Healthy Eating You will have heard a lot of things about


Healthy Eating You will have heard a lot of things about
Healthy Eating
You will have heard a lot of things about food, especially in the media, some of its right however some of it
is wrong - that's why we are still having a problem with obesity and diabetes after all these years of media
saturation. I've taken these concepts from a wide range of sources; none of this is my own work and take
no credit for any of it. However, alongside regular physical activity (of about 45 minutes a week), this is the
basic information I use in my health groups, and from September '09 to April '13, every attendee has
changed their eating habits to some degree, all have lost weight and retained that loss, all report feeling
better generally and some have improved their blood pressure, heart health and peak flow. The journey
has been a slow one for many, and is still continuing.
So let's dispel a few myths:
Healthy Eating is not about 'dieting', it's about changing your long-term eating habits and eating a healthy
diet. Combinations of eating specific foods for fixed periods, or even fasting, is not good for your system.
The ideal way to reach and maintain a healthy weight is to change your eating habits and your attitude to
food overall.
The main reason people gain too much weight is because they eat too much of the wrong food. The
majority of people have a 'normal' metabolism; Metabolic Dysfunction exists in healthy-weight individuals
as well as overweight/obese individuals. There are also other factors that play a part, such as medication
and life circumstances, which may stimulate appetite, which often leads to overeating. This process is
often taken unconsciously, though through creating a healthy eating regime and sticking to it, one can
begin to understand and accept when one is truly hungry and when the body is reacting to other
stimulants. The 'Feel, Think, Do' process may help understand this cycle. It is important to understand that
this is an incredibly difficult process to control and is heavily influenced by external factors and
Everybody has the 'fat gene' - it is your behaviours that either turns that gene on or not. It is not the gene's
fault that people choose to eat. Many people eat too much food for their energy needs, usually because of
habit, boredom, comfort, ritual and so on. Some people need to eat considerably less than others; the
'calories per day' information is a generalisation, and often is not true for an individual. Hormones
stimulate eating behaviour; eating a good diet will give you greater control of the hormones that regulate
your appetite.
The fat in your food is not the same as the fat in your body. You need healthy fats in your diet; there are
three different types of fats, saturated, poly-unsaturated and mono-unsaturated (fat only ever exists as all
three, in varying degrees) and when any of these fat molecules are removed from processed foods they are
replaced with a chemical that our body does not recognise as food and therefore cannot digest properly (so
it gets stored in your body, which can cause damage to the lining of your arteries). Free fatty acids (fat) can
only be stored as body fat in the presence of the hormone insulin, which is secreted when we eat
carbohydrates and sugars.
Cholesterol in your food is not the same as the cholesterol in your body. Your body makes its own
cholesterol and you cannot live without it. Eating manufactured foods has never been proven to lower
cholesterol in your body, just as eating foods high in cholesterol has not been proven to increase your
cholesterol level. In fact, having too low a cholesterol level can be detrimental to your health.
There is no evidence to support '5 a day'. Other countries have different 'number-a-day'. The consumption
of fruit and vegetables, however, cannot be under-estimated, and 5 is a good minimum to aim for.
Calories in does not equal energy out - it doesn't work like that. If physics worked liked that, we could have
dynamos powered by gyroscopes. If the calorie theory were correct, every human would lose 47kg (104lbs)
every year, with a 1,000 calorie a day deficit (regardless of gender or starting weight).
And remember - your weight can go up or down by about 1kg (2.2llb) per day, which is perfectly natural
and normal. If you are going to weigh yourself, do it at the same time of day, using the same scales.
Sort Out The Content
If it comes from a lab, it's not food. Buy fresh as much as possible, and make your own meals. Ready-meals
and processed foods are not good for you, however convenient they may be. Try to minimise the amount
of pre-made food you have in your diet.
Sugar has no nutritional value at all, and is actually a fat. All flours, including wholegrain, have a negligible
amount of nutritional value. Fizzy drinks, including the diet varieties, are excellent at storing fat in your
body. They are one of the major contributors to the obesity epidemic with 25% of diabetes being caused
by sugar. These are not necessary in our day-to-day diets. Sweets, sugary drinks, cakes and biscuits etc.
should be seen as a rare treat and not make up part of your staple diet. The natural sugars found in natural
fresh fruit and vegetables are enough to keep the body ticking along.
Butter is better for you than margarine, natural oils are better for you than low-fat frying sprays. Natural
fats are essential in your diet. Avoid foods that are 'reduced fat', 'fat free', 'diet', etc. as these are
chemically adjusted; the body does not recognise these chemicals as food and therefore cannot digest
them properly, so they get stored. Some foods are naturally low in fat; it's only when the fat content has
been chemically altered that this becomes a problem for our bodies.
No matter how healthy you eat, you can still be overweight if you eat too much. If you're overweight
despite a healthy, balanced diet, chances are you need to cut down your portions. If you think the servings
seem small, don't panic. Try to cut down to the portion sizes over a period of time, don't just cut down
straight away - small steps towards the overall goal are far easier to manage and you won't go hungry.
When serving your food, serve it in the portion sizes as above so you get an idea of how much food you
actually need in a meal. It will look small, so top up the meal to your 'normal' amount. When you are ready
to make changes to the amount of food you are eating, top up your plate slightly less each time. Only make
small changes when you are ready, and over time, that way your body will have time to adjust and you will
not be going hungry or missing out on the foods you enjoy.
Carbohydrates, includes bread, pasta, rice and potatoes, aim for 1-2 portions a meal, 5-8 portions a
day. Two slices of bread or a medium potato are about two portions.
Meat, Fish and other proteins, aim for 2-3 portions a day. Two medium eggs, a half a tin of beans
or a slice of unprocessed meat the size and thickness of your palm would be about one portion
each. Avoid processed meats, although meat substitutes such as tofu or TVP products are fine and
can be measured as meat.
Dairy produce, 3 portions a day, preferably one portion with each meal. About 200ml (6½floz)
would be about one portion. Don't forget the milk in your coffee/tea, and the milk on your cereals.
Fruit and Vegetables, at least 5 a day, though try for at least 1-2 with every meal. Try a glass of
fruit juice with breakfast, for example, or a selection of vegetables, salads and fruits with your
Sweets and Fats, try to reduce these as much as possible, though allow for natural fats and sugars
in your food. Sugary drinks and sweets are best kept to minimum, as a treat, rather than a part of
your daily diet.