We all get super duper confused around what actually constitutes a healthy diet. It seems that its an arbitrary thing that somebody decides is the “right” food to eat for health, or is decided by the most famous “nutrition celebrity”. Wrong. Its actually been VERY well researched, and perfectly outlined by the Department of Health (they used 55,000 research articles to get to the guidelines we have today). The problem is, we just don’t listen. If we all were eating what the guidelines tell us too, we would all be pretty darn healthy. Sadly, we snack on junk, eat far too much sugar, fat and processed foods, and its causing a whole load of disease that isn’t necessary.
So recently I have challenged myself to make sure I am eating what the guidelines say, because most of us don’t even get to this point. We are too busy focusing on the latest fad diet, superfood or crazy new supermarket product to actually focus on getting our baselines right. Its been a very interesting few weeks, and I must say I wasn’t eating exactly what I should be eating (a sad point to make for a nutritionist). I was eating far too many serves, and far too much of the discretionary items. Most of what I was eating was very nutrient dense, but I stopped listening to my body’s hunger cues, and started mindlessly eating food in front of the tv. Cue-being my heaviest weight ever.
So here are my basic guidelines for what you should eat. It’s not hard, its not any crazy new idea, its just the same old message. Also, I like lists and bullet points – so this makes my brain happy.
- Bring your diet back to its basic form: Fruit, Veggies, Meat, Wholegrain’s, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds, Dairy products and a little healthy fats.
- Eat 2 serves of fruit minimum: eat one for a snack, then have one after dinner with some yoghurt.
- Eat 5 serves of veggies minimum: make sure one of your snacks includes veggies, as well as at least one serve at every meal. I like to try half fill my plate with veggies before adding anything else.
- Eat 6 serves of mostly wholegrains: this means the grain hasn’t been stripped of all its important nutrients in the outer layers; Brown rice, wholegrain bread, wholegrain pasta and noodles. If it has a wholegrain option; choose that one.
- Eat 2-3 serves of dairy everyday: Don’t be afraid of dairy products, most of us have developed the ability to process lactose in dairy products, so just get over yourself. Go for milk (Whole, skim-whatever really), natural and greek yoghurt, and small amounts of cheese (by small amount I mean the size of a matchbox or 20-30g).
- Eat 2-3 serves of lean protein: and variety is good here, try chicken, salmon, tuna, beef, eggs, tofu, legumes. Its all good! Legumes are both a protein AND a vegetable, plus they have plenty of fibre, phytonutrients and minerals.
- Everything else is discretionary, although I will say that fats are vital to healthy cell development and neurons, so we do need to make sure we are getting some healthy fats everyday (Contrary to the old ways of fat-free everything). Try olive oil, avocado, nut butters, seeds, plant oils, oily fish and nuts.
- There is no need to cut out everything, its just about what you eat MOST of the time, so simply eat the treats less often. For example, eat a varied, nutrient dense and healthy diet for most of the week, and allow yourself a couple of treats throughout the week.
Eating for health isn’t rocket science, its just simply putting some guidelines in place to make sure you are doing what’s best for your body. There is no way your body can be at its best if you are giving it the wrong fuel.
Keep your eyes peeled-ill be posting a 7 day outline of what iv’e been eating too, so you can see all of this in practice.