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Lifestyle Advice

A healthy, enjoyable diet can reduce some of the causes of stroke and help you to recover. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables (aim for 5 portions per day) and try to include oily fish, such as trout, salmon, sardines and mackerel in meals 3 times a week.
Did you know?

Immediate stroke treatment could save someone's life and gives them a greater chance of successful rehabilitation and recovery.


Replace fatty foods with low fat alternatives. This will help to stop your arteries narrowing, lower cholesterol and also keep your weight at a healthy level. Try to keep your weight in the middle range – neither too high nor too low.


Keep your alcohol intake within the recommended weekly limits (or as advised by your doctor).

Eating less salt and salty foods will help you to control your blood pressure. Watch out for hidden salt in processed food, even in bread and biscuits.

The eatwell plate illustrates how you get the balanced diet right. Click for full size pdf

For further details on Eat well, be well – visit


  • Foods flavoured with herbs, spices & lemons.
  • Fresh fish, and fish tinned in water.
  • Eggs (3–4 a week). Lean meat (chicken, turkey).
  • Small amounts of monounsaturated oils and spreads such as olive oil and rapeseed oil.
  • Cottage cheese.
  • Unsalted crackers & nuts, fresh & dried fruit.
  • Home-made soups and stocks.
  • Potatoes, pasta & rice(try brown), high fibre bread(try low salt bread).
  • Whole-grain breakfast cereals, such as porridge and unsweetened muesli.
  • Fresh/frozen vegetables, beans & lentils.


  • Salt – just use a little in cooking but not at table.
  • Fish tinned in brine and smoked fish.
  • Canned & salted meat, bacon, sausages.
  • Butter, oils, full fat spreads, cream.
  • Hard cheese (maximum of 4 oz/100g per week).
  • Crisps & dips, salted nuts, sweet biscuits.
  • Packet soups, stock cubes & sauces.
  • Chips, Pastries and cakes.
  • Sweetened or high salt cereals such as cornflakes etc.
  • Ready meals – try making meals to freeze instead

Helpful Information

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Active Living Stroke Rehabilitation Programme

The Active Living Stroke Rehabilitation Programme is physical activity session designed to improve the health and quality of life of stroke and TIA survivors. Click here to find out more…



Regular exercise can halve your risk of having a stroke. The benefits of exercise are:

  • It lowers blood pressure
  • It helps you to control your weight
  • It will help to keep your system balanced (especially blood cholesterol and insulin)

However, take things gently and carefully. If you are seeing a physiotherapist or have seen one then follow their advice. Try to do about 20 minutes of moderate exercise every day splitting this up into shorter bouts if you prefer. Normally, this should be about the same level of effort as going for a brisk walk – not too gentle but certainly not hard work either.

Try to build “exercise-activities” into your everyday routine. Whether you are able to move easily, with difficulty or even if you are in a wheelchair most of the time there is exercise you can do that will be beneficial. If you have not done formal exercise for a while, check with your doctor. (fitness self assessment img)


There are three good reasons for giving up or cutting down. 1. Health – Alcohol is high in calories and can lead to obesity and high blood pressure – common causes of stroke. 2. Daily living – Stroke can cause depression, forgetfulness, shakiness and confusion. Alcohol can make these worse. 3. Medication – Alcohol can be dangerous when you are taking medicine. Check with your doctor. And the good news – a small amount may be good for you, but ask your doctor’s advice and remember: Drink slowly Don’t drink to wind down or deal with problems Drink with food, not on an empty stomach Have alcohol free days – at least two a week. Keep within sensible drinking limits: Women – not more than 2 – 3 units a day Men – not more than 3 – 4 units a day Lower for older people and some medical conditions. 1 unit of alcohol = Half pint of lager, cider or beer or 1 single of spirits or 1 glass of wine.


Smokers are twice as likely to have a stroke as non-smokers. Stopping, or cutting down, will reduce risk. Here are a few tips: Ask family and friends to support you Stay away from places where you will be offered cigarettes Remember the benefits to you and your family (health, money, and no brown ceilings to paint!) Join a stop smoking group Use self-help books – they can help you plan and keep you motivated Ask your doctor about nicotine replacement on prescription, such as chewing gums, sprays and patches All GPs have a specialist nurse who will provide support and treatment as part of a “Help 2 Quit” programme.

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