helpful for them, so they live in this way? Or is it these healthy behaviors that are actually driving these health benefits?"

It may be due to what is going on in an optimist&aposs brain versus a pessimist&aposs. "If we&aposre tending to look at a future and we&aposre kind of seeing brightness, we&aposre tending to look at life events and we&aposre not seeing adversity, we&aposre not seeing doom or danger. And we&aposre kind of hopeful about that, we&aposre going to have a little bit more serotonin," says Lamson. Serotonin is the hormone that stabilizes our moods and contributes to our overall feelings of well-being. It functions as a neurotransmitter that carries signals between nerve cells along the central nervous system. Not only does serotonin regulate our mood, it helps our health in other ways, from facilitating sleep to promoting blood clotting to aiding digestion.

How do you go about crafting an optimistic outlook? Lamson suggests that simple everyday things, such as going outside, scheduling Zoom calls with loved ones or even scheduling other daily activities, can build a routine that helps people look at the glass as half full. "If I can get all of my patients to do one thing, it would be just taking a walk or exercising three times a week," says Lamson. Jessica Stern, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at NYU Langone Health, finds that gratitude journaling helps her feel nourished and reminds her of the moments in her life that make her happy.

Promising research also suggests that certain foods can have a direct impact on mental health and mood. "There is evidence that bacteria in the gut-there&aposs more bacteria there than there are human cells in a body-produce neurochemicals like serotonin. Some studies indicate that the gut is actually making the vast majority of the serotonin for our body," says Ginger Hultin, M.S., R.D., the Seattle-based author of Anti-Inflammatory Diet Meal Prep. Hultin explains that gut bacteria thrive in an environment where fibrous foods are moving through, so think lots of vegetables, whole grains, beans, lentils and fruit. Bananas in particular are a great snack. They contain fiber as well as complex carbohydrates, potassium, vitamin C and vitamin B6. "B6 is important to brain health because it is essential for the production of the hormone serotonin," says Hultin. "Other foods high in B6 include avocados, pistachios, sweet potatoes, tofu and meat."

While loading up on brain-friendly nutrients can help, stress can lead to some food habits that do more harm than good. Who hasn&apost reached for something sweet or salty when they&aposre feeling stressed or anxious? However, multiple studies have found a connection between foods high in refined sugars and worsening symptoms of mood disorders, such as depression. Hultin cautions that it&aposs not as if you eat one of these foods and your brain takes immediate damage. "Many of these outcomes are longer term-the overconsumption of highly processed food over time causing high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes. All can cause blood flow issues and more negative outcomes in brain health," says Hultin. "I guide my clients to looking at their overall dietary pattern over time rather than a one-food-at-a-time approach."

Beyond lifestyle tweaks, evidence-based therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, are the bread and butter of strengthening mental health not just to look on the bright side, but to manage life stressors that can trigger negative health outcomes. "What I tell people is that therapy is proactive or offensive rather than being reactive or defensive," says Stern, who adds that therapy is a way to strengthen one&aposs toolbox to weather life&aposs stresses.

Stern hopes that if we can apply a new narrative to the concept of therapy, it can destigmatize the practice. "And so rather than thinking about [therapy] as a way of mitigating or minimizing risk or weakness, instead think about it as building strength, building muscle, building healthy dental care, which can be preventative in the long run," says Stern. "Oftentimes we think about mental health as a way to fix issues or to come back from a bad state that we&aposre in. And what I really like about this concept of focusing on optimism and on the psychology is that it allows us to think about our mental health from a strength-based approach and a preventative approach. I like to think about it as sort of learning to dance in the rain. We might not be able to control the rain or the weather at all, but if we learn to dance in the rain, it makes life easier and makes us feel more prepared to navigate any type of unexpected situation."

Here's What's Included

The eBook (110 standard pages) — $37 value — The main part of the program is the eBook "How to Eat Well on a Plant-Based Diet for $5 or Less per Day" by Frederic Patenaude.

This is a full-sized eBook (110 standard pages), with material never published before, containing everything you need to get started (including recipes!).

Cheatsheet to Take to the Store— $20 value — You'll also get an amazing cheatsheet showing you exactly how to tell if a food is a good deal or not, and what are the maximum amounts to pay for each category of food!

Also includes a pocket version that you can keep with your wallet at all time to know when a food is a good deal or not!

Eat well for less day 5: Saturday's breakfast, lunch and dinner menu

All this week, we&aposll be bringing you new recipes for your breakfast, lunch and dinner - on a mission to get you eating well for less.

That&aposs because teamed up with bargain cook Limahl Asmall, who wants to prove you don&apost have to spend a fortune every week to eat delicious food.

If you want to follow his seven day meal plan, you&aposll have to invest in these ingredients . They&aposll cover two people, 21 recipes and cost just £20 - and don&apost worry, it&aposs all readily available at your local supermarket.

Have a scroll for day 5&aposs recipes below.

Or, join the club at any time here:

Eat well for less with Limahl Asmall

To find out more about smart cooking, have a read of Limahl&aposs receipt book Tiny Budget Cooking.

Read More
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Start the day: Egg and courgette roll ups

Serves 2: Ready in 10 minutes

1 spring onion, finely chopped

Feel free to add:

1 tbsp coriander / 1 rasher of crispy bacon


Grate the courgette then scoop it up and give it a gentle squeeze over the sink to remove the excess liquid.

Add two of the eggs to a mug or bowl, whisk together with a fork and season well with salt and pepper.

Pour a teaspoon of oil into a non-stick frying pan over a medium-hot heat. When it is hot, pour in the eggs. Rotate the pan to create a large, even omelette, then lower the temperature slightly.

As soon as the liquid egg has set, add half of the grated courgette, cheddar and spring onion in a line along pancake.

Wait another 20 seconds for the pancake to firm up, then carefully roll it using a spatula and your fingers. Be careful not to touch the hot pan!

Turn the roll over every 30 seconds to get the outside nice and golden. Serve to your significant other, then repeat the process for yourself.

Lunch: Asian slaw wraps

Serves 2: Ready in 12 minutes

¼ red cabbage, finely sliced

¼ white cabbage, finely sliced

2 spring onions, finely chopped

1 pepper (any colour), cut into long thin slices

Feel free to add:

100g cooked chicken or pork, shredded

Secrets of the supersavers


Place the sliced cabbage in a large bowl along with the grated carrot, half of the chopped spring onion and the pepper slices. Throw in the chopped coriander and mix
it all together.

In a separate bowl, add the hoisin sauce, peanut butter, lime juice, grated ginger, grated garlic and the remaining spring onion. Mix together to form a delicious paste.

Lay out two wraps and spread the paste equally across both. Pile on the salad and roll up your wraps.

Dinner: Orzo pork and peas

Serves 2: Ready in 15 minutes

3 pork shoulder steaks (about250–300g), cut into 2–3cm pieces

Handful of spinach leaves


Bring a saucepan of 600ml water to the boil and add the orzo to pan. Let it bubble away for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the butter, bay leaf and pork to a non-stick frying pan. Stir-fry over a medium heat for three minutes.

Add the garlic to the pan and fry for another three minutes. Pour in 100ml boiling water and dissolve chicken stock cube in the pan. Cover with a lid or plate and cook over a low temperature for seven minutes.

One minute before the orzo is ready, add the frozen peas to the saucepan and continue to cook, then drain the orzo and peas and add both to the frying pan with the pork.

Add the spinach and stir through until it has wilted. Season with a pinch of pepper, top with the grated cheddar and serve.

Watch the video: 4 Tips on How to Eat Right Sadhguru