15/06/2015 12:50 BST | Updated 15/06/2016 06:59 BST

Healthy Eating - What Does It Really Mean?

Walk into any bookshop and head to the food and drink section. You will immediately be overwhelmed with the amount of literature on 'healthy' eating. It appears to be incredibly fashionable at the moment to write a book on food and healthy eating. Authors, with or without a nutritional or culinary background, encourage their readers to follow their particular fad diet, whether that be cutting out carbs, sugar or following a purely plant based diet. I promise you; there is a book out there for almost any diet imaginable. Funnily enough though, I've yet to find one which promotes a cheese-based diet. Maybe there is a gap in the market after all!

Then, there's the supermarkets. Each supermarket has an aisle dedicated to ready meals, with a section promoting the 'healthy option'. These meals apparently only contain a low amount of calories, to give them the appearance of being a healthy and quick option for dinner. Yet the actual nutritional content of these meals is much lower that you would imagine. The salt content alone is similar to that of the North Sea, while they can often include ingredients I can't even pronounce or spell. When the ingredients list resembles something like gobbledegook, really we should steer clear. However, life is busier than ever and people rush to these so-called healthy ready meals in the supermarkets, then wondering why they are not feeling as healthy or well as they would like to.

With all this chaos surrounding healthy eating it's no wonder that you can end up confused and believe that having a healthy diet is a complicated and difficult endeavour. Healthy eating should not be an arduous task, which you are only doing in some bid to achieve a better lifestyle. It should not be about denying yourself delicious food. Of course, if you have developed intolerance for certain food groups and medically it is necessary to cut them out of your diet, then that's one thing. Otherwise, the only thing you should cut out of your diet is heavily processed and synthetic food. Nor should the prospect of cooking fill you with dread. Food is not just fuel, but cooking it gives you a chance to get creative and the recipes you make needn't be difficult or take a long time to make.

Instead, eating healthily and enjoying food generally should be fun. I believe that the first step to eating healthily is to cook from scratch and eat cleanly whenever possible. Don't surrender to the convenience of supermarket 'healthy' ready meals and try to buy unprocessed food. Take the time to plan in advance what you are going to make and shop accordingly. Cook up a roast chicken on a Sunday night and use the chicken in salads and sandwiches for your lunches throughout the week. Make a big batch of chilli or casserole, either freezing the leftovers for a later occasion or eating the same thing but with a different side later in the week. To me, homemade and clean eating is healthy.

The second, and possibly more controversial, step is to ignore all these fad diets. Some quite frankly are unrealistic in my opinion. For example, I've grown up in a very meat-orientated household. My parents raise pigs so we can have our own pork - that's the love of meat in our household. So the thought of following a plant-based diet does not appeal.

I don't think cutting out meat is the answer, particularly as it is a great source of protein. I believe it is important to have a balanced diet, which includes vegetables, fruits, meats, eggs and grains. Ignore counting your calories and count the level of nutrients in your food instead.

So if I were to follow the fashion and write a book promoting healthy eating, what would I say? Eat homemade and wholesome food from a variety of different food groups, and I promise you're off to a great start in achieving a healthy and balanced diet. Oh, and try and chuck in a bit of cheese along the way, it makes everything better!

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