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We all have a responsibility to look after our own health and wellbeing and to use NHS services wisely. Here are some tips and tools to help you make the best choices and keep you and your friends and family safe and well.

Eatwell guide

Eating a healthy, balanced diet is an important part of maintaining good health, and can help you feel your best.

This means eating a wide variety of foods in the right proportions, and consuming the right amount of food and drink to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.

The Eatwell Guide (pictured right - click to download) shows that to have a healthy, balanced diet, people should try to:

  • Eat 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day

  • Base meals on starchy foods like potatoes, bread, rice or pasta

  • Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks)

  • Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other protein

  • Choose unsaturated oils and spreads, eaten in small amounts

  • Drink plenty of fluids








If you're having foods and drinks that are high in fat, salt and sugar, have these less often and in small amounts.

Try to choose a variety of different foods from the 5 main food groups.

Most people in the UK eat and drink too many calories. Click here for a guide to understanding calories.

Visit the NHS website for more information on eating well.

Healthy weight

Being overweight can increase our risk of serious health problems like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and certain cancers. Being underweight isn't good for our health either and can contribute to a weakened immune system, fragile bones and feeling tired.

A combination of eating well and being active can help us maintain a healthy weight.

You can calculate your body mass index (BMI) to find out if you are in the healthy weight range. Visit the NHS website to find out more about BMI and why it matters.

Running

To stay healthy, or improve health, adults need to do 2 types of physical activity each week: aerobic and strength exercises. How much physical activity you need to do each week depends on your age.

Adults aged 19 to 64 should try to be active daily and should do at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as cycling or brisk walking every week and strength exercises on 2 or more days a week that work all the major muscles.

All adults should also break up long periods of sitting with light activity.

For more information about what activities count towards your 150 minutes and how much exercise children and older adults should be doing, visit the NHS website.

Sleep

Most of us need around eight hours of good-quality sleep a night to function properly - but some need more and some less. Good-quality sleep is more important than the amount of sleep that you get and it helps to keep you feeling healthy.

The odd bad night's sleep can make you feel tired and irritable the next day, but it won't harm your health. However, regular poor-quality sleep can have a huge effect on your health, putting you at risk of developing serious medical conditions and can affect your body, thoughts, emotions and behaviour.

For more information on why sleep is important and how to improve yours, click here to visit One You.

Sexual health

A sexually transmitted infection (STI) can be passed from one person to another through sexual contact, including vaginal, anal and oral sex. You can get or pass on an STI whoever you're having sex with.

Many people with STIs do not get any symptoms, so it's worth getting tested regularly even if you feel fine. If you think you have an STI, the earlier you're tested, the sooner treatment can be given if it's needed.

Visit the NHS website to find out more about sexual health and where to get tests and treatment.

Alcohol

Drinking too much alcohol can be dangerous for our health and wellbeing.

In the short-term, risks include accidents and injuries requiring hospital treatment, violent behaviour, unprotected sex, loss of personal possessions and alcohol poisoning.

Longer term, persistent alcohol misuse increases the risk of serious health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, liver disease, liver cancer, bowel cancer, mouth cancer and pancreatitis.

As well as health problems, drinking too much alcohol for long periods of time can lead to social problems, such as unemployment, divorce, domestic abuse and homelessness.

To keep your risk of alcohol-related harm low, the NHS recommends not drinking more than 14 units of alcohol a week, and spreading this out over three or more days if you do drink this amount.

Visit the NHS website for alcohol support and advice on staying healthy and in control.

Quit smoking

Smoking is bad for your health in many ways. If you do smoke, quitting will bring a wealth of benefits including better breathing, more energy, lower stress levels, better sex, improved fertility, recovered sense of smell and taste, younger-looking skin, whiter teeth and sweeter breath and a longer life. By quitting smoking, you are also protecting the health of your loved ones.

Visit the NHS website to read more about the 10 reasons to quit smoking.

One You East Sussex can help you quit smoking with support from stop smoking advisors and Nicotine Replacement Therapy, such as patches and gum, available on prescription.

Mental health

Approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. In England, 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (such as anxiety and depression) in any given week.

Talking to a doctor about your own mental health can be difficult, so the Mental Health Foundation has produced a practical guide with details on what to expect from your appointment and what your GP can do for you. By using the tips and advice in the booklet, you'll be able to speak to your GP about your mental health with greater confidence. Click here to download it.

We all know what it's like to feel stressed - it's become part of normal life - but if you often become overwhelmed by stress, these feelings could start to be a problem for you. You might find that stress shows itself physically, such as tiredness, headaches or an upset stomach and you may be more emotional than usual. If you're often stressed, then you're probably producing high levels of cortisol and adrenaline, which can make you very unwell and could affect your long-term health.

Click here for 10 ways to combat stress.

When we feel unwell, we often book an appointment to see our GP as a first port of call. A visit to the GP is sometimes unavoidable...but do you really need to see them?

Some people visit their GP when they could have cared for themselves at home or received care elsewhere. This makes GP surgeries very busy and means you and other people may have to wait longer when you do need to see a GP. You can help your GP by:

 





If you do need to book an appointment, there may be another healthcare professional or service that might be able to help you better, and quicker. Click here to read more about seeing the right person first.

You should go to A&E if you need immediate, emergency care and have symptoms of serious illness or injuries that could be life-threatening.

If you need urgent care that is not an emergency, you can get quicker treatment closer to home. Visit www.sussexhelpmy.nhs.uk for advice on where to go if you need care urgently.

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