Food choices

It seems recently, with the advances in science, we are re-looking at all we thought we knew about healthy eating, and it can be quite confusing! How do we know what’s right and wrong? I will look at food trends and try to make sense of all the mixed messages we get about healthy eating. I will share tried and tested ways of eating and give tips and ideas on how to nourish your body and find foods that work for you. Finding ways to fuel your system with food that balances and makes you feel and look your best.

I predominantly eat a plant based diet as much as possible. Eating whole food in its most natural unprocessed form. Vegetables are the most nutritionally dense food and should be the main component of all your meals. Eat all the colours of the rainbow, each colour vegetable has a variety of different health benefits. For example green veg help detox your system and promote healthy skin; orange veg build your immune system and have cancer fighting properties; red veg support a healthy heart and eyes. Even though most fruit and veg are available all year round I try to eat with the season to get them at their peak. Even if you’re not too sure what’s in season you’ll notice in the supermarket certain veg are in abundance and looking bigger and better than they usually do! Board Bia do a great chart that show you all the veg in season.

Before I started taking an interest in nutrition I would have considered myself a very healthy eater. But when I actually looked at what I was eating I realised that even though I wasn’t eating much bread I was still relying too much on grains. We rely too much on cereal for breakfast, bread at lunchtime and pasta or rice for dinner. When you reduce the grain portions in meals and increase the vegetable portions you are increasing the nutritional content of every meal. Gram for gram grains just don’t pack the same punch as vegetables when it comes to health benefits. You’ll also find you feel more satisfied for longer when grains don’t take centre stage on you plate.

I find I work better without too much meat. It can be harder to digest and slows my system down. There are tons of plant based proteins that you can mix into your diet, which will reduce your dependency on meat as a source of protein. It’s better to eat good quality meat once or twice a week and experiment with other sources of protein to encourage variety into your diet. Quinoa, buckwheat, chia seeds, hemp seed, seeds, nuts, legumes, lentils, leafy greens, eggs and even avocado are all great sources of protein. Try swapping rice with quinoa or buckwheat, adding chia or hemp seed into your porridge, sprinkling nuts onto salads and even on roast veg, make some hummus or a big pot of bean hotpot, throw some lentils into your homemade soup.

Although some people have no problem with dairy it is one of the most common food allergens. Our main reason for over consuming dairy is the need for calcium in our diets. It is often considered the only source of calcium but there are lots of other options like nuts, seeds, white beans, spinach, kale, broccoli, seaweed, and again avocado! Half a glass of milk has 100mg of calcium, an orange has 75mg of calcium and one cup of white beans has 150g of calcium. Similar to the approach to meat, try look at broadening your spectrum on how you get your calcium requirements and mix it up with some other sources.

Every meal should have a balance of plants, protein and fat. Put very simply, plants supply a powerhouse of different vitamins and minerals, protein builds cells and promotes healing and fat is the misunderstood food group that is imperative for your body to absorb all the nutrition it takes in. You can flood your system with all the good food in the world but if it is missing the transporter it will simply travel through your system without much absorption. Along with protein, it also fills you up and keep you satisfied until your next meal.

When you start to listen to your system and become more conscious of the messages it sends (happy, balanced, comfortable, tired, bloated, constipated), it becomes easier and more logical to eat in a clean and unprocessed way. Eating nourishes your body and has the ability to make you feel and look your best. Mindfully take pleasure in the journey the food took to get onto your fork. Slow down and savour each mouthful. Explore the senses; sight, smell, texture and taste. It’s about building a sustainable lifestyle that makes you more aware of how your system reacts to what you eat and avoiding the ones that don’t suit you.

But most of all enjoying the experience of food, and building a healthy relationship with it.

Ruth Delahunty Yogaru