Oh Occupational Health and Wellbeing

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Eat and drink well

Healthy eating

Diet can have a large impact on wellbeing, access to healthy food and drink choices is important for staff. Eating healthily and the right amount can help you feel your best, stop you gaining weight and lower your risks of getting some diseases.

When it comes to watching your weight, it’s not just food you need to watch out for as some drinks can also be high in calories.

CUH Dietician, Lisa Gaff, says: “A balanced diet is the cornerstone of any healthy lifestyle. A diet that focuses on regular meals, aiming to include at least five portions of fruit and vegetables is key. Today, we have such a huge selection of fruit and vegetables available all year round that there is no reason not to find something you like.”

Benefits of healthy eating may include improving energy levels, sleep and concentration. Healthy eating can also help to maintain a healthy weight and reduces your risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and many more conditions.

If you wish to not go it alone you can participate in a free weight management programme. Click here to see our section on Weight management support.

Here are a few tips:

  • Eat regular meals
  • Aim for at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables per day
  • Include wholegrain foods with each meal
  • Reduce saturated fat intake and replace with unsaturated fat
  • Reduce salt intake to less than 6g per day
  • Maintain a healthy weight or lose weight if overweight

Is your BMI healthy?

Use this BMI checker from NHS Choices (opens in a new tab) to see what your BMI is (please note BMI does not take into account muscle mass, bone density, body composition, and racial differences).  This may help you decide whether your current diet is helping you maintain a healthy weight.


Adults should eat no more than 6g of salt a day – that’s around one teaspoon.

Salt is also called sodium chloride. Sometimes, food labels only give the figure for sodium. But there is a simple way to work out how much salt you are eating from the sodium figure: Salt = sodium x 2.5. Adults should eat no more than 2.4g of sodium per day, as this is equal to 6g of salt.

High-salt foods

The following foods are almost always high in salt. To cut down on salt, eat them less often or have smaller amounts:

  • anchovies
  • bacon
  • cheese
  • gravy granules
  • ham
  • olives
  • pickles
  • prawns
  • salami
  • salted and dry-roasted nuts
  • salt fish
  • smoked meat and fish
  • soy sauce
  • stock cubes
  • yeast extract

Foods that can be high in salt

In the following foods, the salt content can vary widely between different brands or varieties. That means you can cut down on salt by comparing brands and choosing the one that is lower in salt. Nutrition labels can help you do this.

These foods include:

  • bread products such as crumpets, bagels and ciabatta
  • pasta sauces
  • crisps
  • pizza
  • ready meals
  • soup
  • sandwiches
  • sausages
  • tomato ketchup, mayonnaise and other sauces
  • breakfast cereals

Information obtained from NHS Choices (opens in a new tab).

Click here for an interesting graphic on Salt, produced by NHS Choices (opens in a new tab).


The government recommends sugars shouldn’t make up more than 5% of the energy (calories) you get from food and drink each day. That’s a maximum of 30g of added sugar a day for adults, which is roughly seven sugar cubes.

Added sugars are found in foods such as sweets, cakes, biscuits, chocolate, and some fizzy drinks and juice drinks – these are the sugary foods we should cut down on. For example, a can of cola can have as much as 9 cubes of added sugar.

Click here for more facts on sugar from NHS Choices (opens in a new tab).

Hidden sugars can easily catch us out. Here are some tips to lower your sugar consumption.


Breakfast can result in consuming high amounts of sugar, with most cereals containing very large amounts of sugar. Low sugar options that will still be full of energy and could cut out 70g of sugar (22 cubes!) a week include:

  • plain porridge
  • plain wholewheat cereal biscuits
  • plain shredded wholegrain pillows

Savoury foods

Main meals can also have hidden sugars, such as pasta sauce, an average jar can contain more than 13g of sugar. To not get caught out on these hidden sugars in savory foods watch out when eating out and having takeaways. Foods such as sweet and sour dishes, sweet chilli dishes and some curry sauces, as well as salads with dressings like salad cream have lots of sugar. Even condiments and sauces such as ketchup can have as much as 23g of sugar in 100g.


We all know the large amounts of sugar in cakes, chocolate and other snacks. Here are some lower-calorie/sugar substitutes:

  • cereal bars – despite their healthy image, many cereal bars can be high in sugar and fat. Look out for bars that are lower in sugar, fat and salt. Or try this fruity granola bar recipe to make your own.
  • chocolate – swap for a lower-calorie hot instant chocolate drink. You can also get chocolate with coffee and chocolate with malt varieties.
  • biscuits – swap for oatcakes, oat biscuits, or unsalted rice cakes, which also provide fibre.
  • cakes – swap for a plain currant bun, fruit scone, or malt loaf. If you add toppings or spreads, use them sparingly or choose lower-fat and lower-sugar varieties.


Nearly a quarter of the added sugar in our diets comes from sugary drinks, such as fizzy drinks, sweetened juices, squashes, and cordials.

A 500ml bottle of cola contains the equivalent of 17 cubes of sugar.

To lower intake try sugar-free varieties, or – better yet – water, lower-fat milk, or soda water with a splash of fruit juice.

  • If you take sugar in tea or coffee, gradually reduce the amount until you can cut it out altogether, or try swapping to sweeteners instead.
  • Try some new flavours with herbal teas, or make your own with hot water and a slice of lemon or ginger.
  • Fruit juice can be high in sugar. Your combined total of drinks from fruit juice, vegetable juice and smoothies should not be more than 150ml a day.
  • You could try flavouring water with a slice of lemon, lime, or a splash of fruit juice.

For more information on cutting down sugar, see NHS Choices (opens in a new tab).

Resources that can help ensure a balanced diet

Change 4 Life has healthy recipes to help guide you to a balanced diet.

NHS choices has a useful calorie checker if you want to see if you are eating too little or too much.

HealthyYou has a free recipe guide app called “easy meal” and is available on both android and iPhone.

Stay hydrated

Drinking water is essential to maintain our bodies basic functioning. Lack of water can result in dehydration which involves a range of symptoms such as:

Not sure how much you should drink a day?

The Natural Hydration council (opens in a new tab) states that: The European Food Safety Authority (opens in a new tab) (EFSA) recommends an intake of 2.5 litres of water for men and 2.0 litres of water for women per day, via food and drink consumption with 70-80% of water from drinks, and 20-30% should from food. If you are not keen on water why not try adding lemon and lime to sparking water, low fat milk, green tea or low sugar squash? High water content foods such as melon, cucumber and soup are healthy and will contribute to your intake, just watch out for high salt and sugar content in soups.

If you are dehydrated:

Drink plenty of fluids such as water, diluted squash or fruit juice. These are much more effective than large amounts of tea or coffee. Fizzy drinks may contain more sugar than you need and may be harder to take in large amounts.

If you’re finding it difficult to keep water down because you’re vomiting, try drinking small amounts more frequently.

Infants and small children who are dehydrated shouldn’t be given large amounts of water alone as the main replacement fluid. This is because it can dilute the already low level of minerals in their body too much and lead to other problems.

Instead, they should be given diluted squash or a re-hydration solution (available from pharmacies). You might find a teaspoon or syringe can be helpful for getting fluid into a young child.

If left untreated, severe dehydration can be serious and cause fits (seizures) (opens in a new tab), brain damage and death.

Information obtained from NHS Choices (opens in a new tab).


Smoking is detrimental to your health, but it can be difficult to stop. Support is available for those that smoke with the Stop Smoking Clinic (CAMQUIT) (opens in a new tab) service, suitable for staff, the public and patient referrals.

Cambridgeshire’s dedicated smoking cessation services are there to help individuals quit smoking for good, and provide support during the process. Their self-referral form makes it simple to get help.

There is also a smoking cessations stall in the concourse at Addenbrooke’s once a month giving advice, support and help with referrals for both staff,  patients and visitors.

HealthyYou give great advice on quitting smoking and the benefits such as how your breathing and general fitness will improve, your skin will look better and your sense of taste will return. Quitting smoking is not only good for your health; it’s really good for your wallet. Smoking is expensive and it all adds up. On average, most people who quit save around £250 each month.

Smokefree also explain the many benefits of stopping smoking including an video on one man’s success story of quitting after smoking for 30 years, watch it below:

Smoke free offer guidance packs that you can sign up to online. There is also a large range of videos showing the support available and other success stories.

You can also go to your GP if you wish to quit, they will support you in your decision and help you obtain the relevant information and tools to stop smoking.

If you fear you are about to relapse after quitting you can call the free NHS Smokefree helpline on 0300 123 1044 to get support from a trained adviser. For further support on how to recover from a relapse see the NHS Choices guidance (opens in a new tab).


Most enjoy a glass of wine to unwind in the evening but this occasional glass can unconsciously become 2-3 glasses a night. HealthyYou (opens in a new tab) advises not to drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week. 14 units is equivalent to 6 pints of average strength beer. Taking note and monitoring your alcohol consumption can improve your health. Drinking more alcohol than recommended can have side-effects such as high blood pressure, liver pressure, heart attack, gaining weight and an increased risk of cancer.

Why cut down

There are many benefits to cutting down your intake, including a reduced risk to your health. Drinking less will also be beneficial to your finances with the cost of alcohol being high. You can make large savings by making small changes by cutting down alcohol consumption. You may also feel less tired due to alcohol stopping deep sleep, cutting down may result in more energy to do enjoyable activities.

Tips to cutting down

You can cut down without stopping altogether. If you drink every day, try having at least a couple of booze-free nights each week. Try swapping strong beers or wine for lower strength ones; have a smaller glass or alternatively have half as much by adding tonic water or lemonade to your drink.

Help cutting down

HealthyYou (opens in a new tab) have a free alcohol checker for a 7 day snap shot; how much you drink, how many calories it adds up to and how much it costs. To give the alcohol checker ago click here (opens in a new tab). 

HealthyYou also suggests that if you are struggling to cut down or think you might have a problem with drinking, realizing you have a problem is the first step to making a change.

There is lots of help out there and a good place to start is with a visit to your GP, find your local alcohol support service or call Drinkline free on 0300 123 1110 for help and support.

Substance abuse and alcoholism

If you are suffering with alcoholism or substance abuse. You can gain help and support from NHS Inclusion (opens in a new tab).

Alcoholics anonymous also offers AA meetings and other forms of support to help you. Please see the AA website for more information (opens in a new tab).