There is often a lot of confusion when it comes to what constitutes a healthy diet – and I totally understand why. We are constantly being bombarded by all sorts of diets – if you want to be skinny, eat paleo! No, not paleo, keto! No, you need to be vegan to be healthy. No, you have to be gluten free! I’ve even heard of diets where you only eat potato or cheese for weeks/months/a year.
I don’t know about you, but I feel like this is what I see whenever I turn on the TV, flick through social media or speak with certain people.
As a degree qualified Naturopath, my job is to break down the media hype and instead look at the research & at the physiology of the body. Making dietary recommendations is such a huge part of what I do in my consultations – and that is perfect, because it means that I can make individualised recommendations for the person sitting in front of me. It also means that we can utilize Food as Medicine, or in other words, if they have a condition or set of symptoms that they are experiencing, I can prescribe them certain foods to reduce the symptoms, or to treat nutritional deficiencies associated with what they are experiencing.
But really, for the average person, following a healthy diet is easy. I highly recommend avoiding FAD diets*, and instead focusing on eating whole foods. That means eating foods that are as natural a state as possible – ie. minimally processed & without additives.
What does this mean?
Most bodies thrive on –
Eating 5+ serves of fresh vegetables every day
Eating 1-2 serves of fresh fruit (for most people) every day
Eating good quality protein – organic eggs, organic meats in small qualities, deep sea fish (aka not farmed), quinoa, legumes, organic tofu and organic tempeh.
Eating good quality organic grains – as close to their natural state as possible. Ie. brown rice, freekah, rolled oats, rye, barley, buckwheat, quinoa (although technically a seed), millet & amaranth. Notice how gluten sits with you – a proportion of the population find gluten to be extremely inflammatory, for others it creates more low-level inflammation, and for some it causes no inflammation. Not all grains contain gluten. There are some people who do not respond as well to grains.
Eating 1 handful of nuts & seeds if your body tolerates them.
How do I know what’s in the foods that I’m buying?
You don’t… especially if you’re choosing to shop conventional (i.e. not organic). If you want to know more about the food your consuming, consider buying from local farmers as you can talk to them about their farming practices.
When it comes to processed foods – ie foods that come in packets pre-made it is really easy to buy without reading the label. And most of the time, this is a big mistake. But even when you do read the label, you might not understand what each of the ingredients are actually doing to your body. This is a big topic, and if you’d like to know more I highly recommend joining the waitlist for my upcoming course** where we will be diving into understanding food labels (among other things!)
In our modern society, we are often eating foods that do come in a package. And I think it’s important to be realistic when setting food related goals for yourself – there are going to be times where we do buy packaged foods – so make sure you read the ingredients & check that they are all real foods – no numbers, added colours or flavours (since when did numbers become food ingredients?).
Why do I still not feel right even though I eat really well?
Ahh.. this question is one that I get asked quite a lot. As well as ‘why am I still putting on weight even though I eat well and exercise?”‘
The answer could be simple, or it could be complicated.
You may be having a reaction to a food or food group, have inflammation in your gut that needs attention, or perhaps there is something else going on – this could be a thyroid condition, chronic stress, adrenal fatigue to name only a few possibilities. If you think this is you – please book an appointment with me or another degree qualified Naturoapth.
Doesn’t sound like you? Perhaps your answer is a bit more simple… Here are some questions to consider.
By who’s standards are you eating well? Are you getting enough food? Do you include protein in every meal, eat healthy fats every day & have 1-2 meals containing starchy veg? Do you eat organic? If the answer is no, give it a go & see if that makes a difference for you. I buy my organic fruit & veg predominantly from Organic Angels (not sponsored, but hopefully helps send you in the direction of affordable organic food).
I have asked you a few questions here & provided a very brief run-down of some of the factors that could be contributing to how you feel – tired, bloated, weight gain, ‘not quite right’. I hope this has provided some insight into a really big topic.
It’s important to remember that this article is educational in nature, and isn’t intended as individualised health advice. If you would like health advise, please book a consultation here.
*aka a diet that becomes really popular for a short time. I recommend avoiding these in most instances. There are times where following specific strict dietary instructions are really important if you have a medical condition or have been advised by your degree-qualified practitioner.
**my upcoming course, Foundations of Nutrition 8 Week Health Coaching course will be launching in approximately September 2022. It will be run live over 8 weeks, covering topics such as creating a healthy meal, understanding what’s in your pantry, looking at water quality and the effects of popular drinks on health & we will explore the effects of eating organic vs conventional food on health. As a health coaching course, it is designed so that information is delivered to you, discussed as a group & then individual goals are made. There is ongoing support from the group as you start implementing lifestyle changes. By signing up to the waitlist, you will receive further information on the course via email.