Keeping Healthy on the Inside: How to eat right and stay fit
Prison food usually brings up images of pretty basic fare, three meals a day slopped onto a tray. You may have little control over everyday routines including food, meals and mealtimes. However, you can still improve your health and lifestyle while you’re inside. A healthier lifestyle can help boost your immune systems, reduce illness and injuries, improve your mood – it can even develop your sense of self-belief and confidence.
What is a healthy balanced diet?
Healthy eating doesn’t mean surviving solely on “rabbit food”. Variety and moderation are the keys to good nutrition.
As well as eating more fruit and vegies, try to eat foods high in protein. This includes meat, chicken, eggs, fish, beans, lentils and dairy products. Protein is used by your body for building and repairing muscle.
Try to eat plenty of bread and cereals because they provide energy for physical activity and they keep your body functioning properly.
Remember that choosing these healthy foods will be less advantageous if you also choose less healthy food options like lollies, chocolates or biscuits in your weekly buy-up.
Tips on how to help with your health conditions while you’re in prison
You might have long term medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease. Or maybe you’ve put on weight in prison. Here are some dietary tips for keeping you healthy:
If you eat more energy than your body is likely to use, you will probably put on weight. Eating too much, regardless of what foods you get energy from, will lead to weight gain. You don’t need to cut out rice, bread and cereals to lose weight – you just need to eat them in moderation. Whenever possible, ask for brown or multigrain bread instead of white bread. Cut down on foods that are high in sugar and/or fat like cakes, pastries, chocolate, soft drinks and chips. The key to losing weight is to keep up a healthy lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle includes eating healthy foods and taking part in regular exercise.
High blood pressure
Having high blood pressure increases your risk of developing heart disease. Reduce amount of salt you have – don’t add salt to your food, watch how much sodium (salt) is in the food you buy from your buy-up. Processed foods like canned soup, tinned fish in brine, chips, seasoning from instant noodles and luncheon meats are high in salt. Eat low-fat dairy products, fresh fruit and vegies. Remember to be physically active every day, stop smoking and maintain a healthy weight.
Good diabetes care can help reduce the risk of complications such as heart disease, blindness, amputations from foot problems and kidney disease. If you have diabetes, it is important that you include some foods containing carbohydrates such as wholegrain bread, rice, pasta, breakfast cereal, potatoes, fruit, legumes, milk or yoghurt with each meal. Limit your fat intake, especially saturated fat. Choose foods low in salt and eat only occasionally cakes and biscuits, in small serves. Avoid sweet drinks (soft drinks, cordial, juice) and lollies.
The major risk factors for heart disease include high blood cholesterol, being overweight, high blood pressure and smoking. We all know eating too much fatty food is bad for you, but not all fat is the same.
Saturated fats are bad, because they increase blood cholesterol. So cut down on full fat dairy products (butter, milk, cheese, yoghurt, mayonnaise), meat fat (trim the fat from meat, limit processed meats), pastry, cakes, crisps, biscuits, fried foods and hot chips.
Unsaturated fats like olive oil, canola oil, margarine, sardines, tuna, seeds and nuts are types of fat that lower your cholesterol levels, which in turn reduces the risk of heart disease.
To truly get the full benefit of eating well, it is important to be physically active every day.
Eating properly and getting regular exercise are two important ways to not only make it through your prison sentence but also to form a pattern of good habits that will carry over to your life after prison.
Here are a few recipes to help increase the range of foods you eat if you have cooking facilities where you can prepare food for yourself.
Chicken and Corn Noodle Soup (serves 4)
Extracted from Yhunger: A Cookbook for Younger People (Central Sydney Area Health Service)
130g can corn kernels
What you need:
What to do
Fasta Pasta (serves 4)
Extracted from Healthy Budget Bites (Coalfields Healthy Heartbeat, Hunter New England Health Service)
What you need:
What to do:
If you would like more information on this or other nutrition issues, please contact the Nutrition Development Division of the Albion Street Centre on 9332 9600.