If you are anything like me you are sick to the gills of hearing segments on non dairy milk, skinny detox teas and eliminating food groups.
The volume of misinformation or misrepresented information in the media is mind boggling.
With that in mind, I want to share 3 things with you about achieving a balanced diet.
First, there is no such thing as foods that are good and foods that are bad, I don't believe demonizing food groups. Healthy eating can mean different things for different people. For example, I don’t tolerate dairy well and I’m allergic to eggs. So for me that is not going to be healthy.
But generally we consider a healthy to mean that 80% of the time, we eat good quality fruit and vegetables, protein and carbohydrates.
If we imagine the food we eat every day as being made up of a plate, then ½ of this plate is made up of vegetables and fruit, around 5 portions of vegetables and 2 portions of fruit. Download this free checklist to help you eat a rainbow.
Our protein be that eggs, meat, fish or a vegetable alternative should make up 20-25% of our plate and the remaining 25-30% is made up of carbohydrates. On the side we have our healthy fats - like olive oil and flaxseed for salads, coconut oil and avocado oil for cooking and our liquid - approximately 2 litres per day of water or herbal tea - barrys tea and coffee don’t count towards this.
We also want to aim for 2-3 portions of oily fish per week, these contain omega 3s which reduces inflammation and keep our cells supple. If you don't or can't eat oily fish, then an algae supplement containing EPA and DHA is advised.
When it comes to the food we buy, quality is important and I would urge clients to buy the best quality foods they can afford. The order goes a little like this:
- Organic & locally produced
- Non organic but locally produced
- Organic but not locally produced
- Non organic but not on the EWG dirty dozen list
If we eat like this 80% of the time, then the rest of the time we should have no qualms about the chocolate or the crisps or the pizza or the takeaway.
Which brings me to the second thing I want to share with you.
When it comes to 'treats', it is all about context, yes your fourth cup of coffee is not the best idea especially if it is full of preservatives and additives and you suffer from anxiety, palpitations or insomnia. However if you are the type of person who can fall asleep no problem after a freshly brewed americano or you are just about to hit the gym for an intensive workout, then a moderate amount of coffee maybe helpful.
The same goes for chocolate, if you have a good quality (not expensive) but 70% + piece of chocolate it can do wonders for your health - it can increase nitric oxide (NO), contains polyphenols and antioxidants that help your brain function, help your circulation and heart health and has anti-aging effects.
However - and here’s the rub - if it contains less than 70% cocoa is filled with vegetable oil, palm oil and sugar - then it’s not going to have those same benefits.
Yes some foods are more beneficial than others and no I cannot find a reason to recommend why you should meet a friend for chocolate cake and a coffee from a purely nutritional standpoint. But it can be very good for your mental health. And that is just as valid a reason as any other health benefit.
This is the third and final point. Something I want you to think about...are these ‘treats’ something you enjoy or something you feel guilty about. Do you punish yourself for indulging in them, do you obsess about your bikini body or do you eat it, enjoy it and move on?
As a wise person once said “dieting can be a form of self harm rooted in self hatred.”
If we truly see our body as something we love, we will want the best for it.
Eating the food that helps our bodies to function as best it can is like an act of rebellious self care.
Avoiding only what causes discomfort like foods we are allergic to or make us feel tired or unwell is like an act of love.
Listen to what your body needs, listen to its hunger and its fullness. And listen when l tell you that all bodies are worthy of love, care and a little rebellion.
If you are not sure how to start, I would be happy to help you!