WHAT IS A HEALTHY DIET?
Healthy eating, is a subject that is talked about and lots of people associate healthy eating in different ways, but what does it mean?
The NHS UK website indicates that
Healthy eating 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.
This message is a good one. I do think though that you should eat more than 5 pieces of fruits and vegetables per day and to cut out consuming lots of dairy products and wheat/gluten from your diet.
The Nutrition.org website indicates that
A healthy diet should provide us with the right amount of energy (calories or kilojoules), from foods and drinks to maintain energy balance. Energy balance is where the calories taken in from the diet are equal to the calories used by the body. We need these calories to carry out everyday tasks such as walking and moving about, but also for all the functions of the body we may not even think about. Processes like breathing, pumping blood around the body and thinking also require calories.
It is true that calories in your diet play a role in giving you the energy you need throughout the day but not all calories are the same and it is important to pay attention to which foods you are eating to get those calories.
There can be conflicting advice, lots of diet crazes around or nutritional studies carried out.
Too much information can be misleading and confusing with information overload.
So here are some simple facts you can follow to avoid a lot of confusion. These can help to make a difference to your health and wellbeing and how you look and feel inside and out.
KEEP IT SIMPLE AND CHOOSE FRESH
keep it simple and eat mainly fresh food. This means food that will go off within a few days or so, either in the fridge or stored elsewhere. Eat only unprocessed foods, cook your food in a way that will preserve as many nutrients as possible. Eat foods that are in season. This way, they will taste better and will be cheaper. This will give you a variety of foods to choose from and this is how it should be to always eat foods in season.
You can find a download of a list of foods in each season here – http://www.greenerscotland.org/eating-greener/in-season-food-calendar
HEALTH FOODS ARE NOT ALWAYS HEALTHY
The food industry thrives on fads and food trends, and it often sells food products using very clever marketing. There are various rules and regulations in place to try to limit what can be written on food packaging. Many foods are sold with packaging to attract your attention, they could contain many health claims and presented in very attractive ways. Though inside, what you find is a product that is not at all a healthy food.
Be more aware of packaged foods. If you can be wary of a packaged food and one to pay lots of attention to before you buy it, then this is a great start. Whether or not the packaging claims that it is healthy or natural or good for you, has added vitamins or other nutritional benefits or that it is low in calories. These claims do not actually make it a healthy food to eat.
Healthy food is fresh and alive and anything in a package tends to have a very long shelf life. The logistics of dealing with products that have a long shelf life is easier and more practical for big shops like supermarkets – but it does often mean that the products are full of preservatives and may contain many other artificial ingredients too. So, please read the label and understand what is actually in the product. If it needs to have a label, it is often a sign that it is no longer very natural.
BE WARY OF SUBSTITUTES
A vegetarian diet can be very healthy and good for you and suits some people really well. But by replacing farmed, organic and good quality meat or chicken for packaged vegetable burgers or processed vegetarian sausages is not always a good solution. By replacing meat with a vegetable alternative, you would need to take a look at what is available and what it contains for it to be a good option.
Some meat substitute products can be heavily processed and rarely contain any good ingredients at all. They might also contain soy products which are not very good for your health and can have a big impact on your health and weight.
If you want to eat a diet lower in animal protein or without any animal protein, eat only really high quality animal protein and replace any animal protein with organic vegetables, healthy and unprocessed vegetarian sources of protein and lots of healthy fats from ingredients such as avocado, nuts and seeds, olive oil etc. Do make sure to get enough vegetarian proteins with minimal processed alternatives. Try to add in more natural and fresh ingredients and make your own burgers to taste delicious.
Ok so let’s sum up what healthy eating looks like.
- Healthy eating is eating a wide variety of foods to provide you with enough energy throughout the day.
- Keep it simple and fresh
- Health Foods are not always healthy
- Be aware of food substitutes
Ideally, we should eat more like our grandparents used to eat – no fad diets, just real food, eaten seasonally from a sustainable source, in the right quantities.
A better way is a natural and balanced diet. Focus on filling your fridge with natural and fresh food and eat three balanced meals every day – a bit of protein, some healthy fat and some fresh carbohydrate ideally in the shape of vegetables and fruit and you can be quite sure to fill your body with what it needs.
Always focus on quality over quantity as the quality of your ingredients can make a big difference, rather than adding exotic ingredients or expensive supplements. Unless these are recommended from a specialist you trust. Supplements do have their place, just not any supplement and at any cost.
We can often make things more complicated for ourselves (I know that I did) but really, when it comes to eating a healthy diet, by keeping it simple is usually better.