Me Thinks: Dieting And Food

Hey there!

So…I decided to do a post on what my thoughts are when it comes to food and dieting.

We all know the benefits of eating clean and healthily. Combined with other healthy and good habits such as exercising, healthy self-nurturing and personal hygiene, you not only delay premature ageing and prevent lifestyle diseases, but you also make yourself stronger and fitter. Food, no doubt, is such an important part of the health equation. It is the fuel that gives us the energy to do what we need to do on a daily basis. More importantly, it gives us the energy, nutrients, vitamins and essential minerals to sustain life.

Eating the rainbow

 That is why it is so vital that we learn to eat a variety of foods across the entire food spectrum. Many have called this eating the rainbow. We need to get into our bodies the right kind of foods as well as foods of different colours too. Some greens, purples, oranges, whites, reds and yellows – all have their role to play in nourishing the body and keeping it going, as healthily as possible, over the entire lifetime of a human being.

This also means that we need to eat foods from different food groups. A little bit of everything (and a little bit more of the most essential foods) is what the body needs to function at its optimum. That is why I am NOT an advocate or fan of diets – the Atkins diet; no carbs diet; high protein diet; the this diet; the that diet. To me, all of this is nonsense. All these diets, if analysed closely, are based on some kind of deprivation. They eliminate the consumption of a certain kind or group of food. The body doesn’t need to be deprived. It needs to be fed.

Research shows that good nutrition is not about cutting out the so-called “bad” foods. It’s about limiting them. And increasing the ‘good’ foods. You can eat a little bit of everything – it just requires the simple know-how, discipline and portion control – the right amounts and combinations of foods. Research also shows that  carbohydrates, proteins and fats are essential for the body to function well. Your body needs these foods to “develop, replace and repair cells and tissues; carry out processes in the body (i.e. digestion etc.) as well as to protect you from disease, infections and other sicknesses”.

Without these, the body is out of balance and you begin to encounter problems. So essentially, diets such as the no carb diets and high protein diets are, in the long run, doing some kind of harm to the body. I also think that people’s understanding of natural carbs and refined carbs cause a bit of confusion. In today’s society, we consume a lot of refined carbs (French fries, white bread) and so the solution offered is to totally eliminate carbs. The solution should be to educate people about the difference between refined carbs and natural carbs and teach them to incorporate and eventually replace the refined carbs with the healthier, better and more stable carbs. Because the body does need carbohydrates to function.

It may sound like an uphill battle. But following a few simple guidelines should set you on your way. Once you get the hang of it, you will be able to eat healthily across the spectrum without thinking of it as too much effort. And you will also find that there is room for the sweets, chocolates, ice-creams, chips and what have you. You just need to learn to minimise your intake of these kinds of foods. Discipline!

Take a look at the plate above (courtesy: Harvard School of Public Health). This is how your foods should be portioned. The majority of your food intake should consist of your carbohydrates (whole grains, natural carbohydrates), vegetables, and fruits. They make up a little more than half the plate. The rest of the plate consists of diary, proteins, meats and your  foods containing sugars and fats including sugary drinks, sweets, chips and so on; which you can see take up the smallest amount of space on the plate.

Eating meals that consist of carbohydrate foods such as whole grains, potatoes (sweet and normal), rice (preferably brown rice) or wholewheat pasta; with plenty of fruit and vegetables; some protein-rich foods such as meat, fish, beans and lentils; some milk and dairy foods; and not too much of the fatty, salty or sugary foods, will provide the nutrients that you need. It’s about eating a range of foods in the right amounts and portions…and of course drinking plenty of water. That goes without saying. (courtesy: NHS).

But remember that eating well alone won’t help you if your goal is, let’s say, weight loss. It’s an element or a part of the bigger picture. There are some people who eat healthy and balanced meals on a daily basis but are still overweight. This is where exercise, physical fitness and movement come into play. You can eat all the healthy organic foods everyday without fail. But if you are just going to sit around and not getting some kind of exercise, you will consume more calories than your body needs and they will be stored in the body, causing weight gain.

You need to burn up the excess calories. Don’t only find balance in the foods you eat, but find the balance in your life too.

Well, there you have it. My take on dieting. Let me know what you think and what works for you. 🙂

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