Everything I like is either fattening, dangerous or life threatening in high doses!  It’s believed that what you crave, you’re allergic to, so that means I’m allergic to chocolate, crisps (potato chips), chips (french fries), white bread, aubergines, potatoes, paté to name but a few! The more I research into food, the more I desire to become ever more healthy.  Most nutritionists work to a 80/20 goal of food choices, which means that 80% of the diet is good and 20% could be improved to be perfect.  Difficult today, particularly walking around supermarkets where sweets (candy) are at every corner, grab bags of “sharing” packages, new “healthy” foods claiming all kinds of energy boosting benefits and more. 

Let’s guide ourselves through some of the science to help us along the way to a “clean eating” programme.  

 Last week someone shared a very interesting article, the link is attached here:

Well worth a read as it provides information on the basic essential framework of a healthy diet building up to exam time.  Not just for students, this cleverly written article can prepare anyone for everyday well-being ambition. 

I have many of my own personal articles that I could copy and paste and repeat the same nutrition story over and over again, but it’s always more challenging and fun to write off the top of my head for an up to date piece in Summer 2016.  Government nutritional guidelines change as research continues in the area of food science and nutrition and therefore keeping up to date with information is essential.  I set out in this editorial to share short key points to help keep you on track for better health for today and for keeps. 

  • Be mindful on how you eat. Basics this means that food is there to be enjoyed.  Make sure you sit down and concentrate on eating.  It can take up to 20 minutes for your brain to register that you are actually full, therefore slowly does it, chew in an unrushed manner.
  • Try consuming a large glass of water before each meal. It flushes out the system and helps to keep you fuller for longer.  It could avoid the temptation to choose higher calorific drinks like fruit juices, fizzy drinks, energy drinks and more. 
  • Think fresh and raw. It’s generally better to eat raw vegetables and fruit than cooked, as you feel fuller for longer and it minimises nutrient loss during cooking processes.  Try placing your meal of choice on a large bed of salad, vegetables and a small piece of fruit on the side.  Each main meal should consist of half vegetables, quarter protein and quarter complex carbohydrate as a general rule of thumb.  Obviously everyone is unique, for instance someone trying to lose weight could safely decrease the quarter carbohydrate portion to their meal and substitute with added vegetables, peas, beans and lentils.
  • Choose dairy products carefully, opting for zero/low fat preferences or better still adding vegetable alternatives for instance, coconut, almond or soya milk. Bear in mind the calorie content of each portion, healthy isn’t always low fat! 
  • Eat in season. By rotating food and choosing a wide variety, you’re more likely to achieve a balanced diet. Rhubarb and asparagus are one of my all time favourites of seasonal eating.
  • A great start to the day are eggs. They provide all nine essential amino acids and non-essential too, which build, repair muscle and keep hunger at bay.  Try combining with carbohydrate to keep satiety optimum. 
  • Eat oily fish, walnut oil, pumpkin seeds for essential fatty acids. Good nutrition is also about eating the right fats.  5 teaspoons of oil is the maximum per day to use according to recent US guidelines.    Fats are beneficial to health as these foods help absorb essential fat soluble vitamins, A,D,E and K from food. 
  • Realise if you’re allergic. Keep a food diary and symptoms experienced from eating foods if you suspect allergy.  Any food trial should take 3 months at least to figure out a pattern of behaviour. The most common allergy producing foods are those from the deadly nightshade range which include: potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and aubergines.  Bread causes gluten intolerance for some people, IBS and other gut related issues.  Nuts also are highly allergenic.  Recently I have had issues with kiwi fruit, causing an itchy mouth and throat.
  • Invest in some serious armour for the kitchen! I would be lost without my Cuisinart waffle maker, Kuvings juicer, Bellini blender and Kenwood citrus press.  These pieces of equipment are invaluable for children and teenagers to get messy in the kitchen and experiment with recipes and meals.  The new Bobble range of drink containers are fun for everyone to use.  Have water ready to drink on the go, and also infused fruit provides one of your daily essential food choices. 
  • Be mindful about how much fruit you eat. Remember current US State nutritional information suggests only one/two pieces of fruit per day for the general population.  Max out on vegetables rather than fruit.  Add vegetables to smoothies to bulk out the recipe and experiment with new and exciting tastes. 
  • Spring clean the food cupboards. Remove everything from your larder or store and check sell by dates of packaged goods.  Keep high calorie snacks and food separate from your general food source and work at decreasing and not buying in the future.
  • Keep stimulants like coffee and caffeinated tea under control. Research suggests that caffeine can stay in your system for 12 hours causing insomnia and disrupted sleeping patterns.  Drinking these in the morning is better than afternoon and evening.  Try de-caffeinated varieties if you’re experiencing sleeping problems. 
  • Nutrition goes hand in hand with physical fitness. If you’re not already into exercise, try incorporating 15 minutes of any additional exercise to your general day to day activity, particularly if you lead a sedentary life.    Make sure you check out your caloric daily needs.  A sedentary adult person can require as little as 1,600 calories per day. 

Always consult a doctor or nutritionist before embarking on any major change to your diet.

Talk soon!

Carolyn Heaton (BSc) is a nutritionist.  Worked previously at The Institute of Optimum Nutrition, London and The Association of Natural Medicine, Essex as a course writer and lecturer.  Carolyn’s food writing can also be seen in selected UK and Middle Eastern magazines and on line sources.


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