Friday, January 29, 2010

Simple principles for healthy eating

In the Ayurvedic tradition, it is said: “If you have a good diet, of what use is a doctor? And if you don’t have a good diet, of what use is a doctor.” Diet can be one of the major causes of imbalance and illness. Conversely a good diet can also greatly contribute to healing, correctly imbalances and optimising wellness. Below are some general guidelines for a healthier diet:

Basic wholefood principles
Choose organic foods where possible
Eat foods as close to their natural state as possible
Drink lots of water – aim for 1-2L per day
Eat a variety of whole grains including spelt, rye, barley, oats, buckwheat, rice and quinoa
Eat high quality protein, such as cold water fish (excellent source of essential fatty acids)
Eat low GI (Glycemic Index) foods to keep blood sugar levels stable and reduce cravings
Eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables – fresh fruit and vegetables contain an abundance of phytonutrients, essential for good health
Eat anti-oxidant rich foods such as berries, dark chocolate (min 70% cocoa solids), orange and yellow vegetables, green leafy vegetables, red wine/grapes, tea, wheat and barley grass
Eat detoxifying foods such as cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, chinese cabbage, brussel sprouts), green tea, watercress, dandelion tea, fennel tea, garlic, lemon and coriander
Start your day with a glass of hot water and the juice of half a lemon. This helps to detoxify your liver and kick-start the body’s digestive process
Minimise salt in cooking and use herbs such as coriander, turmeric, ginger, cumin, tarragon, cinnamon, rosemary, basil and cardamon for flavour
Eat lots of fibre (found in vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds and whole grains) for healthy bowel movements
Use extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil as your main oils (coconut oil is fantastic as it remains stable at all temperatures and believe it or not, it is a fat that actually promotes weight loss!)
Increase your intake of nuts and seeds, which are full of essential fatty acids and nutrients
Mix up your dairy intake with dairy alternatives made from rice and oat milk. Soy milk and soy products are good in moderation. Low-fat cow’s yoghurt containing live cultures can also be very beneficial to those who don’t have dairy intolerance

Foods to minimise
Processed foods
Packaged foods – look at the ingredients label and if the product has a long list of ingredients it’s probably best to avoid it. Look out for the words hydrogenated and high fructose corn syrup. These are bad and should be avoided
Junk and fast foods
Refined sugar and products containing white sugar
Products made from refined white flour such as white bread, pasta, most cereals and most cakes, pies and pastries
Refined white rice – choose brown or basmati rice instead
Processed fruit juices
Starchy high GI vegetables such as potatoes
Canned vegetables as they tend to be high in sodium (salt), which is a big contributor to bloating and fluid retention
Refined oils such as safflower, sunflower, peanut and canola oil
Artificial sweeteners
Food additives, colours and flavours
Table salt – sea salt is good in moderation
Red meat
Caffeine and other stimulants

Mindful eating
Eat slowly and chew thoroughly
Avoid overeating
Don’t do any activity (such as watching TV or working at your computer - easier said than done!) while you are eating as the meal should be the main focus
Concentrate on the sensations of taste and texture
Allow yourself quiet time after eating to digest
Go for a short walk after eating if you can as this helps to promote digestion

Other hints and tips
Be wary of large portions – portion sizes have increased considerably over the last 20 years and many people don’t actually know what a standard portion size is. For example a portion of pasta is 1 cup, not 2-3 cups as many people would have in a normal meal. A portion of meat is approximately the size and thickness of the a person’s palm
Avoid overeating when eating out and eating socially – studies have shown that people eat considerably more when eating out and eating with friends
Always eat breakfast – breakfast is the most important meal of the day as it fuels the body after the night’s famine.
Dinner should be the smallest meal of the day and should be eaten 2-3 hours before bed to allow the body to digest the food and not interfere with sleeping. This isn't always practical, especially given that a lot of socialising revolves around eating out. If you know you're going out for a big dinner, then try to eat a lighter lunch to balance it out.

It's all pretty simple and common sense really, but sometimes we need a reminder. Eat well, live well and stay well.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great summary and reminder of what to eat and what to avoid.