Irish men are getting bigger – expanding outwards rather than upwards – and farmers are no different but healthy eating is key to maintaining a healthy weight.

Becoming overweight or obese significantly increases your risk of developing a number of very serious health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, stroke and some cancers, according to ‘Staying Fit for Farming’.

Eating too much of the wrong types of food can also be bad for your health, it says, and a lot of farmers are not aware of the links between the food that they eat and their health.

“The very notion of ‘healthy eating’ can be seen as a woman’s thing and therefore ‘unmanly’ so many men tend to eat too much meat, processed foods, fried foods and snacks that are high in fat, sugar, salt, and calories.”

Why eat healthily?

Eating a well-balanced diet can seriously improve your health by:

  • Providing you with the right fuel to work effectively.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Lowering your blood cholesterol.
  • Preventing high blood pressure.
  • Improving your energy levels.
  • Providing you with the right fuel to work effectively.

Good gut size

Men with a waist size of more than 94 centimeters (37 inches), or women with a waist bigger than 80 centimeters (32 inches), have increased health risks. A waist measurement of over 102 centimeters (40 inches) for men, or 88 centimeters (35 inches) for women, can lead to serious health risks.

How to measure your waist

  • Find the top of your hip bone and the bottom of your ribs.
  • Breathe out naturally.
  • Place the tape measure between these points and wrap it around your waist.
  • Make a note of the measurement.

Body mass index (BMI): Normal BMI for an adult is 18.5 to 24.9. If your BMI is over 25 you are considered overweight; a BMI of 30 or over is considered obese.

How to measure your BMI

Measure your height in meters and your weight in kilograms. Divide your weight by your height squared = weight (kg) / height (m) x height (m). Make a note of the result.

If your waist measurement or BMI is over the recommended guidelines in the Staying Fit for Faming booklet, which also advises that you should visit your GP.

What is healthy eating?

Eating healthily doesn’t need to be boring and it is not about depriving yourself of the foods you love. A healthy diet should have all the essential things your body needs and should have the right balance of foods from the food pyramid.

healthy eating

The food pyramid. Pic:

Just a few small changes to what you eat can make all the difference to your health. Knowing what foods to eat as well as which foods to limit is the key to healthy eating.

Top Tips to a healthy weight

  1. Follow the food pyramid guidelines – limit your food choices from the top shelf.
  2. Reduce the size of your food portions.
  3. Don’t skip breakfast – a good bowl of porridge will keep you going for the day!
  4. Choose healthy, low-fat ways of cooking – avoid frying and rich sauces. Eat fruit and other healthy snacks between meals if you are hungry.
  5. Plan your food shopping in advance – decide for yourself on your healthy food choices and don’t shop when you are hungry.
  6. Remove the salt from the table – leave the salt in the sea where it belongs!
    Reduce alcohol or cut it out altogether if you are trying to lose weight – it is full of empty calories.
  7. Get active – remember, its not just about how much or what you eat; how much fuel you burn off is equally important.
  8. Don’t go it alone – get support from family or friends or from a health professional.

Ten commandments for health

  1. Prioritise, plan and pace yourself
  2. Take control of stress – don’t let stress take control of you.
  3. Eat wisely and drink water plentifully.
  4. Do your best to find time for physical activity daily, build it into your day.
  5. If you smoke, quit and if you drink, try to cut down.
  6. Take good care of your back when lifting things, one bad lift can cause a lifetime of misery.
  7. Keep close tabs on your blood pressure and cholesterol level.
  8. Reduce your cancer risk by eating healthily, being physically active and maintaining a healthy weight.
  9. Beat isolation by joining a group or talking things through with, your partner, a friend or neighbour.
  10. Visit your doctor regularly and never delay getting help if you are concerned about any change to your health.

The publication is sponsored by the HSA, Teagasc, FBD Trust and the HSE.