Are you transitioning from a standard western style diet to eating in a healthier sustainable way?
Then read on…….
We see a lot of food diaries in our Newcastle naturopathy clinic. If you’ve seen Cody or Cheree, you will know that food plays a big part of your health. It can impact you in extremely negative ways, actually bringing on disease states, but it can also be a powerful healing tool and help repair the body in amazing ways.
What analysing hundreds of food diaries has made us realise, is that the definition of a “healthy” diet is very different for different people.
We’ve seen some weird and whacky eating styles with a lot of people convinced that how they are eating is the right thing for them, when it is the very thing driving their health issues!!
So where do you start?? How do you know if what you are eating is healthy or not? What does being sustainable mean? We will look at all this and more right now!
Let’s start by looking at what a Standard Western Style diet is and why it’s not that great. It is a modern style of eating that has a high proportion of processed foods, red meat, fried foods, refined grains and corn.
It is a diet that is very inflammatory and is linked to all sorts of health issues such as type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression and anxiety, and obesity.
The first thing we can do to transition away from this style of eating is making sure that our foods were once alive.
If it was grown in a field or farm, then it is a big step closer to healthy than the processed foods made in factories that a lot of people are consuming these days.
There’s a few things that you want to look at to know the answer to the question “Is this food healthy or not?”
“Is it high in sodium?”
Foods that are high in sodium are generally ones from a packet, and impact blood pressure and mineral ratios in our body.
“Is it high in sugar?”
To make this easier you can look up the GI (Glycaemic index) of a food and eat mostly low to moderate GI foods. This will help insulin signalling work better in the body and reduce risk of type II diabetes.
“Is it GMO?”
GMO means genetically modified organism, and the implications of eating foods that are GMO are not widely known, however, what we do know is most GMO crops are not organic, and therefor use more chemical sprays whilst growing and storing them. The ingestion of chemical pesticides can interrupt hormone function, impact liver function and may be linked with obesity and infertility.
“Is it real?”
Does it have numbers in the ingredients list? Chances are it has been modified in some way with artificial colours, flavours or preservatives. Some numbers represent “natural” colours and preservatives, whilst others are man made chemicals that are used by manufacturers to make food cheaper to make. Get to know what numbers are what and which ones one might be contributing to your health issues by using an app called The Chemical Maze.
“Is this too much or too little?”
Portion sizes can really mess with our health. If you give your family restaurant sized servings on a regular basis, you will be getting way beyond your energy requirements and your body will store the excess as fat. Use your palm as a guide for the sizes you need per meal. One palm sized serve of protein (meat, fish, legumes), plus one palm sized serve of complex carbohydrates (sweet potato, whole grain pasta, brown rice), and at least two palm sized serves of rainbow veggies.
“Is this an OK Fat?”
Do not be afraid of fat. Leave the wisdom of the 80’s where it belongs with spiked fringes and bubble skirts. Science now knows that fat is essential to health. BUT, there are a few different kinds. As with the above questions it comes down to is it real or is it fake? Trans fats are the worst. They are man made and mess with our bodies in a negative way. Plant based fats like from nuts; seeds, olive oil, hemp, and avocado are awesome. Seafood fats are fantastic. Saturated fats from animals are ok in small amounts but not too great in large amounts.
Got a bit of a grasp on this healthy thing yet??
Let’s do a diet overhaul.
We can start at the top of your day and work down.
Looking at breakfast first, let’s leave behind the processed, sugary breakfast cereals, the carb heavy pastries and begin the day with a balanced mix of protein, carbs, and fats. Yes yes you are saying, I get what your saying with the words, but what does it translate to in terms of what I can actually eat?
How about a spinach omelette with Kim chi? Or poached eggs with pesto on wholegrain toast? Or smoothies made with nut milk, hemp protein, avocado, banana and oats? Porridge with a dollop of yoghurt and blueberries? Homemade granola with coconut yoghurt and fruit? OR, you can get on board with intermittent fasting and even skip breakfast! The old saying “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” might still be true in your food choices, but research is showing that by limiting the time that you eat from between midday to sundown is really beneficial for cellular health and benefits ageing, weight and fertility!
What about snacks??
Let’s see if we can avoid anything out of a packet! Lean towards nuts, fruit, and homemade dips with crackers, smoothies, and away from things like lollies, chips, and muesli bars. For some people regular grazing will help keep their blood sugar levels constant, while other people benefit better from keeping away from snack time all together and just eating at meal time! You will know if you get the “hangries” it might be better for you to graze on healthy real foods until you can regulate this better.
Meal times. Lunch and dinner have the same “rules”, which are:
Eat a wide variety of mostly plant-based foods. Stick to organic where possible.
Keep portion sizes appropriate to you and cook from scratch as much as you can!
And what about eating sustainably? How does that tie in?
Having a light footprint on our earth by choosing wisely with where our foods come from and what impact they have on our environment is one big part of eating sustainably. Limiting packaging is one way you can do this. Instead of buying food that comes in single packets, buy the bulk pack and use reusable containers to portion it yourself. Or buy in bulk from shops like ‘scoop’, where you can take your own jars and containers to refill!
Reduce food miles by buying things grown and produced locally. We try to buy locally by using ‘Your Food Collective’ that supports local farmers.
Learning where food comes from is important. If something has come to me by boat or plane before I eat it, it has made a big impact on the environment in terms of food miles. By Australian grown and Australian OWNED as much as you can.
By choosing Australian owned companies, not only are you keeping jobs locally, but also you can, as a consumer, have conversations with them and ask for less packaging, more organic, and no preservatives!!
And one more thing! WATER!! When it comes to what you drink, your cells want water. Put down the juice, and milk, and copious amounts of tea, coffee, soft drink and alcohol and just drink water! We’ll talk about the quality of your water and why you should drink filtered alkalised water another time!!
Health is a journey, and we don’t expect you to go from eating a typical western style diet to being a raw vegan who grows there own food, ferments daily and practices root to tip eating!! (by the way, that’s not the end goal of this journey!! It’s whatever works for YOU best).
There are so many styles of eating out there. Keto, paleo, vegan, no waste, gluten free, additive free, 5:2, 18:6, fodmap, macro, macrobiotic and much, much, more!!
No wonder it can be confusing!
The main advice we want to share is to do your best, ask for advice when you aren’t sure and do what is going to work for your health!
We LOVE food and health. For the Newcastle naturopaths at CK Health, they go hand and hand. Let us take your hand and guide you on the right path for your health journey!!
Book a FREE health assessment where we will take a close look at your diet and you TODAY!