Healthy eating has become far too complicated.
There is so much information out there, so many have-a-go gurus that it’s become impossible to figure out what we should be eating.
The information age is a curse and a boom, people!
One of the reasons I retrained as a Nutrition Coach was to get to the bottom of what healthy eating looks like for me and my family.
Fed up of feeling overwhelmed and guilty that I wasn’t eating “well”, I decided to educate myself and take control of my plate and wellbeing.
Here’s what I learnt:
There is no one-size-fits-all approach.
We are all individuals. The diet that works for me, won’t necessarily benefit you.
Each of us, at different stages of our life and health, will need different things.
For example, vegetarian women of child-bearing age, will need to be more mindful of their iron levels than those who eat meat because plant sources of iron are not absorbed by the body as well as iron from meat.
Though personalised nutrition works best, luckily for us, there some universal healthy eating guidelines that we could all do with embracing:
1. Eat more plants
If there is one thing most experts agree on it’s that we should eat more plants. Vegetables, fruit, herbs and spices all count!
Plants are full of fibre. They aid digestive transit and contribute to a diverse and thriving gut microbiome. What’s good for the gut is good for the rest of our bodies!
A rich source of micronutrients, plants are a great way to hit your RDA. 5 portions a day is great but more is definitely better.
Plants are also packed full of polyphenols, health promoting plant compounds that have been shown to reduce inflammation.
My tips for amping your plant intake:
Start the day with a green juice
Add berries to your porridge
Snack on vegetables and fruit
Pimp your plates with herbs and spices
2. Ditch ultra-processed foods (UPFs)
You know the so-called food and drink I mean. The stuff with an ingredient list as long as your arm.
UPFs undergo extensive processing that strips it of nutrients and fibre (the nourishing stuff) whilst adding sugar, salt, fat, artificial colours, preservatives and stabilisers (the not-good-for-you-in-large quantities stuff), so that by the time it reaches your plate its not really food at all.
Frozen meals, fizzy drinks, shop-bought cakes and biscuits, crisps, ice cream and so many other foods that have become a staple of the Western diet are UPFs and we wonder why lifestyle diseases are on the rise? Obesity, cardiovascular disease, metabolic disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes and many other illnesses are associated with UPFs. Here’s how to steer clear:
My tips for ditching UPFS:
Don’t buy them (as much). If they’re not in your fridge, freezer or kitchen cupboard, you won’t be tempted to eat them.
Make your own home made versions of the foods you crave using more nutritious ingredients. Think lemon and tahini salad dressing, almond meal cookies and chia jam i.e. nourishing versions of the less healthful foods you used to eat.
Keep you kitchen well stocked with fresh food and minimally processed foods like tinned beans that you’re able to turn into fuss-free meals quickly and easily
3. Balance blood sugars
Most of us eat too many carbs. Fact. I get it. Carbs are the culinary equivalent of a huge enveloping hug. But do we really need to eat as many carbs as we do? No.
Carbs are converted into glucose pretty sharpish in our bodies causing our blood sugar levels to rise.
The problem is, eating a diet high in carbs consistently means that the pancreas is having to work overtime to produce enough insulin to encourage cellular uptake of this excess glucose.
Our cells can only take up so much glucose. When cells reach saturation point, the pancreas panics and produces even more insulin to redress the balance. The cells, by this point, have had enough. They stop responding as well to insulin and it’s plea to take up more glucose. This is known as insulin resistant. A condition which leads to type 2 diabetes, a lifestyle disease that can be avoided if we prioritise our plate and wellbeing.
Let me show you how.
My tips for balancing blood sugar:
Build your meals around non-starchy vegetables, protein and fat. Protein and fat are digested slowly we don’t experience the blood sugar highs associated with carbs
When you do eat carbs, opt for wholegrain versions that are higher in fibre that help to slow down digestive transit which has the effect of drip feeding glucose into the bloodstream
Pairing carbs with protein and fat will have the same effect. Think porridge with nut butter, sourdough with avocado, oatcakes with hummus
So there you have it, 3 simple strategies for eating more healthfully.
To take things up a notch and explore how personalised nutrition can help you take charge of your plate and wellbeing, book your complimentary clarity call here.
Disclaimer: this article is for information purposes only. If you are experiencing any specific health issues, you should consult a medical professional and/or seek personalised nutritional guidance.