Crazy diets – we’ve all been there. The lure of a quick fix, the sweet promise of the perfect weight loss formula, or the miracle cure of everything under the sun from the one ingredient previously gathering dust in the furthest recess of your kitchen cupboard. I don’t know about you, but I’m so over it all! The constant bombardment of nutrition BS dressed up as information is exhausting and confusing, and if that’s the way I feel when I’m passionate about food and nutrition, then holy cr*p I can only imagine how it makes you feel.
Dieting – isn’t it a horrible word? So I thought let’s throw those quick fix books, diet pills and negative emotions out the window and start again.
I think you’re beautiful by the way.
So what is YOUR healthy body?
I don’t mean Rebel Wilson, or Kate Moss, I mean YOU. How do you get to feeling bursting with energy and sunshine, feeling strong, fit and busting any seasonal lurgies with your boosted immune system fighting capacity?
Here are Nutrition Larder’s five ways to feeling badass:
Some rainbow lovin’
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase ‘eat the rainbow’ before. I know it’s a bit worn out and well used but I do love it for the mental imagery of all the beautiful different colored fruits and vegetables we are so lucky to have available. Fruit and veg are perfect examples of nutrient dense foods, they are bursting with beneficial phytochemicals that can act as powerful anti-oxidants and an intricate variety of vitamins, minerals and fibre all working together to make your body a happy place. Each colour of peachy pink, luminous yellow, blackberry purple and grassy green has its own niche of micronutrients, and having some of each covers all bases – nature’s own multivitamin.
Choose fats sensibly
If it’s what you’re looking for, decreasing the amount of fat can help lower the day’s calorie count as it’s a more concentrated energy source than protein or carbohydrate. However, we still need good fats for optimum health, such as those found in avocados, nuts, seeds and oily fish. Fat acts as a transport vehicle for fat-soluble vitamins – like A,D,E and K, into the body, along with many of the flavor compounds that makes food taste so damn great.
Too much fat, especially saturated fat mainly found in fatty cuts of meat, coconuts (sorry!), cheese and butter has been linked to an increased risk of chronic diseases. Making lean choices or selecting grass-fed meat instead of grain-fed can be a better choice as they’re lower in fat, and tend to have more beneficial polyunsaturated fatty acids. Plant proteins such as tofu and legumes can make better low-fat meat-swaps that can help lower your blood cholesterol, and they’re often pretty light on the old wallet, never a bad thing!
Wholegrain carbohydrates are mostly grains that are as close to their original wholefood state such as wild rice, barley, steel cut oats, quinoa, millet, wheat berries and bulgur wheat. They are complex carbohydrates that are high in dietary fibre, keeping our GI tract healthy, slowing digestion and so helping to maintain steady blood sugar levels, and loaded with nutrients. Carbohydrates are our body’s main source of fuel, and especially important for the brain, which can’t easily use fat or protein as a fuel source. If you are buying products that are advertising themselves as wholegrains but you’re pretty sure they’re not in their original wholefood state then look at the nutritional label on the side of the packet, for every 10g of total carbohydrate there should be at least 1g of fibre, about the same ratio found in a genuine wholegrain.
Carbohydrates and legumes are both called ‘incomplete proteins’, they contain some of the essential amino acids, the building blocks of protein, but not all of them. However, together they form a ‘complete protein’ giving you the full spectrum of amino acids for your body to make protein for strong muscles, bones and skin, especially important for vegans and vegetarians who rely solely on plant-sources for protein. And FYI, they don’t have to be eaten in the same meal, just the same day, I hope that makes meal ideas a lot easier!
Moving your body
I’m putting my hand up now; this is the one that I struggle with the most. I know it’s good for me, I know that physical activity is really important for overall health and wellbeing, but when it comes down to it, me ‘doing exercise’ often ends up on the side-lines of life. I’d love to be high-fiving joggers down in the nearest green leafy park, or bouncing around the netball court, and I hope one day that will be me, but for now (and it’s taken me a long time to realise this) being active is a combination of self-pep talks and finding a way of being active that I kind of enjoy, one step at a time. We’re all different, and what’s the right way for me might not be the right way for you, but we do need to be doing at least 2 ½ hours of moderate exercise a week to be able to get the health benefits of reduced risk of chronic disease, maintaining functional muscle mass and supporting bone health.
Cook it, eat it, love it
One rule – you have to enjoy your food! What do you like to eat? what do you think you can learn to like? Please – don’t force yourself to meekly swallow some miserly salad or a woebegone celery stick you absolutely hate because it’s ‘healthy’. It’s not about being insta-perfect, it’s about feeling great in body and soul. You are a unique wonderful human, with your own personal likes and dislikes, so whatever your healthy eating lifestyle is, it’s for YOU and no-one else.
What bit of your healthy lifestyle do you struggle with? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.