Healthy Eating 101: Your Back to Basics Guide
There’s a lot of truth in that old adage “you get out what you put in” – especially when it comes to our diet. The more we consume food that is nutritious and wholesome, the better we can expect our body to look, feel and perform. Similarly, the opposite is also true: fuel your body with sugary, fatty foods with low nutritional content and you’ll inevitably feel sluggish and lacklustre.
Why you should ditch the Western diet
The traditional Western diet is characterised by being high in unhealthy fats, with a disproportionate intake of sugary, processed foods, red meats and refined grains – all food which should only be consumed in small amounts, or not at all.
As a society we’ve become incredibly accustomed to eating unhealthy food: it’s become so convenient that we often don’t bother to read the label or really question what we’re putting into our bodies. Unfortunately, however, much of the Western diet has very little nutritional value. Even worse, we overeat too – all of which is doing us more harm than good.
Which cultures have the healthiest diets?
If we examine other cultures’ eating habits, such as the traditional Mediterranean or the traditional Asian diets, it’s apparent that diets which are high in fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, nuts, seeds, fresh fish and good fats like olive oils are on the whole much better for us.
By contrast, in Australia two in three adults and one in four children are overweight – and the figure is rising1. This is largely down to two factors: poor diet and not enough exercise.
If you’re concerned about your weight, the first thing you need to do is change the way you think about food. The food you eat is your body’s fuel: it’s what makes it function properly. Feed your car the wrong fuel and it will sputter and break down. The same principle applies to your body.
The secret life of plants
Consuming a wide variety of plant-based foods is the cornerstone of a healthy diet. Why? The vast majority of the nutrients our bodies require to survive can be found in plant-based foods: fruit, vegetables, grains, nuts, beans and legumes. It’s where almost all of the vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, dietary fibre and antioxidants we need to survive come from.
The sheer range and volume of health benefits we receive from consuming a plant-based diet is incredible: they help with everything from protecting us against disease to helping produce energy, regulating cell growth to promoting healing – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. If you’re concerned about your health, one of the easiest ways to start being kinder to your body is to introduce more powerhouse plant-based foods to your diet.
Healthy Eating Basics
Need some help whipping yourself into shape? Here are four simple rules of thumb to follow:
Pack in plenty of fruit and veggies.
Dietary guidelines recommend five serves of veg and two serves of fruit per day (as a minimum). This sounds like a lot but it’s actually not as difficult as you might think:
One serve is equal to:
- One medium-sized piece of fruit
- Half a cup of cooked veg, beans or sweetcorn
- Half a medium potato or sweet potato
- One cup of raw veg or leafy salad2
Have an egg with a grilled tomato or mushrooms on wholegrain toast for breaky, pack an orange and an apple for your morning and afternoon tea, fill half your plate at lunchtime with a colourful salad and finish off with an evening meal that contains a baked sweet potato and a cup of your favourite veg.
Limit your treat foods.
Cutting out treats completely is unrealistic for most people – and let’s be honest, denying yourself something only makes you want it more! But it’s important to limit consumption of naughty foods to just occasional treats.
This is particularly important as we age, because our muscle mass and metabolic rate declines and our activity levels become lower – all of which makes it harder to burn off those excess calories. Rather than becoming more relaxed about what we eat as we get older, we should in fact be paying much closer attention to what we’re putting into your body and cutting back on treats. What’s more, because our appetites reduce as we age, we’re more likely to skip nutrient-rich foods in favour of treats, which means we’re not getting enough of those all important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Strike the right balance.
As per the Australian Dietary Guidelines3, make sure your daily diet includes a mix of the following food groups:
- Fruit and veggies
- Good Wholegrain cereals, pasta and rice
- Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, and legumes/beans
- Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or their alternatives (be sure to choose reduced fat)
Remember, a ratio of 1:1 of protein to carbs is a great rule of thumb if you want to lose weight. Just be sure to choose lean proteins like those described above, and complex carbohydrates, ie. vegetables and wholegrains.
Supplement your diet (if you need to).
For those days when healthy eating doesn’t quite go to plan, have a back up. While it shouldn’t be used in place of eating fresh fruit and veggies, it’s ok to boost your nutrition levels with a multivitamin supplement.
Bio-Organics Glycemix Metabolic Multi contains antioxidants to help protect against free radical damage and also helps to support a healthy nervous system with vitamins B1, B6, B12, magnesium and copper.