Just eat real food!
There is so much information out there about food and nutrition! Go into any main bookstore and you will probably find at least 30 books about the topic, each with their own unique slant. Start searching online and you will soon be overwhelmed with different diets, nutritional schools of thought and weight loss programmes. I am not surprised that most people are confused about what to eat! Are we supposed to be vegetarian, vegan, raw vegan, paleo, wheat free, gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, low carb, high carb, low fat, high protein?!?! What are we actually supposed to eat!? We can quite quickly end up in a state of ‘paralysis by analysis!’
Food labels and marketing make matters even more confusing, as companies try to persuade us that their products are good for us or will help us lose weight. For example, a yoghurt marketed as ‘low fat’ might be packed full of sugar! A breakfast cereal might make claims of healthy ‘goodness’ but be loaded with sugar, salt and unhealthy fats. Words like ‘farm fresh’, ‘natural’ and ‘whole’ taken on by food companies are fairly ambiguous and meaningless.
Our supermarket shelves are filled with all sorts of ‘food like’ products that are not actual foods! When I walk around the supermarket I would estimate that around 70% of the food I see in there is not actually food!! Instead it is edible food-like substances engineered by food scientists! It is refined and processed food filled with additives and unnatural ingredients. Our bodies are not designed to eat these foods. Imagine filling up your petrol car with diesel and then trying to drive it! You won’t get very far! This is what we are doing every time we eat ‘food like substances’. Our bodies cannot function properly and thrive on those sorts of foods.
I believe a good place to start is by simply eating ‘real food’! ‘What is real food?’ I hear you say! There is no official definition of the term ‘real food’. I like to think of it as food in its most natural, least processed and least chemically adulterated form possible. Real food is grown in the ground or on trees or walks around outside! If it is something your Great Grandmother would not recognise as food you probably shouldn’t eat it! If there are 20 ingredients on the label and you cannot pronounce half of them you probably shouldn’t eat it!
Eating healthily does not need to be complicated and shouldn’t require a PhD in nutrition! I believe everyone can start making steps towards healthier eating. I hope to expand more on the topic of real food in future blog posts but for now let me give you some first simple steps to get started:
1) Eat more foods that are just one ingredient (A carrot is a carrot! An egg is an egg!)
2) Eat butter instead of margarine.
3) Replace vegetable (sunflower, canola) oils with coconut oil or olive oil.
4) Increase the number of vegetables you eat.
5) Eat meat that looks like meat!
6) Opt for wholegrains rather than refined or ‘white’ foods
7) Avoid anything containing artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup and added sugar.
8) Try to replace shop bought items (e.g. muffins, bread and pancakes) with more homemade alternatives.
9) Set aside more time to cook and make more things from scratch.
You might have read suggestion number nine and thought ‘WHAT??!! I don’t have time for that! You have no idea how busy my life is!’ Trust me, I get it! I know finding time to plan, shop for, prepare and cook healthily can feel impossible sometimes. Whilst I believe eating healthily can be simple, it does require some time and effort. However, it is so worth it! You have to put in some hard work to reap the benefits! There are numerous ways to reduce time spent in the kitchen and make things time efficient too (but that is a blog for another day!)
If you are feeling overwhelmed, please don’t! Just take one step at a time. Ask yourself, what is one thing I can change this week? And do it!