Food is one of life’s greatest sources of pleasure, and eating the right kind of foods and preparing them in the healthiest possible way is essential to wellbeing. It is all too easy to resort to heavily processed, nutrient poor, calorie dense ‘convenience’ foods within our hectic lifestyles. These foods are often loaded with unhealthy fats, added sugars and salt, and an array of other unwanted substances.
As health professionals become more aware of scientifically proven links between diet and disease, it is becoming increasingly imperative that we consider the quality of the foods we are ingesting: if you have a well-nourished body, you will not only cope better with all aspects of daily life, but will improve your resistance to disease and automatically reduce your stress levels.
Improve the quality of your foods
Improving the quality of fuels we put into our system is all about getting back to basics and eating food as close to how nature intended, ie. The less wrapping, the better! It’s about eating fresh, minimally processed foods with an abundance of colourful fruit and veggies, whole grains, legumes, and small servings of raw nuts and seeds, small deep-sea fish and lean, organic red meat, with a focus on variety for maximal nutrient and phytochemical intake.
Nutrient content aside, please consider the vitality in the foods we ingest, and how this life force may be passed onto us when we choose live foods such as fresh and raw fruit and veggies, sprouts and fresh culinary herbs! Including a weekly organic F&V shop or delivery has the triple advantage of minimising pesticide exposure, improving mineral content of foods from richer soils, and supporting earth-aware, sustainable farming methods. In addition to this, most people can taste the richer flavours, and organic foods offer increased vitality and energy to us.
Simpler cooking methods such as lightly steaming or a quick stir-fry are optimal cooking methods, so as not to overcook or destroy water soluble vitamins, enzymes & phytochemicals in the foods. Including good quality fats (omega 3 & omega 6’s) and minimising saturated fats and trans-fatty-acids from animal products and pastries/cakes/biscuits is also a key factor in improving the quality of our food intakes.
What is a “perfect” diet?
The perfect balance in diet is unique for each person. To find balance, it is important to know ones own individual needs, the properties of foods, the best preparation methods, and to choose a broad range of high quality foods. When a good attitude and ample exercise are combined, one finds no limit to total health: healthy body, healthy mind and healthy spirit.
It is recommended that roughly 30% of our total energy intake comes from fat: which on average translates to 55-85g/day. More importantly than amount of fat, however, is the type of fat we ingest. Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids (polyunsaturated fats) are known as Essential Fatty Acids because they are essential to the health of every cell in our body.
Omega 3’s are found in oily fish such as sardines, mackerel, salmon and trout; in flaxseed oil and meal, & in walnuts. Omega 6’s are found in nuts and seeds and their oils. Monounsaturated Fatty acids such as in olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds are always best raw, and extra-virgin olive oil is great for cooking due to it’s stability.
Other types of fats such as Saturated fats from animal sources should be minimised, including fats from red meat, poultry, full cream milk & yoghurt, cheese, butter, cream etc. Trans Fatty Acids should be avoided where possible, ie from cakes, pastries, biscuits, croissants.