In today’s frenetic world we are all busy multi-tasking and we have a huge responsibility to look after ourselves, our partners, our children, our parents and grandparents as well as juggling work, home, garden, pets etc etc. If we don’t take care of ourselves we risk running on empty and just as a car needs fuel we need to fuel our bodies with the right foods.
When it comes to healthy eating, switching to life in the slow lane can make a big impact. It’s often easier to make gradual, more permanent changes instead of short-term resolutions and promises which are difficult to keep. Slowing down in how and where we eat is also one of the most beneficial things we can do to support digestion. Take time to sit and chew food and get those juices flowing.
Health can mean different things to different people. Weight is one important aspect of being healthy and there are risks associated with being severely under or over weight. But weight alone is not a clear indicator as body composition is vitally important too. For example, fat mass versus muscle mass, and levels of visceral fat are clear indicators of health status and disease risk. There are many other aspects to being healthy which may be more relevant to us as individuals such as feeling full of energy, having healthy skin, strong bones, reducing illnesses though supporting our immune system, performance at work or performance in sport. How we eat affects all of these things, as what we put into our bodies reflects how efficient our body functions. If you put diesel into a petrol car it won’t work. In just the same way our body needs the right fuel to function efficiently at a metabolic level.
The British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) has published a series of well-being guidelines which are a great first step towards “eating healthily”. Most countries will have an official Nutrition or Dietetic association so it’s always worth looking online to see what they suggest.
They start by telling us that everyone is unique. What works for one person may not work for another. They also talk about the importance of sleep and exercise. Their guidelines refer to eating a wide selection of colourful fruits and vegetables and choosing good sources of protein, fats and carbohydrates, and over the coming weeks we will focus on each of these to understand what that really means.
- Everyone is unique but whatever your goal similar nutritional principles and health and wellbeing guidelines will apply.
- Eat a Rainbow: a varied diet of 7 differently coloured fruit and vegetables per day.
- Stay hydrated with water, herbal teas, green and black teas. Avoid excessive alcohol, sugary drinks and too much caffeine
- Ensure protein is lean: fish, poultry, eggs and vegetable sources. Limit red and processed meat.
- Include healthy fats: avocados, nuts, olive oil. Cook with healthy saturated fats: coconut oil and butter.
- Choose root vegetables and whole grains (Wholemeal bread, pasta and rice) instead of refined carbohydrates and grains (white bread, pasta and rice): Eat sparingly.
- For Weight Loss: include exercise, limit portion sizes, don’t eat between meals. Avoid: Sugar, artificial sweeteners, alcohol and refined carbohydrates.
- Sleep and Exercise are an important aspect in overall Health and Wellbeing and Weight Management.
Eating healthily really begins with understanding food and choosing foods which fuel our body and give us the energy we need. Our journey begins here.