At the moment I can't read a paper, magazine or even Facebook without seeing something about the newest fad diet or food craze. With all this information comes a lot of mixed messages about health and wellbeing which can be damn right confusing. Is coconut oil good for you? Should you eat activated almonds? Is the Paleo diet the way to go? Is organic the best? And what about Goji berries? Or soy?
I am a strong believer and live by the mantra, everything in moderation.
Diets or eating plans, that restrict whole food groups or are 'heavy' in certain foods, are often unrealistic, unbalanced and difficult to stick to. Leaving people to throw their hands up in the air when it comes to preparing dinner, and got out and get something from your local take away.
Take the well popularised Paleo diet. This diet promotes a high protein, low carbohydrate way of eating which suggests to eat only meat/fish/seafood/eggs, nuts and seeds, fresh fruit and vegetables and certain oils. Avoiding food groups such as grains and cereals, legumes (e.g. beans, chick peas, peanuts) and dairy. Or the celebs favourite Macrobiotic diet which promotes a more high carbohydrate, low protein way of eating, encouraging a diet of wholegrain cereals, vegetables, legumes and certain oils. Although suggests to restrict meat/fish/seafood/eggs, nuts and seeds, fresh fruit and dairy.
Both these diets do promote an unrefined/unprocessed way of eating which I definitely agree with. But provide conflicting advice when it comes to health and wellbeing.
Any 'diet' which promotes avoiding whole food groups is not healthy, as you are missing out on essential nutrients. Take dairy for example; it is an excellent source of Calcium and a number of other nutrients which promote bone health. Avoiding dairy, can lead to the development of Osteoporosis where bones become thin and break easily.
I think we need to shift away from the restricting way of thinking, and stop using the words 'avoid', 'limit' and 'cut out'. Instead support the balanced way of thinking and use words like, 'choose', 'eat more' and 'include'. Promote a more moderate view of eating.
For me this includes:
1. Eat more fruit, vegetables, legumes and lentils. Whether they are organic, fresh, dried, frozen or canned, they are packed full of essential nutrients.
2. Eat breakfast. Helps you break the fast, giving you an energy boost ready for the day.
3. Include wholegrain cereals. On top of the popular grains rice, wheat, corn and oats there are a number of other grains to include such as barley, quinoa, buckwheat and rye. Wholegrains are packed with fibre, helping to keep you regular.
4. Choose lean meat and low fat dairy products. Full fat dairy and fatty meats are high in saturated fats which are bad for heart health.
5. Choose oils from nuts and seeds. Oils such as olive oil, rapeseed oil, almond oil, sunflower oil and canola oil are low in saturated fat.
There is no one wrong or right way of eating. But shifting towards a well balanced way of thinking is a good way to start